Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 3, 1995)
Duane Butler cuts Nels Rrttenburg’s hair. Rittenburg has been a frequent customer of Butler for years.
may come to end
By Paula Lavigne
The red-and-white-striped barbershop pole at the entrance
to the Butler Barber Shop marks a page in history, a time
when haircuts were 25 cents and the entertainment was free.
For 100 years, the Butler family has been a part of numer
ous pages of history from the comer of 48th and St. Paul
streets in Lincoln’s historic University Place.
Three generations of Butlers have held the scissors. A neon
sign in the front window, a modern contrast to the shop’s
antiquity, marks the era of the latest Butler, Duane.
Duane spent much of his childhood at the comer barber
shop but didn’t intend to become a barber. He began doing
drafting work but got laid off — and a better opportunity.
“I started barber school,” he says. “I liked it. I stayed, and
45 years later I’m still here.”
One of Duane’s customers, Tolliver Delbert, chuckles.
“If he kept up that much time as a senator in Congress,
he’d be worth millions,” he says, laughing.
Most ot Duane s customers are regulars, and some have
been coming to Butler’s since Duane’s father ran the shop.
The conversation between Duane and his customers turns
to local politics and golf. Not much has changed there.
But the changes in the popularity of television and radio
reflect chpges the shop has seen since its early days.
“We didn’t have O.J. Simpson then,” Duane says. “There
was more talk on the local level back then.”
Years ago, the barbershop used to be the city’s hub of
“On a Saturday night, men would come into the barbershop
to get their hair cut before they went out,” he says, “and some
would bring guitars and others would start singing.
“There was this one fellow with a booming bass voice.
They’d get his ear, and they’d go from there. We used to have
the original barbershop quartets.”
Duane’s customers now listen to big-band music.
Those customers soon may have to change their tune and
find another barber. A “For Sale” sign sits in the window,
signaling the last generation of the Butler Barber Shop.
Duane says he is ready to retire, and his son Rex, who
graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a
degree in mechanical engineering, isn’t taking over the
business. Duane says he isn’t upset, as he has many hobbies to
keep him busy.
Customers tried to talk him out of it, but Duane stood firm.
“They’ve either retired or died,” he said, chuckling. “I just
haven’t died yet, that’s all.”
The Butler family has cleaned hair off the floor 100 years.
“On a Saturday
night, men would
come into the barber
shop to get their hair
cut before they went
out, and some would
bring guitars and
others would start
Barber shop owner
Butler bicycles to and from work nearly
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