Preserving our Past: The Barbershop

March 5, 2014

By Elynn Lee Bartz:

Very few old-fashioned barbers survive anywhere, but Whitefish Bay is lucky enough to have one of the best. Dave Haase may be found in the Henry Clay business district in a building constructed in 1937 at the south east corner of Hollywood and Henry Clay, of which he is the third owner. Dave calls his shop “Haase’s Hair Emporium” at 5168 North Hollywood Avenue.


Above: Dave Haase’s barber shop is located at the corner of Hollywood Avenue and Henry Clay.

Dave bought the building November 23, 1981, after eleven years at his previous location, 5321 North Port Washington Road. In 208, Dave made his move to Whitefish bay complete by purchasing a house near his barber shop on Hollywood.

Dave Haase has been barbering for 44 years. He raised four children and made many friends. His shop displays no fewer than seven framed documents of recognition – two from the State of Wisconsin, one from the Better Business Bureau, one from the Herald newspapers, and three more besides.

People come from far parts to get a Haase haircut. Recently when we were in his shop, there was a lady who came from Madison to have her young son’s hair cut by Dave. Earlier the summer we met a father and son in Dave’s shop getting the precisely perfect kosher haircut and beard trim. Dave is nothing if not versatile. His oldest customer, Bob Rumbler, is 99-1/2 years old. 

Above: Dave Haase poses out-side his barber shop.

Many customers stop by the shop between haircuts just to visit. Some even call on the phone from the hospital to inform Dave how their recovery is progressing. Every person who sits in his barber chair can expect Dave to remember every detail of the customer’s business and personal life, in addition to a superb haircut from a master barber. Haircuts at Dave’s are still only $15.00, and his chair is never empty.

Dave Haase never met a stranger. He is your easy friend from the moment you walk through his door. Dave Haase is a Whitefish Bay legend and a uniquely Whitefish Bay treasure.

Editor’s Note: I suppose the relationship that a man builds with his barber over time is somewhat similar to a woman’s relationship with her beautician or stylist. If the same person cuts your hair for many years, you get to know one-another.

I used to go to the Gentry Shop in Glendale, just north of Silver Spring Drive. When plans for Bayshore Towne Center resulted in demolishing their building, the barbers closed shop and all but Karen retired. She moved to Nick’s Barber Shop on Capitol Drive in Shorewood and has continued to cut my hair for many years. Karen grew up on North Hollywood Avenue just south of what is now Haase’s Hair Emporium. She relates that as a young child she used to hang out at the shop – much to her parent’s dismay who asked her, “Why do you want to hang out with those old guys?” I suspect it was an attraction to the good-natured banter that regularly goes on in a traditional barber shop.

Some barbers cut hair for home bound clients, taking care of their hair-care needs in the client’s homes – a service that I’m certain is well appreciated.  


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