When a guy wants to get a haircut in Altenburg these days, about the only option he has is to walk into a “style shop” where a female is the “barber”. In my case, my wife cuts my hair. There was once a era when there was an unwritten rule that women would not enter the sacred ground of an old-fashioned barber shop. I am old enough to remember having my hair cut in such an establishment. I am also one of those traditionalists who laments the fact that such establishments are such a rarity nowadays.
Altenburg once had one of these good old-fashioned barber shops. As near as I can tell, it was originally called the Christensen Barber Shop, and its first proprietor was William Christensen.
Although I cannot pin down an exact year, this barber shop probably got started in the late 1800’s. William Christenson was a boarder at the Wagner Hotel in the 1900 Altenburg census.
This census indicates that William was born in Iowa. His father was born in Switzerland, and his mother was born in Denmark. William was 42 years old at the time of this census. The fact that he is living at the Wagner Hotel indicates that he was probably not married.
We also know that William was still around for the 1910 census.
Although William is not shown as being a boarder in this census, we do see him listed right below the records for those who are running the Wagner Hotel, so I am guessing he was still living there.
Here is a photo of the barber shop which was taken later.
For those who are somewhat familiar to Altenburg, Pete’s Place was next to the barber shop, and the Wagner Hotel building is the larger home you can see beyond the Standard Service sign. A woman by the name of Mamie Mueller lived above the barber shop.
Here is what this area looks like today.
The barber shop was located approximately where the ATM machine at the new bank is now located.
We have a photo of the interior of the barber shop. It is obvious to me that this was a male-oriented place…..what we might call a Man Cave today.
After William Christensen was no longer in Altenburg, the barber shop was taken over by Oswald Schade. Here is a photo of him.
Now there is a man who looks like a barber. I would be proud to sit in his barber chair. That is one impressive handlebar mustache.
A few others who were said to have been barbers in Altenburg in those days were Eberhardt Kuntze (left) and my Uncle Arnold Schmidt (right).
The last barber to cut hair for men in Altenburg in this building was Dave Myers, who came to town just two days a week and lived in Old Appleton. We have a photo which was taken inside his Old Appleton shop which is reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting.
I cannot help but think about a man who was probably the most famous fictional barber…..Floyd the Barber…..from the Andy Griffith Show. The barber shop was a place where men would gather to not only get their hair cut, but also to tell stories. And some of them were possibly true.
I hope these barber shops make a comeback someday.