The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


September 27, 2013

Old Time Barbershops

This is the front room of 92 Main Avenue, which was perhaps the oldest barbershop in Iowa, and owned by Herman Dreesen. In the picture from the left are Charlie Ashton, Herman “Pickles” Dreesen, and Charlie Overkamp, from a picture owned by Jack and Mary Soesbe.


Old time barbershops were for so much more than a haircut! They were social clubs and a time for conviviality among men. In really olden days, two hundred years ago, a red and white swirly barber pole signified surgical or dental services, like blood-letting, common in George Washington’s day. That soon gave way to shops of the 1850 -1950 era, when a trip to the barber shop might entail a “shave and haircut… two bits” (a quarter). It might also include meeting dozens of friends, getting a bath, having a shoeshine, playing cards, and, once shaving became popular, barbers used a razor strop to sharpen a straight-edge and have at your face.


The old tonsorial experts (barbers) first learned their trade by apprenticing; later, they had to go to barber school. “Little Harry” Turner hung around the Montgomery Shop in South Clinton and began honing his skills as a teenager… when he was even smaller.


All the barbers seemed to have nicknames: “Shaky Ed” Montgomery; “Wigs” Clausen, up on North Fourth near Bartels’ Garage, where Don Davis would go through the bar to get “Wigs” to come forward and give a cut. There was, of course, “Ripper” Collins, Johnny “Blue Nose” Hanson, and “Pickles” Dreesen. Ahhh, “Pickles” Dreesen.


Dreesen had, perhaps, the oldest barbershop in Iowa, on Main Ave. by Lyons High School. He was way more than a barber, starting at his location in 1901; later selling it to Charlie Overkamp, who was followed by Jack Soesbe, who ended its reign in 2005. “Pickles” was a terrific businessman… and as tight as they come! He cashed checks for ten cents and his fortune grew, until at one time he owned several Main Avenue buildings plus several farms. His home was the Polly Ball House on North 2nd Street. His given name was Herman, but everyone in town knew him as “Pickles.”

Text Only
  • Longman.jpg Stars and stripes to fly at half-staff

    Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has ordered all flags in Iowa to be flown at half-staff from 5 p.m. today until 8 a.m. Monday in honor of a World War II airman, whose remains were recovered more than 70 years after being killed in action.
    Lt. Louis L. Longman, a 26-year old at the time he was last seen April 16, 1944, was a Clinton native. He served with the U.S. Army Air Corps Air Force and when he was last seen, his unit was returning from a B-25 bomber escort mission over Hollandia, New Guinea.

    April 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • DeBey building Program highlights newspaper's impact FULTON, Ill. -- A presentation Sunday will focus on the historical aspect of a Fulton newspaper. The program about the Fulton Journal will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Fulton Museum, 707 10th Ave. Refreshments will be served. The Fulton (Martin Ho

    April 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • Drive-in theatre dominant Clinton's own drive-in theater Spring brings many thoughts, but taking the family out to see a big-screen movie at the Clinton Drive-In Theatre on Iowa 136 and North 16th Street is sadly no longer an option. Large families were thirsting for family activities after World War II.

    April 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • 140407_GT_OUT_Forster_1.jpg Revolutionary War flag could fetch millions at auction

    An iconic piece of history from the Revolutionary War is up for auction through Doyle New York, an auction and appraising company in New York City.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clinton woman featured in World War II photo exhibit CHICAGO -- A portrait of one of the Clinton women who wiped grime from railroad locomotives during World War II is featured in a new exhibition at the Chicago History Museum, "Railroaders: Jack Delano's Homefront Photography." She is Dorothy (Steven

    March 29, 2014

  • Longmann 70 years in the making: WWII soldier to be honored Imagine three boys, orphaned in the midst of the Great Depression, moving from Minnesota to an adjacent state to live with extended family. How hard it would be to lose both parents and, then, have to move away and take up a new life in a strange tow

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dale Gardner astronaut collage Let's celebrate our successful people There are many famous and successful people who have called Clinton home. We need to celebrate their lives as well as all of their contributions. Recently, former astronaut Dale Gardner, 65, died. He and two other astronauts have connections with Cli

    March 14, 2014 3 Photos

  • Herrity history Another look at winter memories Recently, a newspaper proclaimed, "It's Official, 2014 is Worst Winter in Memory." Not so fast, 20-somethings. Don't discount many octogentarians who will recall those swirling winds of 1936. Winters of old are legendary for hard times caused by sev

    February 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • High school building High school correspondence: '68 and '88

    Not even a towering inferno which destroyed their high school could deplete the resiliency of the CHS students of 1968. This is the story of the sophomore English class of Mrs. Jaeger on May 29, 1968. They had just endured living through a horrible

    January 31, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • A glimpse of Clinton in the past

    1855 was a year that saw a number of significant events.

    December 30, 2013