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By Mike Scott
After 55 year of barbering in Kahoka, Ron Wiegand is putting away his scissors and clippers.
Growing up on a farm just outside Mt. Sterling, Iowa, Ron and his family moved to Kahoka when he was nine years old, as his father’s health was failing.
In high school, Ron worked at the Orbit Inn, “flipping hamburgers for fifty cents and hour”.
Ron graduated from Kahoka High School in 1964. After that, he worked at Gardner- Denver and at the Iowa Ammunition Plant before heading to St. Louis for barber school.
“I was looking for a trade to fall back on if I got laid off somewhere. I didn’t figure on doing it for 55 years,” he said.
“At that time, there were two barber colleges in Missouri,” Ron said. “I went to the Moler Barber College at 8th and Washington, four or five blocks from the ballpark.”
To become a barber, students take six months of classwork at the college, then apprentice for a year and a half before taking their board exams to become a licensed barber.
“When I got out of school, Gary Cameron had just left working for Bob Lapsley, so I started working here in my home town,” Ron said.
After a year and a half, Ron passed his boards.
“It was very difficult. It started with a haircut and shave, which was easy because you’d been doing it for a year and a half. After that, there were a hundred questions. A lot of guys got out of the study habit while they were working, and a lot of guys failed. But I studied hard and passed, and became a licensed barber.”
At the time, Lapsley’s shop was located where State Farm Insurance is now. In 1971, that building was purchased by Dick Brewer, and Ron purchased his current building, which was owned by Clark Mutual Insurance before they moved to the west side of square.
“It was kind of a odd deal,” Ron said. “I worked for Bob, but he rented from me.”
A year or so later, Bob retired, and Ron has been on his own ever since.
“Haircuts were of the shorter style in the late sixties, and early seventies hit with longer hair style. A lot of barber shops closed, but it didn’t affect our area too bad, although I might cut a school boy’s hair two or three times in one day, because the schools had a certain length for boys to wear, and if it wasn’t short enough, they were sent back,” he said.
“You’d think it would be boring, but it’s different every day,” Ron said of his career. “Every person is a different challenge, and every haircut is different.”
“It’s been real good,” said Ron. “I have enjoyed working for the public for all these years, and I appreciate the support of my customers over the years. My goal was to treat people the way I wanted to be treated, so I took pride in my work and tried to do the best job I could for every customer. I want to thank everyone. This is a great place to raise a family.”
In retirement, Ron plans to “play a little more golf” and he will be moving to Quincy.