Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunday Stories: Harold Humphrey Barber Shop

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial 1891 – 1991, published in 1991.

Harold Humphrey began “barbering” in his father’s (James F. Humphrey) shop when he was in his teens. Following his graduation from high school, he worked full time in this shop. During the early part of the century in Sutherland, the Barber Shop was one of the “Social Centers” of the village. Men congregated here for monumental discussions, and to solve all kinds of problems of the world, and to play checkers. A checker board was a necessity at that time.
Harold worked with his father until January, 1926 when he moved with his wife Edith, and two sons. Donald and Charles, to North Platte, where he had purchased a barber shop near the old State Theatre, north of the railroad tracks on Jeffers Street.

In July, 1926, Harold moved back to Sutherland. He purchased the barber fixtures owned by Doris Dunn and Lorna Hilliard in the building on the east side of Walnut Street between First and Second Streets. The “Girls Shoppe” operated by Doris and Lorna was moving to a different location. This building was part of a building owned by Art Yates.

As was the custom of those years, there was a shower bath installed in the barber shop. This shower was used by many in the area since “indoor plumbing” was not too widespread at this time.

In 1937, Harold purchased some dry cleaning equipment from a shop in Gothenburg. In April of 1938, the steam spotting and pressing equipment was installed in the back part of the barber shop. Edith worked in the dry-cleaning as time permitted.
In 1941, Harold and Edith purchased the E. C. Brown buildings on the corner of First and Walnut. The old “warehouse” to the north of the building on the corner was torn down and the front remodeled into a barber shop, cleaning shop, and an apartment.
Harold barbered in this shop until the summer of 1949 when his son Charles and wife Marilyn returned to Sutherland to operate the dry cleaning shop. At that time, Harold built a small building in the vacant lot just west of the barber shop. Edith retired, and Harold continued barbering until March 1953, at which time he retired and moved to their farm by Sarben, Nebraska, where they remodeled the house there and lived until Harold passed away suddenly August 17, 1971.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sunday Stories: Harold Elmer and Edith (Smith) Humphrey

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial 1891 – 1991, published in 1991.

Harold Elmer Humphrey was born in Sutherland, Nebraska on July 24, 1901, to James Fernando and Irma Jane (Pierson) Humphrey. He attended elementary and high school here, graduating with the Class of 1919. Following graduation, he attended college in Lincoln, Nebraska for a period of time. He returned to Sutherland, joining his father in the barber shop located on the west side of Walnut Street in downtown Sutherland.
Harold and Edith Humphrey
Edith Adelaide Smith was born in Schuyler, Nebraska, on January 7, 1904, the youngest child of Charles Henry and Adelaide (Lawrence) Smith. When she was twelve, the family moved to the Platte Valley community west of North Platte, then to Sutherland several years later.

Harold and Edith were secretly married on March 29, 1921. Their “secret” was revealed several weeks later as Edith was still in high school. The members of the school board had to make a decision, whether or not Edith should be allowed to complete her senior year and graduate with her class. She received a favorable decision.

Harold worked in his father’s shop until 1926, at which time he purchased a shop in North Platte and moved the family. In 1928 he purchased a shop in Sutherland, moving the family back. They also purchased a home on Pine Street at this time.

Harold and Elizabeth were the parents of two sons, Donald Harold, born May 17, 1922 and Charles James, born March 3, 1924. Donald passed away on December 18, 1929, following a short illness. Charles grew up in the community, served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, completed college, married, and has resided here since.

Harold continued to barber for many years. Soon after buying their home, they enlarged it as they needed more room. During the depression in the thirties, Edith housed and prepared meals for a number of school teachers. When construction of the Reservoir began, the main floor of their home was rented to a civil engineer and his wife, their garage was converted to sleeping quarters for several men working construction, the family moved to the basement. When water began coming into the basement due to the high water table, they moved into the garage.

During the depression years, Harold would “barber” for about anything in payment for his services. One rancher would let his bill grow until he could pay with a quarter of beef. Harold also received cream, chickens, turkeys, and garden produce in payment.

Edith was a talented musician. In the days of silent films at the theatre, she played the piano for the “Mood Music”. Music played a large role in her life. She could play any song “by ear” after hearing it once. She was involved in the choir at the Methodist Church for many years.
In 1938, they established a Dry Cleaning business, first behind the barber shop on the east side of Walnut Street, later in the building they acquired on the corner of First and Walnut. This change of location was made in 1943.
When Charles and his wife, Marilyn, returned to Sutherland in 1949 to operate the dry cleaning business, Harold built a new barber shop, attaching it to the west side of the corner building. A barber shop is still being operated at this location.
In 1953, Harold sold the barber shop, moving to a farm they owned near Sarben. For a number of years, they spent the winter months in warmer areas of the south and southwestern USA, spending much of their time playing contract bridge.


They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on March 29, 1971. They continued living on the farm until Harold passed away suddenly August 17, 1971. At this time, Edith moved back to Sutherland. She traveled extensively overseas and in the United States in her remaining years. Edith passed away on March 7, 1979. Both are interred in the Riverview Cemetery at Sutherland.

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