CUBA CITY— Walking into Joanie’s Hair Repair on Cuba City’s Main Street is like strolling through history. Barber Joanie Von Glahn has a special place in her heart, and her business, for preserving local history.
She’s had a hand in the Cuba City State Bank clock being reinstated on Main Street this spring as well as the rehabilitation of a local painting in 2014.
“Joanie is always ready to help with anything that will improve Cuba City,” Cuba City Mayor Tom Gile said. “The clock project is the perfect example. It is so rewarding to see people volunteer and step forward to help get a project completed.”
Von Glahn was instrumental in fundraising for the restoration of a historical painting in 2013-14. Rich Udelhofen, who’s grandfather was depicted in the barbershop-themed scene, had the 4-foot by 8-foot painting stored frameless in his garage.
“I told him if he ever got it down, he should call me,” Von Glahn said. “And he did. I saw it and I kept bugging the family for it. They finally agreed and I did some research and found Tom McMann in Richland Center who restores paintings.”
The painting shows a scene of a barbershop in Cuba City, featuring barber Otto Udelhofen working on the hair of George Gierens while Emmett Byrne waits in a chair. The artwork was created in the 1940s and is signed by “Hoag,” an artist believed to be from Mineral Point. The painting is now displayed in Mound City Bank.
“After that was up in the bank and looking so sharp, that’s when questions about where is the clock and why isn’t the clock back up?,” Von Glahn said. “I asked Bob Schink about it and he said there was a glitch with the easement for it. I asked if anyone had asked about it lately and he said, ‘You’re just the girl to do that, Joanie.’ So, that’s how I got roped into that, but all I had to do was talk to people. Plus, I’m friends with the banker in Shullsburg and she knows all of the board members from that bank board. I just called them. The rest, everybody else did. There were a lot of people who worked on that. I didn’t do much work on it, I just got it going. If it would have been in storage for another year or two, it would have been destroyed for sure.”
Von Glahn, a Shullsburg native, has been a barber for the past 48 years.
“When I started, there were only three women in my class,” Von Glahn said. “It was not a popular thing for women to do at the time.”
She heard the slurs from customers, supposing she could manage the task like a man.
“Now we’re almost like dinosaurs, we’re almost extinct because there are hardly any barbers left,” Von Glahn said. “It doesn’t feel good to know that your profession is almost extinct. It’s sad, really. I never was interested in curling hair or coloring hair. I only wanted to cut hair, and that’s pretty much all I’ve ever done.”
She said she likes being around men and talking about sports, any sport.
From 1968 to 1972 Von Glahn worked for Frank Williams in Frank’s Barbershop in Platteville. In 1973-1982, she worked for her brother-in-law Skip Redfearn in what is now DooLittle’s kitchen in Cuba City before he sold the business. At that time, her children were young and she worked closer to home. From 1982-84 at Dell’s Barbershop in Shullsburg and also worked for John Side in Darlington. In September 1984, she leased her current location from Dave Kirk and a year later purchased the building, working there ever since.
“I’ve had good bosses over the years,” Von Glahn said.
Von Glahn said she takes pride in her sports memorabilia collection—mostly framed newspaper clippings of local teams—displayed in her shop. Some date back to the 1930s.
“People love it,” she said. “They read and read and read when they stop in.”
Many of the clippings were given to her, including the article that sparked the collection.
“In 1959, there was a severe storm and 60 Cuba City people ended up at my Aunt Rosanna’s house on their way home,” Von Glahn said. “A Mrs. Teasdale gave me the article with a picture of my Aunt Rosanna and her daughter Donna. I think that is what started it. Other people knew I had stuff. Gordy Robins gave me the big one of the 1949 state tournament team… I never got it up before he passed away; I kept putting off getting a frame. He never got to see it up on my wall and I feel bad about that.”
Now many of the frames are filled with multiple articles, with even more tucked away behind for a surprise when someone eventually takes the collection down. The walls are filled with framed stories and photos of the success of local athletes.
“How many towns this size have this many state tournament teams, and in almost every sport?,” Von Glahn said. “It really is unbelievable when you think about it, how a small town can have so many athletes.”
She said she isn’t quite sure what she’ll do with her collection after she retires, but she has plenty of time to think about that.
“Every day somebody asks me when I’m going to retire, and truthfully I do not know,” Von Glahn said. “When the time comes, I’ll know. But my customers are my friends. You learn about their grandkids and what they’re doing. I like my job, what can I say? I’ve been doing it for 48 years, I guess I’d better like it.”
Gile stressed his appreciation for Von Glahn’s appreciation of Cuba City’s history.
“Joanie believes she can make a difference and she most surely has,” Gile said. “No matter how small or large a project is, volunteers stepping forward to help makes all the difference.”
“Everybody should volunteer,” Von Glahn said. “You get more out of it than anybody. That’s what I think keeps people volunteering they feel good about it. I get a high from it, it makes me feel good.”
She said it’s especially rewarding when it comes to projects where you can see an end product.
“That portrait in the bank puts a smile on my face every time I go in there,” Von Glahn said. “It was almost destroyed and now it will live on forever if somebody takes care of it.”
She said she hopes Cuba City will grow and become a “little Galena” with the antique stores and little shops that bring people to town.
“I see more people mingling around town already,” Von Glahn said.
She and her husband, Willy, have two children: Hans and Audra with their son, Max; and Heidi and Rich Grossen with their sons, Von and Cormac.
Editor's Note: This column will be a special addition to the Tri-County Press on a monthly basis. Look for each installment near the end of the month. All volunteers are recomended for the article by Mayor Tom Gile. If you have ideas for future volunteers in the community to be recognized, contact Gile at 608-744-3203.