Silver Bay is home to the last barber in Lake CountyAntique fishing lures—Lazy Ikes--hung over the mirror. Antlered mounts graced the walls, interspersed with old rusty traps, a rifle, snowshoes and miniature cars. Those things, and the red, white and blue pole outside the building, hardly needed the accompanying sign, "North Shore Barber Shop," to proclaim this a place where men gather.
By: Monica Isley, Lake County News Chronicle
It was definitely a masculine domain.
Antique fishing lures—Lazy Ikes--hung over the mirror. Antlered mounts graced the walls, interspersed with old rusty traps, a rifle, snowshoes and miniature cars. Those things, and the red, white and blue pole outside the building, hardly needed the accompanying sign, "North Shore Barber Shop," to proclaim this a place where men gather.
"I have women customers, too," Ward Danielson said.
Ah well, today's world is a place of equal opportunity.
Nevertheless, it was men who wandered in and out while the interview was being carried on, men who enjoyed the privilege of being groomed by the only barber in Lake County.
Why so few barbers?
"I don't know. I guess the young guys these days don't want to stand on their feet all day long," said Danielson.
He worked as he talked. Greg Kellerman sat under the red-and-white striped cape, not moving his head, but grinning and quipping as the conversation progressed. Pretty fancy cape, isn't it?
"I've got blaze orange for deer season, and camo for grouse season," said Danielson, who has been cutting hair in this spot for 11 years. Barbershop haute couture.
The shop itself has been there since 1967. Danielson took it over after Jeff Timm died. Before him there was Ambrose Meyer, and before that it was Art Dahl, and... Memory failed at that point. Even the long-time residents, waiting in line for their turn, couldn't remember where it all began.
For Danielson, it began when he was a young man who was trying to figure out what to do with his life. A buddy's mother suggested being a barber, and the idea stuck. Nine months of schooling, two years of apprenticeship, and he was ready to go out on his own. He eventually had a place in Fridley, but "I always wanted to live on the North Shore."
"Our family came up here three or four times a year, camping and fishing," he said, clipping and snipping on Kellerman's hair. "I really like it up here."
Getting here was almost accidental. He was sitting on a bar stool at Bluefin Bay when someone mentioned the Silver Bay barber had died. Danielson sold his half of the shop he was in and made the move north.
He took the orange velvet wallpaper off the walls, added his and others conversation pieces, and carried on the tradition.
"Those are Bob Eckstrom's lures," he said. "He changes them a couple times a year." The antler and head mounts belong to him, his father-in-law and those men whose trophies fell victim to wives' redecorating schemes.
There aren't many rules of behavior. He tries not to talk about religion or politics—"but sometimes I can't shut up"--doesn't allow smoking, and serves up a can of beer with a haircut on most Fridays.
"Is that legal? I can do that, right?" he asked. At this point, his customer was former Silver Bay police chief Wayne Billings, who just grinned a non-committal smile. They decided that since the beer is free, it's fine.
Many customers make appointments, and their names are duly noted on a chalk board Danielson inherited from the last owner. But it's not uncommon for the guys to stick their heads in the door looking for an empty spot on the schedule. They did it this day.
"I can get you in right after Wayne here," Danielson told Cliff Johnson. Eventually, Bob Connor and Sam Henke showed up, both claiming to have 11:15 appointments. Danielson intervened. One of them was actually 11:30. Henke leaned back, hands behind his head, and settled in for what he obviously anticipated as a pleasant wait.
It isn't just the locals who stop by, though.
"I got people coming all the way from Isabella," Danielson, still snipping and clipping but on a new head now. "And one guy who owns a place on the lake comes up every month from Florida."
For a haircut?
"Well, I think he just wants to spend time in his cabin," Danielson said. Some of his former customers from the Cities also stop by when they're in this area.
Except for the drunk who tipped him $40, Danielson said there haven't been any really memorable customers. No one's ever died, although a few have fallen asleep in the chair. No one's been famous. It's mostly just friends and neighbors who like a little personal attention now and then, some camaraderie, and a dose of male atmosphere.
Danielson arrived in Silver Bay a single, then met and married local resident Vicki Olson. It's pretty likely the last barber in Lake County will be around for a while.