Lenny Stracke sat in one of the remaining chairs inside Downtown Barbers and Stylists for likely the last time on Saturday, Oct. 13.
His grandchildren crowded around him for a photo while his wife, Ellen, and children, Nick Stracke and Stacey Massey, along with her husband Aaron, looked on.
The group had gathered to clean out Downtown Barbers and Stylists after the business recently closed.
“I just decided with my health the way it is right now, it was time to quit I guess. Not really ready to quit, but I’m going to,” Lenny Stracke said. “It’s going to be different, that’s for sure.”
He opened the shop in 1975 after buying it from Tommy Sherman. Lenny Stracke moved to Perry in 1971 after attending barber school.
Lenny Stracke, originally from Westphalia near Harlan, decided to go to barber school as he didn’t want to farm. At the time, he said barber school was only a nine-month program.
He then moved to Perry and started working for Clark Dorman in his barber shop on Willis Avenue. Lenny Stracke worked for Dorman for 3 ½ years before buying Sherman’s shop, located at 1222 2nd St.
He offered everything from haircuts to straight-edge shaves to colors and perms. And served a lot of customers over the years as well.
“It’s been a good place to raise a family and make a lot of good friends and a lot of loyal customers,” Lenny Stracke said.
Stacey Massey remembers coming down to the shop everyday after school to help clean.
“I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t down here,” she said. “My friends and I would come down to hang out with dad, he would cut their hair and color their hair.”
Nick Stracke added that he would help his dad take the money down to the bank. He would then go over to Ben’s for candy. His dad also helped get him his first job vacuuming a number of shops downtown.
His friends would also get their hair cut by Lenny Stracke, as would Nick. Lenny Stracke’s grandchildren also had their first haircut at his shop.
“Me, I never had a haircut anywhere else but here pretty much. Chase only gets a haircut here too,” Nick Stracke said of his son.
That will change as Lenny Stracke closed the doors after 43 years in Perry.
“I would really like to tell the community thank you for all the years of support,” Lenny Stracke said.
He added that he will miss the people he served the most.
“I just appreciate all the business over the years,” Lenny Stracke said.