Legends – Shady Ladies & More

Posted: June 18, 2020

The Eakle family of Waterman is a treasure with many stories to tell. In a previous Legends column, we wrote about the DeKalb County airport that the family ran.

Alice Eakle Marks stands in front of the “Ladies.” The “Shady Lady” started as a closet door curtain replacement in the Eakle household. Photo courtesy of Mona Hamilton

The first born of Paul and Mary Eakle, Alice had an interesting life while growing up at the airfield in Waterman. In her teenage years she worked as a weather observer for the U. S. Weather Bureau at the airfield.

She was a member of the “Eakle Family Band,” which was a marching band made up of Alice and her seven younger siblings. They performed across the United States and Canada along with a float, the U.S.S. Illinois, which her father built in the shape of a battleship.

Shown is a sample of a paper doll by Alice Marks, Doll World, Vol. 17, Issue 1, Jan/Feb 1944.

Alice earned money in school by selling her Betty Boop drawings to classmates. Her drawing talent would stay with her the rest of her life.

In 1943 Alice married Henry Marks, who was in the Army Air Corps. Alice traveled with Henry to bases around the states. As a way to keep morale up for the soldiers, Alice would draw beautiful young women on old, roll-down window shades and mail them to soldiers on duty around the world. They became known as “Shady Ladies,” repurposing materials before it was popular. 

Her creativity didn’t stop there. In 1944 she applied for and received a patent for a doll. In the patent (US Patent 140,914) she states that she has “invented a new, original, and ornamental Design for a Doll.” She also published patterns for cloth dolls and paper dolls which all young girls cherished.

Her talents kept her busy with holiday greeting cards, which when carefully folded, the airplanes depicted would do aerobatic maneuvers when the cards were opened. 

Alice was a teacher, community activist, artist, and aviation historian. What a special lady, what a special family.

Information provided by the Joiner History Room, DeKalb County Archives