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Dakota Clipper: 1942

Dakota Clipper: 1942

February 1942. "Timber Lake, Dewey County, South Dakota. Barber shop." Medium format acetate negative by John Vachon for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Keep it glassy

I'd love to add those old glass bottles to my (small but significant) collection.

Pa Kettle, Is that you?

The customer is a dead ringer for Percy Kilbride, aka Pa Kettle (although the part down the middle looks more like Alfalfa).

'20s style

The man in the chair who appears to be close to 50 is still wearing his hair in the parted-in-the-middle style of the 1920s!

The good life

Being a barber in that area and era (or any era) would seem to be a pretty
comfortable life, other then the cuts and nicks in the beginning.

But once you become a competent barber you're always warm & clean.
especially considering the weather beaten guy in the chair is only 40.

Great Pheasant!

Great area for pheasant hunting as noted by the clock bird. I assume this is why Alfalfa's father is getting a trim.

Barber needs a shave?

But does he shave himself?

This barbershop had a mascot

In the shadow underneath the window is a small dog and what appears to be a food bowl. Clipper would have been a good name.

[Or maybe Harry. That's a spittoon and a pile of hair. - Dave]

Not just for men

There are some barbers who work on both men's & women's hair. I know, because I go to one. In fact he advertises that on his calendars.

That's weird

I can smell this photo.

Saturday Evening Post?

I swear this looks just like something done by Norman Rockwell. Especially the expressions on the men's faces.

Not an Alberta Clipper

... but cutting it pretty close.

Searching the 1930 and '40 US Census, I find a barber in Timber Lake named Henry Perron. But wait, there's more! His son William is also listed as a barber, and Henry Jr. is listed as an Apprentice at the barber shop. The 1940 Census indicates Henry Jr. has moved to Illinois, but William is still in business with his father.

In 1942, William would have turned 34 years old. As father Henry would have been 67 in '42, it seems likely we see William in this photo.

Henry's parents were born in Canada, and with the surname of Perron, you'd be correct in supposing he's of French Canadian stock. (Henry's page at Find A Grave: )

Below is an edited capture from the 1930 Census.

Surprisingly, there is also a Dane named Arlo L. Jensen Sr. who is listed as a barber in Timber Lake in the 1940 Census. However, he is in his mid-50's in 1942, and our man here appears a bit younger. Apparently many a mane was to be shorn in the Timber Lake demesne!

Good Exposure Inside and Out

John Vachon certainly knew how to use flash or a large photo-flood. The edges of both the barber and customer are quite hard, which gives me pause. But notice the car in the window, and its reflection in the mirror.

Worth a look:

Vachon the virtuoso

Impressive how he managed to avoid getting his flash, camera or himself in any of the multitude of reflections possible, what with the mirrors and windows and windows reflected in mirrors.

[The reflections are there in the negative but I got rid of 'em. - Dave]

South Dakota for sure!

It wouldn't be South Dakota without the rooster pheasant on the clock! That state is rich in pheasant.


Is the Dakota Clipper related to the Spruce Goose?
And the barber needs a shave.
The building across the street is a real architectural showpiece!


It's interesting how few of the implements around that shop would be out of place today. Step into that barber shop today you'd maybe just see an added hair dryer. It's like the barber shop reached perfection about 100 years ago and can't be improved upon! Few other professions seem to have changed so little.

Two Chairs - No Waiting

I'm guessing that the second chair didn't get much use. Timber Lake had a population of 512 in 1940. If half of those (256) were men, I figure that's about enough to keep one barber employed. Or two barbers in poverty.

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