On May 22, 1930, George Stalter, a 43-year old bachelor from Speyerdorf, Germany, arrived in New York City with $200 in his pocket and plans to continue on to Albany. That city was where his friend, fellow hairdresser, and future business partner, Alfred Doebbelin, had settled two years earlier, after emigrating from Rathenow, Germany. Alfred had just opened a new beauty parlor, Chez Alfred “from Fifth Avenue, New York,” at 152 State Street, across from the Capitol. The new salon’s name was soon changed to Alfred & George—The Hairdressers. It specialized in Marcel permanent waves and was the “exclusive Albany representative” for Marie Earle facial treatments, applied in “specially equipped” booths by “operators” trained in Ms. Earle’s “Fifth Avenue salon.”
Josefa Prasser, a 28-year-old hairdresser from Ravensburg, Germany, arrived in the U.S. on January 8, 1931. She told immigration officials that she planned to stay with an acquaintance in New York City but soon made her way to Albany. Josephine, as she was known to the salon’s clientele, soon became one of Alfred & George’s most popular stylists. She was also an active part of the city’s social life, performing with the Women’s Auxiliary of the Mannerchor, a German song and dance group, and later with the Monday Musical Club.
Even during the depths of the Great Depression, the salon prospered. The wives of several governors—including Eleanor Roosevelt and Edith Lehman—were among their clientele. In 1933, Albert & George added three additional booths to “meet the constantly increasing demands for permanents and other beautifying treatments.” In 1936, they added a second telephone line.
After working side by side for almost a decade, George and Josephine married sometime in 1940 or early 1941. Perhaps shared concerns for the safety of family still in Germany drew them together. They bought a house on West Sand Lake Road in Defreestville in Rensselaer County but continued to commute into Albany for work.
In 1948 George and Josephine became business partners. It appears that the couple bought Alfred out in order to open their own salon, George & Josephine, at the same location. Three years later they moved up the street to 228 State. The new salon continued in the tradition as the old, offering their customers permanent waves and the same “high class service” as before.
After more than 30 years in business on State Street, George & Josephine was forced to close by New Year’s Eve 1963, which was “E-Day” (Evacuation Day) for State Street businesses between Park and South Swan. At the time, George was 77-years-old and Josephine 62. But even before the governor’s March 1962 announcement, the couple had anticipated this loss. In a November 1961 Knickerbocker News story about plans for a State office complex in downtown Albany, Josephine told reporter Dick Weber that she would “hate to lose the ‘beautiful location,’” where she’d worked for the past decade. “Our customers always say they like to sit here and look out at the park. They always say there’s such a beautiful view.” She added that she thought that a new office building near the State Capitol would make “a beautiful picture for the city.”
Note: We have not—yet—found an interior photograph of George & Josephine. The photograph at the beginning of this post is of Philip’s Beauty Salon at 190 State.