Faron Wahl, Manager.
It would come as no surprise to most that I was never the hippie type. You know, as in the counterculture hippies of the 1960’s and early 70’s. But I recall well the visuals of the era. Who could forget?
The Woodstock festival came together 50 years ago this week, August 15-18, near Bethel, New York – yet another milestone anniversary of an impacting (albeit controversial) occurrence in our nation. While I don’t intend to dedicate this column to it, one might consider for a moment the impact of that period’s social unrest on a 3-year-old fledgling Prairie Village.
Whether you find delightful or uncouth that gathering of roughly a half-million people at a dairy farm music festival isn’t my point here. Either way a barometer of the turmoil of those days, I wonder how that movement played out in conversations around our tent-covered carousel. How many visitors dropping by our yet-sparsely dotted real estate west of Madison waved the “peace and love” flag, and how were they received?
Back in early June I wrote about conversations that likely occurred in our historic barbershop during World War II around D-Day. This week I got a sure glimpse into some different but actual customer interactions in that same cozy shop. You just can’t beat these fully verified little nuggets of our past.
Lelend and Marjean Stotz of Tolstoy, SD paid us a visit, and Lelend shared his memories as they relate to our exhibit. It turns out Lelend got haircuts for many years during grade and early high school in that very barbershop that now sits on our Main Street, back when it stood on Tolstoy’s Main Street. Given this concrete connection, I allowed them inside for a very close-up trip down memory lane.
Lelend immediately recognized the dark, worn booster seat, a smooth wood board laid across the chair arms to elevate the seated position of small kids. It’s still there – the same board – with one of the lower cleats still in place to keep the board from sliding off. Recalling sitting atop that very perch, Leland examined it with a look of certain familiarity, like a guy checking his own watch.
He shared that he didn’t know for many years his barber’s name was Harold, as everyone called him Ole. Typical for small towns of that era, the barbershop and other businesses would stay open late on Wednesday and Saturday evenings, allowing country folks coming to town to trade and take care of other business, like getting a haircut. And while Ole wasn’t fast, his customers did get to pick up a little baseball during their sit.
As Lelend described it, Ole regularly listened to the Aberdeen Pheasants baseball games on his shop radio, and since it didn’t receive the greatest signal, he would frequently pause from his clipping to turn and bend down near the speaker to catch the play by play. Leland laughed as he related that every single time this occurred, Ole managed to drop his comb as he returned to his barbering task.
Various fixtures around the room were memory catalysts for Lelend as he looked around, specifically the green bench that sat along the right wall. It was typically occupied by a person or two who had only stopped by to visit, he told me. Kind of brings an Andy Griffith / Floyd’s Barbershop image to mind, doesn’t it?
Incidentally, this whole structure has a fresh look, thanks to the excellent volunteer work put in recently by Shawn and Baillie VanderWal. As with any project they tackle, they took great care with the details, including background work regarding discovering the original trim color: green. Like so many good and well-organized volunteer projects going on, they wanted it done right, including that color.
According to Lelend, they nailed it. And he would know.