This is what we would say to the barber during the ’50s and ’60s when we would go in to get our duck-tail haircuts and had sideburns.
Because we avoided a haircut as long as possible, we didn’t know that our parents had already called the barber before we got there with their instructions. Before we could make our wishes known to the barber, we had to first graduate off that hard board the barber put us on as a youngster to raise us up high enough to cut our hair.
This article will focus on a few of the barbers we remember in Perry. Lenny Stracke’s Downtown Barber Stylist at 1222 Second St. is a shop that has been there since 1957, when Tommy Schirman and Frank Schomers barbered there. Lenny who came from Westphalia attended his senior year in high school at Harlan. Lenny then attended Sioux City Barber College in ’68 and ’69. His first barbering job was in Audubon, at Sam Kauffman’s Shop during ’69 and ’70. Lenny started his own barber shop in July of ’75.
Lenny’s Downtown Barber Stylist, as it is called, is about the only barber left in Perry where you can still get the works. That means shampooing your hair, drying it, cutting it or having a shave. It is also one that you feel comfortable in just sitting around telling stories or talking about whatever is on your mind.
Barber shops, as I understand the history, served as both barber and doctor or dentist offices. I can’t imagine having stitches or a tooth pulled without novacaine, but I guess the amount of alcohol used helped the pain.
At one time we had as many barber shops in Perry as we had gas stations. Two of them were in the fronts of pool halls. We really liked these shops as we reached our early teens. You could actually learn a lot of different things in pool halls that weren’t taught in school. When your parents gave you money for a haircut, which at that time was 75 cents to $1, you better come home with a good haircut. As luck was against us many times, we got to playing pool and didn’t hear our name called for a haircut, resulting in all our money being spent on pool and pop. The next day after school we were right back at the pool hall with money for our haircut and our parents at our side, usually Dad. Then we had to go straight home to do some chores to pay our parents back the money we wasted on pool rather than a haircut.
Part II will appear in next month’s issue of Perry Living.