Ed Unger’s Stylerite Barber Shop

I had pictures of Ed Unger cutting hair as one of my earliest blog posts. I’m not sure which of the shops this was taken in, but the story had some of his background and some good comments from folks who knew him.

Stylerite Barber Shop

After I finished shooting the photos of the Pure Ice Co., I took a cruise by Good Hope. I’ve been meaning to do a spread on the Haarig District, as it’s called, but keep putting if off.

As I walked down the 300 block of South Sprigg looking in the windows of empty shops, I noticed the back door of the old Stylerite Barber shop was open. My feeling is that an open door in an empty building says “Come In” unless there’s a No Trespassing sign next to it.

The 1968 City Directory lists Edwin Unger’s name under the Stylerite, so this must have been his shop in that era.

Stepping back in time

As it turned out, luck was with me. Just as I got behind the building, a guy pulled in with a long ladder and I offered to help him unload it. (Declined, by the way.) We got to talking and it turned out he owns 329 Good Hope and the buildings in the 300 block of Sprigg, including my target at 312.

Even better, he removed a chain that would have kept me out and said to “have at it. Just lock it up when you’re done.”

As I stood in the barber shop taking this self portrait, I wondered if I had looked into that very mirror when I was the age of the kid on the booster seat. Dad had an office upstairs in the old Farmers and Merchants Bank across the street, so Ed was probably our barber of choice for convenience sake.

Recessive art gene comes out

I never had never been out the back door, so I didn’t know there was what appears to be a concrete patio behind the building. The warm colors of the shop, the neat tones of the old tin, the cool textures brought out the art geek in me. It’s a recessive gene, so it doesn’t show often.

Stylerite Barber Shop photo gallery

Here’s a collection of photos taken in and around the Stylerite. We’ll look at the other buildings in Haarig another time. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

26 Replies to “Ed Unger’s Stylerite Barber Shop”

  1. Got many a haircut at Mr. Unger’s shop. He was also a neighbor on Rodney Vista Blvd. His son, David, was a good friend, and a ’65 graduate of the old College High.

  2. I have always loved that little strip of shops. I often wonder how neat it would be to bring it back to life.

  3. Ken,

    I think every photo you take is a work of art and especially loved these. Thanks again for all you do to enlighten our lives with wonderful memories of some very good times.

  4. Sat in the chairs at Ed Unger’s shop a many a time. I was not the only who got lost in the barbershop effect (the multiple refections that happens with two parallel mirrors are lined up) and as I remember, when your haircut was finished he worked in WildRoot Hair Tonic and then handed you a stick of Juciyfruit gum.

    Hanging on the wall was always a poster that had Men’s hair styles back then to choose from. Mostly Flat-top and Crewcuts, but the poster also had beard and sideburn styles as well.

    (here is a link to an old Wildroot TV commercial touting the positive effects of Lanolin.

  5. I remember several barber shops in Cape. I remember Mr Unger’s shop and I remember one around the corner in the middle of block on Good Hope. On Main Street in downtown Cape where the old First National Bank building was before it was torn down, there was a barber shop in the basement. There was a shop on Fountain St in the old Marquette Hotel. Later there was a shop west of the old First Baptist Church, I think it was called College Barber Shop. In the early 1980s before I moved from Cape I went to Bill Sisco’s on Broadway. On a recent visit I see Sisco’s is now on Sprigg Street north of Broadway.

  6. I strongly second my brother Pep’s comments about Mr. Unger in response to your earlier piece. In many ways, he became one of several father figures who stepped in to influence a couple of young guys who lost their father at an early age (1952, Korean War). He and David were central in our Boy Scout experience – as Pete Wadlington was in my baseball experience – and Al Underwood and Max Blitstein and Leon Shell were as fathers of friends. Ed was certainly one of those big figures in my life. Thanks again for bringing back a lot of great memories, Ken.

  7. This is a wonderful tribute to a good man. I dated David in for several years until he went into the Navy and went to their home many times. Mr. Unger was a quiet man who held a position of respect and honor in his home. Julia loved him very much. She was a retired nurse. Gosh this brings back old memories.

  8. Love the photos, I too have always loved that row of shops. Who but an art geek would pick up on the beauty of deteriorating structures, the hues & patinas of aging. I can see the tin being of special interest to photo studios & decorators, the exposed brick…salvage of character touched by characters in times gone by…

  9. Haarig (I usually heard it pronounced Horrick) was always a curiousity for me. Likewis there were other parts of Cape that had their own names; Marval City Heights, and Red Star. I assumed that they all had a history of their own and may have been isolated from the original Bartholemew Plan of Cape but have never heard them.

  10. I went to both of Ed’s Barber Shops. I think the other one’s name was Campus Barber Shop which was on Broadway by the First Baptist Church. Ed was a friend of my parents and his son David was a friend of mine. I was best man in David’s wedding. We stayed in touch after he got out of the Navy and I got out of the Army. This does bring back alot of memories.

  11. Ken, great pictures as alway – it’s sad that the “artistic” pictures are usually of buildings that are in such poor condition. ALSO,I do have a technical question for you – I seem to have lost the ability to “click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.” I get the larger picture when I click, but then have to go back and open each one individually – help?

    1. Bev,

      I found a long time ago that photos of old people are infinitely more interesting than those of young folks. Those wrinkles and laugh lines tell a story.

      Old buildings are the same way for me. There’s more money in architectural photography of new buildings, but my heart was never there.

      The reason you were only able to open one picture at a time is that the page hadn’t finished fully loading. I know you’re excited to get to the good stuff (blush, grin, shuffle toe in the sand), but give it a few more seconds and the “Lightbox” feature should work.

      The first time it happened to me, I about panicked, thinking something was broken.

      One other annoying quirk: if you return to a page you’ve already viewed, you usually have to press Ctrl-F5 to bring up any new material.

  12. Ken, Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I have lots of memories from the days of the Stylerite Barber Shop. Also was great to read the comments by the friends I knew while growing up.

  13. Ken,
    You never cease to amze me with your photo updates of
    vintage Cape Girardeau. This “barber shop” roundup
    is a fun treat…you have a special knack for zeroing
    into topics and scenes that people love. Thanks! JAB

    1. Thanks for the compliment. I have the advantage of distance and closeness. I’ve been around long enough that I know what used to be here, but by not being around all the time, I can see the changes.

      It’s fun and fascinating to see which stories resonate with readers. I can never predict what folks are going to like.

  14. The barber that was next to the window was T. Donnamueller(not sure of spelling), then Mr Ungers chair and a guy that had an eye blink in the last chair if I remember right. Remember the place well. Thanks for the memories.

  15. Well…I always used the Campus and the Varsity Shops on Broadway. I remember the shoe shine guy… in each, but the one across for the Esquire was the best. I remember asking how many shoes were shined in one day at the shop…The answer was laughs and a hearty “who cares!”…as a young study of economics I really was confused. Why was the idea of a shoe shine man and the question of how many shoes he shined in one day was considered a funny question?
    There I learned of making book, points to win beating the spread. Ah, the barber shop and why some guys were in the shop everyday! I remember seeing the mayor and many of the movers and shakers in the city walk in the door, leave a pair shoes and return the next day…

    Most likely Mr. Unger’s shops only cut hair and did well and stayed in business cutting hair…Those where the days, I liked my shops better…

  16. I grew up on Rodney Vista and The Unger’s lived a few houses down from us. They were great neighbors. I often wonder where their son David is now.

    1. I think David and his wife still live in Cape. It has been a bunch of years since I saw him.
      The Ungers [spelling corrected for Bob] were friends with my parents. Ed and my mom went to school together.

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