Growing up in Iowa, Mabel Alice Ferris had stars in her eyes. Or, maybe it was the lights of a stage. The daughter of Algenon Norman Ferris and Sallie Leonard had dreams, big dreams, that would take her all the way to Broadway. She was the seventh great-granddaughter of Jeffrey Ferris through his son, Peter.
Born in 1884, Mabel found herself in Astoria, Oregon, in 1911, where she authored, directed and produced a show for Astoria’s centennial celebration called The Bridge of the Gods. It was based upon the book: The Bridge of the Gods: A Romance of Indian Oregon.
A year later, the lights of Broadway were shining on our Iowa girl as she co-wrote a show titled Another Man’s Shoes. It ran 20 shows. Theatre Magazine wrote:
It was all fairly interesting but it ran the gamut from farce to near tragedy and was further baffling because of the ineptitude of much of the dialogue.
Undaunted, she found herself a husband in Lee Leonard Keedick, who managed a number of lecturers (a popular entertainment of the time). Keedick was also of note as the secretary of the International Peace Forum. They were married in August, 1912 and lived in New York City, and then Weston, Connecticut. She died in 1973.
Keedick is noteworthy for one other item. He was approached by Moina Michael, who created the idea of the red poppy as a symbol for World War I remembrance. Keedick loved the idea, and immediately designed a presentation that all but hid the poppy. He pushed the Flanders Victory Memorial Flag, and ordered a variety of flags and pins produced for sale.
The commercial disaster that the flag became caused Keedick to abandon the concept. The simple, red poppy was saved by several women, including Michael, and became the Veterans Day symbol we know today.