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Tingley Centennial: 1883 ~ 1983


W. H. "Harley" BEEN'S barber shop training began when he was a young boy. His teacher was his mother, Ella BEEN. All of Harley's brothers and sisters had been blessed with very heavy heads of hair, and Harley learned to please them by 'trial and error.' Experience with the public came when friends, relatives, and neighbors began to hear of his ability.

On December 17, 1924, Harley moved his wife, Leona, and their six small children to Tingley to begin his barbering career. Before this time he had farmed, been a salesman, and had barbered in Mt. Ayr and Redding.

The first barber shop that he bought in Tingley was fully-equipped. This building was located on the south side of main street west of the SHEESLEY Grocery Store. Unable to find a house to rent, the BEEN family moved into living quarters in the back of the barber shop where they lived quite comfortably until the following April.

At this time (1924), the price of a shave was 20-cents; a haircut cost 35-cents; or you could get a combination of both for a bargain price of 50-cents. Sound cheap? Just remember that beefsteak could be bought for 25-cents a pound! By working many hours, on a good Saturday, Harley would have around $16.00 in his pocket by the time he locked the door. Business grew, and for the next two years he cut the hair of as many women and girls as he did for the men until the arrival of beauty operators in town.

Besides moving his family in April, Harley also moved his barber shop - this time to the north side of the street into the Howard EDWARDS' building which had been Bert HOUSE'S restaurant. Several years later, fire destroyed this building along with the other Tingley businesses, including Avery JOHNSTON'S barbershop. Unable to find two buildings, Avery and Harley moved in together in a small cement building on the east side of Charlie LENT'S garage and barbered out of this building until the garage caught on fire, spreading through this shop, too. All that was salvaged was some waiting chairs. This was a pretty rough blow being burned out twice in a three month period.

Harley's next move was to George BLUNCK'S garage east of the BRECKENRIDGE Store.

In 1926, a law was passed requiring barbers to be licensed. Harley was one of the first to go to Des Moines to get his; the cost of this license was $3.00.

In 1931 the BEEN family moved to Kanorado, Kansas, where Harley barbered for the next 18 months. Hard times and the Depression saw Kansas wheat drop to 25-cents a bushel. The BEENS decided they would be better off back in Tingley.

Returning to Tingley, Harley went back to the building where he had first begun barbering. By this time Ernie BOSWORTH was the owner of the building. Harley and Ernie were together for the next 24 years - Ernie selling insurance, and Harley barbering.

The Depression took its toll in the barbering business, too. Haircuts had gone down to 25-cents each by this time. The barber shop was open long hours so a living could be made. By starting at 7:00 in the morning and staying open until 10:00 week days and until midnight or later (sometimes as late as 3:00 in the morning . . . if there was a customer, Harley would work) on Saturday nights, he managed to feed his family of 9 children.

Lots of slow afternoons or nights found Walter ESTELL with his fiddle, Avery JOHNSTON with a guitar, Harley with a banjo and mouth harp, and Sam GERMAN playing the fiddle. The barber shop practically rocked with this good ole' foot stompin' music!

Upon Ernie's retirement from the insurance business, and because of their friendship and many years together, Ernie deeded the building over to Harley.

Harley stayed on at this location until he had a heart attack in 1964 when he decided to retire, selling the business to Ron SMITH of Mt. Ayr. Four years later he bought the shop back and continued to operate it until 1972.

Price of haircuts by the time he retired was $1.25.

Harley loves to tell about his most notorious patron, a fellow who had robbed the Afton bank about an hour and a half before he dropped in at the BEEN Barber Shop for a shave and a haircut before going on his way.

Other cherished thought include the fact that he cut hair for many generations of families, including six generations of the WEEDA family.

During the 48 years that Harley was a barber on Tingley's Main Street, there were many changes. The barbershop alwways seemed to be a good place for young and old to gather. Oftentimes some pertty tall tales were told and a few pranks play, but in general, it was to be where people stopped in to "shoot the breeze", giving many a lot of fine memories.

At 88 years of age [1983], Harley still enjoys getting out the old barber tools every now and then to give a family member what he calls a "Good Haircut"!

NOTE: William "Harley" BEEN was born in Maloy, Iowa, April 28, 1894, the son of James Marvin and Ella (MULKEY) BEEN, and died January 30, 1991. Leona G. (SALTZMAN) BEEN was born in 1896, and died in 1976. James Marvin BEEN died at the age of two years on August 28, 1917. They were interred at Rose Hill Cemetery, Mount Ayr, Iowa.

SOURCE: Tingley, Iowa Centennial: 1883 - 1983. Pp. 53-4. PSI, Inc. Belmond IA. 1983.
Courtesy of Mount Ayr Public Library, September of 2011

Transcription and Note by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2011

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