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.

Main Street and Doors

This single frame was on a roll with the flood photos I ran the other day. I didn’t see anything in the paper, so it must have been a routine medical call that didn’t warrant additional photos. News photographers always shoot first and ask questions later. I used to tell reporters that my machine didn’t come with a backspace or an eraser. If I didn’t capture it right then, it wasn’t possible to redo it or get it over the phone. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

There are some interesting things visible in the photo. The tall, skinny guy on the left under the restaurant sign might be my old debate partner, Pat Sommers. Looks like the person is wearing shades like Pat was prone to do (even in a movie theater). The temperature was a warm 78 degrees. The St. Charles Hotel has been torn down recently enough that Tom Sawyer’s Fence still hides the Sterling store construction.

There is no Downtown Clock in the middle of the Themis – Main Street intersection.

Zickfield’s door

When I was looking for photos that might show the street in modern times, I scrolled through some pictures of Zickfield’s Jewelers, one of only about two businesses left on Main Street from this era. The door caught my eye. Not the door so much, as the lock on the top of the right-hand door. How many thousands of times has a key been turned in that lock to wear away the finish that much?

Unnerstall’s door

That door triggered the memory of another door I had photographed in April of this year – Unnerstall’s Drug Store on Good Hope. I’m sure that the people who PULL on this door today don’t have any idea who or what an Unnerstall was.

Santa Search Causes My Head to Hurt

Santa Claus photo printed to emphasize background buildingI’ve been poking around trying to figure out where the Santa picture was taken that I posted here. I’ve looked at Google Maps, Topofusion Maps and every current photo I took last month. My head hurts.

Brother Mark suggested it might have been taken from Shivelbine’s Music on Broadway, but I pretty much dismissed that. (And not just because he’s my brother.)

Here’s a second frame taken from a slightly different angle that shows that the business across the street is, indeed, a bar and / or cafe.  Note the six windows that are visible on the second floor. (Click on the image to make it larger.)

Southeast Missourian photographer Fred Lynch came up with another theory.

Fred’s message and photos

It looks like the Santa in the window photo was taken in the 600 block of Good Hope in the Haarig District.

I shot these photos today.

Photo #1, the building in the background

The south side of the 600 block of Good Hope in Cape Girardeau's Haarig District

In photo #1, notice the three-story building on the left. It appears that is in the background of your Santa photo. At the far right in the Santa photo, notice the two-story building.

Photo #2, the building from which the photo was taken

The north side of the 600 block of Good Hope in Cape Girardeau's Haarig District

The Santa photo has a utility pole in it. In photo #2, notice the utility pole in front of the building.

The buildings have changed much over the years.

I am not sure which building was Unnerstall’s since it has changed.

It could be, it might not be

Like Fred says, the street has changed so much that it’s hard to tell what was there 40 years ago. The best reference I have is a 1979 Cape Girardeau City Directory that lists what business were in the 600 block of Good Hope. Even in 1979 it was depressing to see how many addresses were marked “Vacant.”

North side of 600 Block of Good Hope

Here is what the directory shows for the addresses in Photo #2 in 1979, from right to left:

  • 620 Good Hope (Meyer Supply Company) was Suedekum Hardware
  • 624 Good Hope – vacant
  • 624A Good Hope – vacant
  • 626 Good hope – vacant
  • 630 Good Hope – Unnerstall’s Drug Store. I think that’ll be the light-colored building with the white awning.
  • 632 Good Hope – Mary Dee Cafe
  • 632 Good Hope – vacant
  • 635 Good Hope – on corner of Sprigg (not shown) – Jo Donna Day Dance School (was Shade’s Clothing Store in the 60s)

If Fred is correct, the original picture was probably taken in one of the small shops between Meyer Supply Company and Unnerstall’s.

Does anyone else want to take a stab at it?

Haarig was once a vibrant community

Suedekum’s wasn’t just a hardware store. They set up some great toy train displays at Christmas time. I’ll never forget the year Dad brought home of of their displays. I still have the trains.

There was a bakery right around the corner east of the hardware store that had smells to die for. We would shop for clothes in Schade’s Clothing Store and get prescriptions filled at Unnerstall’s or Cape Cut Rate. One of my barbers was within a block on Sprigg and there was a grocery store nearby.

Farmer’s and Merchants Bank was on the other side of Sprigg and Dad had an office for his construction company upstairs for awhile. I can still remember walking into the bank with a handful small change to deposit in my savings account. (Later I was disappointed to find that my money got mixed in with everyone else’s money and I wouldn’t get the exact coins back.)

[Editor’s note: Fred’s photo blog in The Missourian is one of the most widely-read features in the paper. If you like my photos, you’ll appreciate the ones he comes up with.]