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Brock: Johnney the barber was a cut above

I always tell reporters that when folks read their stories, they are really looking for the answer to the question "How does this affect me?" Sunday morning's front-page story about my barber, Johnney Elsbernd, left me wondering the same thing --...

I always tell reporters that when folks read their stories, they are really looking for the answer to the question “How does this affect me?” Sunday morning’s front-page story about my barber, Johnney Elsbernd, left me wondering the same thing - not to mention how his mug on the front page was going to hurt Sunday newspaper sales?
My profession has required me to move numerous times and has left me looking for a new barber, but never have I had a barber leave me. I assume it wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision and you would think he could have let me know. I would have given him one last chance to cut my hair and, heck, I might have even tipped him. It’s not like I’m in the business of telling folks’ secrets.Johnney wasn’t a bad barber and had a chance to be really good if he had hung on for a few more years. But, I guess, according to the story, 45 years was enough and, truth be told, in my case he didn’t have much to work with. Fortunately for me, his partner, Jeremy Skaley, has taken over so I don’t need new directions to get a trim.When I walked into the Queen City Barber Shop for the first time eight years ago and saw Walter Payton’s image on the wall, I figured this could be the place. There were stuffed animals on the wall, good sports magazines and, of course, a copy of The Dickinson Press on the table. The one thing you want from your barbershop is to feel comfortable and the Queen City Barber Shop fit the bill. The fact that Johnney was a Chicago Bears fan was icing on the cake. The barbershop was a real down-to-earth barbershop, where you couldn’t help but feel at home thanks to Johnney, Jeremy and their customers.Barbers spend their days, as he said in our story, “shooting the bull.” I’m sure you meet all types and hear all different opinions from those sitting in the chair and that, to me, could be tiresome. I mean, there were even Green Bay Packer fans who he gave haircuts. Still, there are few places where world problems are more commonly solved without the help of alcohol than a barbershop. You would think folks who were looking for the proper way to run a government could tap into that knowledge.On the wall of the Queen City Barber Shop is “About Barbers,” which Mark Twain wrote in “Sketches New and Old.”All things change except barbers, the ways of barbers and the surroundings of barbers. These never change. Except when they retire, I guess? Good luck Johnney. You will be missed. I hope you enjoy your retirement, and please leave a few fish for the rest of us working stiffs to catch. Brock is the publisher of The Press. Contact him at 701-456-1201 or hbrock@thedickinsonpress.com.I always tell reporters that when folks read their stories, they are really looking for the answer to the question “How does this affect me?” Sunday morning’s front-page story about my barber, Johnney Elsbernd, left me wondering the same thing - not to mention how his mug on the front page was going to hurt Sunday newspaper sales?
My profession has required me to move numerous times and has left me looking for a new barber, but never have I had a barber leave me. I assume it wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision and you would think he could have let me know. I would have given him one last chance to cut my hair and, heck, I might have even tipped him. It’s not like I’m in the business of telling folks’ secrets.Johnney wasn’t a bad barber and had a chance to be really good if he had hung on for a few more years. But, I guess, according to the story, 45 years was enough and, truth be told, in my case he didn’t have much to work with. Fortunately for me, his partner, Jeremy Skaley, has taken over so I don’t need new directions to get a trim.When I walked into the Queen City Barber Shop for the first time eight years ago and saw Walter Payton’s image on the wall, I figured this could be the place. There were stuffed animals on the wall, good sports magazines and, of course, a copy of The Dickinson Press on the table. The one thing you want from your barbershop is to feel comfortable and the Queen City Barber Shop fit the bill. The fact that Johnney was a Chicago Bears fan was icing on the cake. The barbershop was a real down-to-earth barbershop, where you couldn’t help but feel at home thanks to Johnney, Jeremy and their customers.Barbers spend their days, as he said in our story, “shooting the bull.” I’m sure you meet all types and hear all different opinions from those sitting in the chair and that, to me, could be tiresome. I mean, there were even Green Bay Packer fans who he gave haircuts. Still, there are few places where world problems are more commonly solved without the help of alcohol than a barbershop. You would think folks who were looking for the proper way to run a government could tap into that knowledge.On the wall of the Queen City Barber Shop is “About Barbers,” which Mark Twain wrote in “Sketches New and Old.”All things change except barbers, the ways of barbers and the surroundings of barbers. These never change. Except when they retire, I guess? Good luck Johnney. You will be missed. I hope you enjoy your retirement, and please leave a few fish for the rest of us working stiffs to catch. Brock is the publisher of The Press. Contact him at 701-456-1201 or hbrock@thedickinsonpress.com.

Opinion by Harvey Brock
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