From the Archive: Mrs. Phibbs Remembers

by Pat Walker, Research Assistant, Fort Collins Local History Archive

The Fort Collins Local History Archive has a large collection of oral histories taken in the early 1970s. Mrs. Phibbs Remembers is an ongoing series of excerpts taken from the interview with Alice and Sidney Phibbs, May 22, 1975.

Mrs. Phibbs Remembers – The Barber Shop

Alice Helene (Kirby) Phibbs, daughter of Katharine Philippi and John E. Kirby,was born on January 6, 1901. She married Sidney Terrance Phibbs in 1947.

“When my father was a young man he worked for Bert McCarty at his shop in the 100 block of Linden.…He was a barber all his life….and owned a shop facing west in the Northern Hotel….Lew Lyons came to work for him, and they just hit it off so well that eventually Lew bought into the shop as a partner.

“My father had what they considered a modern barbershop. He had running hot and cold water and bath facilities in it…. [The water] must have come from the town ditch and then been piped into the business buildings. 25¢ to take a bath; 15¢ for a shave and 25¢ for a haircut….He also had the first bootblack in town. If I remember correctly, it was one of Charlie Clay’s sons….It was probably 15¢ for blacking boots.”

Alice recalls how each barber had a chair and a mirror and around the mirror were little shelves just big enough to hold a customer’s mug.

“Every man that went in the barbershop had his own shaving mug….For a long time, my Mother had a one of the mugs from down there. It was white with brown lettering and it had some little fancy flowers on it.

“I know Dad furnished all the tools, you know, ‘cause he would buy ‘em from barber supply and I think he furnished the soap, no doubt, too….

“In those days women didn’t go into the barbershop unless it was absolutely necessary. Every time I came downtown I was allowed to go…in and get a nickel for candy.”

Seated: (L-R) John E. Kirby, Alice H. Philippi with grandson George Phillip Graham in lap, Christian Philippi with granddaughter Alice H. Kirby (later Phibbs) in lap, Mary (Philippi) Graham Standing: Katharine Kirby, George Graham

McCarty’s Barber Shop on left, Old Town Diner on right at 181 & 179 North College Avenue about 1996.


January 2010
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