As we continue exploring the history of Perry barbers, we’re beginning with the story of Clark Dorman.
Clark and his wife had a 12-chair beauty shop in Des Moines prior to returning to Perry, where Clark worked for Polly Godown. This shop was in the same location as the Overton Brothers, Bud and Don’s shop. Clark then went to work for Art Fisher at his shop on Willis Avenue. It is said that Art concocted his own tonic in the back of the shop and both sold and used the tonic. The tonic must have had a lot of alcohol in it, as most said it burned like fire. It was at this time that Clark purchased the basement shop on Willis where he worked with Roy Castell and was later joined by Clark’s son, Denny, who cut hair in the military and worked for his father. Denny says the family still has the gum ball and peanut machines, the cash register and six oak chairs from the shop. Perry resident Rick Stoner, also worked for Clark. Clark retired in the late ’70s and sold the shop to Lyle Langford.
Local Dick Kestel went to barber school in 1967 and worked part time for Clark Dorman until Dick went to work for Oscar Mayer for 11 years. Dick and I worked on several jobs together until he left Oscar Mayer in 1983. While working at Oscar Mayer, Dick barbered part time for Overtons and eventually bought the shop. Dick’s shop was the only barber shop I have seen with a “take a number” machine. You took a number when you walked in so Dick or Al Shimers, part-time barber, could tell who was next. Three months after Dick’s untimely passing in 1996, his wife, Billie, kept the shop running until 2002. Billie then moved the business to her home at 1723 Sixth St. where she continues styling hair.
This brings me to our many pool hall barbers. One is Bill West, who was in Hylbak‘s Pool Hall on the west side of the triangle during the ’50s. Bill later moved next to Stoner’s on Second Street. Ole Rudisel worked at Farnham’s Pool Hall on Willis. Ole saved our sideburns and ducktails until our parents saw us.
John Rion who was also a military barber, had his shop east of Mau Drug. Then he moved his shop out to his house on Willis.
Many Perry residents drove to Rippey where they could get their hair cut by LeRoy Overman, saving a whopping 25 cents.
Perry had its fair share of great barbers, but there was more there than just that. It was the people, the stories and the experiences.