Intelligencer Journal Posted: Saturday, August 13, 2005 9:06 am | Updated: 1:29 am, Wed Sep 11, 2013.
Aileen Humphreys Staff.   Photos by VINNY TENNIS
Lefever, now 67, walked into the barbershop Friday morning for a cut from the new barber, Amy Keller, continuing a longtime Strasburg tradition.
Keller has reopened the shop, which has served the residents of the borough since 1857, according to locals.
She brings her own history to the white, two-story building where, for generations, residents "solved the problems of the world" in the barbershop's chairs, said Marjorie Betts, who grew up three doors away.
The shop is on the first floor, at 18 W. Main St., and an attached house is at 20 W. Main St.
When the shop's longtime barber, Warren Aument, decided to leave last spring, its future was briefly in jeopardy.
The building was sold, and the new owners, Dale and Lois Smith, didn't have anyone to run it -- until Keller contacted the owners out of the blue.
Keller's piece of the barbershop story started with a desire to spend more time with her children, son Devin, 14, and daughter Chantasia, 7.
The single mother said her former barber job kept her away from too many of Devin's football and basketball games because she had to work until 8 p.m.
"I really felt distance from my kids for a couple years," said Keller, who has lived in Strasburg for 13 years.
When she heard from a friend that Aument was leaving the shop after 37 years, she knocked on the door of the house to inquire. She got the Smiths' telephone number.
They had just bought the house from Dale's 97-year-old aunt, Verna Hicks, who wanted to hand over the property to someone else.
Verna's husband, Marty, had been the barber in the mid-1900s, before Aument took over.
The Smiths had been looking for a new barber and didn't know if they would find one. They thought about converting the shop into a store for tourists or a craft shop. But then they heard Keller's voice on their answering machine.
"She sounded so upbeat, and she sounded so excited," Lois said. "And I thought, 'We have to talk to that girl."'
The Smiths agreed to lease the shop to Keller, who soon set out, with the Smiths' help, to revamp the shop, whose walls were stained yellow by 150 years of cigar smoke, Keller said.
While the shop may look different -- black, modern chairs replaced the old wicker seats, and five coats of white paint have brightened the walls -- Keller kept and refurbished many shop relics.
A reclining barber chair made in 1910 sits on a new, black-and-white checkered floor.
Hours of polishing revealed brass handles on the big bureau that holds supplies. Verna sent over old cigar boxes and shaving cups from her husband's days that are displayed on a shelf.
Keller worked on the shop from May until opening day, July 14.
Verna, who continued to live in the attached house, "just couldn't wait for me to open," Keller said, but she didn't live to see customers at the shop again. She died at home July 13.
Glimpses of the shop's history can be found in deeds, photographs and memories that have been passed down over generations.
"A Strasburg Heritage," published by Strasburg Heritage Society in 1976, includes a photograph of the shop, with three men outside, circa 1900, when it was Allen McKinney's Barber Shop. McKinney is the first known barber there.
The photograph shows a barber pole outside. A replica, fashioned by Dale Smith from wood and painted by Lois, now stands in its place. The shop also features a wooden sign above the door made by the Smiths.
In 1931, a McKinney family member sold the house to Naomi Stomp, Allen's niece, according to a deed. Betts' grandfather had his hair cut by Naomi's brothers, John and Scott, and has a photograph to prove it.
Relatives of the Stomps then sold the house to Marty Hicks in 1951.
Under Keller, the shop now cuts men's and boys' hair for $12 and women's and girls' hair for $15 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekdays, Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Friday afternoon, Betts stopped in to reminisce, recalling the haircuts she got there in the 1920s .
"It's just lovely, and it smells so good," she said of the renovated shop.
"That would have been terrible if it was something else. It's been a barbershop forever."