John M. Kitner came to Illinois from Perry County, Pennsylvania in 1910. He worked as a hired hand on farms owned by Frank Greeley and Del Fuller. After reading an advertisement in a newspaper, John decided he would like to become a barber. He rode the train to Chicago and attended Moler Barber College in the winters of 1910 and 1911. After obtaining his barber license and working out his apprenticeship, he purchased the shop of Sherman Bailey for $150.00. The first shop was located about where the community building is now (170 West. Lincoln Highway). In November 1914, that entire block of the village burned. His second shop was on Cedar Street. In 1922, he purchased the two Bradburry Buildings on Main Street. In 1926, he moved his shop to Main Street and remained there until his death on September 5, 1973. He was 86 years old and had barbered for 61 years.


            John served many fourth generation families and even a fifth generation. Haircuts were .25, then .50 and finally $1.00. Children's price was never more than .50 . A shave was .15, then .25 . During World War I, there were nearly as many women getting their "shingle-cut" haircuts as men. In 1962, there were four Waterman women still getting their hair cut from John. For many men, John was the only barber to cut their hair. On Wednesday and Saturday nights, John was so busy that each man had to take a number for his turn for a haircut. This way the patron could go elsewhere and still not lose his turn for the barber chair. If a father came with several children for haircuts, quite often John would ask the family to wait. John would do the family later at night but only for a very reduced price. John was known to work until midnight or one o'clock and occasionally until two o'clock in the morning. On Sunday mornings he would walk to the East Side Hospital and shave or cut hair for six to ten patients. On Wednesday he would shave only. (Remember no electric shavers then.)


            Neighboring communities patronized John and so did salesmen traveling through Waterman. In an Eastern city, salesmen were discussing the price of haircuts. One man mentioned a low price but another topped that by just having had his hair cut in Waterman for .50 . Engineers and brakemen would get their haircut whenever their train was sidetracked. John had many long lasting railroad friends. Sarah Mendez in her book Wigwams To Moon Footprints, said John has helped more people, heard more "sob" stories, cut more hair, seen more bald heads, and earned himself more friends than almost any other barber in the state. Sheila Woods wrote in the local paper in November 30, 1972, "It's unusual for a man to stay in the same town for sixty years, but to stay in the same business in the same town for 60 years is even rarer."


If you have a favorite story about John, we would appreciate knowing of it.