Leora, the Family Barber

Leora Goff became her brothers’ barber because they didn’t want their father clipping their hair too short. With seven brothers, it was a good thing they didn’t all want haircuts the same day. I didn’t find any photos of Leora’s brothers without their caps.

During the Great Depression, young Darlene Wilson babysat for Zedonna and M.M. Neal, watching their three sons–Rawson, Jimmie, and Richard. Zedonna would send them down to Leora for their haircuts, usually on weekends, when she was especially busy. But Zedonna Neal was a teacher, so it was welcome income for Leora.

On of the only few photos of Clabe Wilson without a hat or cap. July 22, 1934, Dexter

Leora also barbered for her husband Clabe and her own children. After the older two were in the Navy, she remarked in one letter that Clabe wanted a haircut, that he thought it was too long, although she didn’t think it was.

1929. During the school year, cousins Maxine and Merrill lived in the big Goff house. Merrill was in Danny’s class in school and Maxine was the same age as Darlene, so they spent a lot of time together. 

One day Maxine came wailing  to the Wilsons’ kitchen door. “What’s wrong, Maxine?” Leora could see that her niece had mighty short hair. 

“Grandpa chopped off all my hair!” Maxine swiped at her tears. “I hate it!” 

“Well, it looks like he gave you a boybob. It’s the new thing, Maxine. I’ll bet Darlene would like her hair cut the same new way, wouldn’t you, Darlene?”

“Yes, then we can be alike.” 

“Maxine, let me even yours up a bit first.” Leora gathered up her scissors and comb, took a chair to the backyard, and set to work. Two nine-year-old girls were soon showing off their twin boybobs.

Wilson and Goff cousins: Danny Wilson, Merrill (I’ll bet his Grandpa Sherd clipped his hair) and Maxine Goff, Delbert (behind) and Doris Wilson with baby cousin, Connie Goff. Junior, Donald, Darlene, and Dale Wilson. Look at all the haircuts Leora was in charge of, plus the three Neal boys! 

Remember the time when Clabe became Leora’s barber?

Stories from Leora’s Early Years: Guthrie County Roots and Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression




  1. Daddy used to give us boys a crew cut as soon as school was out in the beginning of summer. By the start of the next school year, it would be grown back out to a “respectable” length. A crew cut ensured that he would leave no ugly “gaps.” My wife has cut my hair for decades, saving us a lot of money. It’s interesting that during the Depression, in almost every photo you see, all men and boys are wearing hats/caps.

    • And they took those hats and caps off when inside. But no flash bulbs then, so no photos. My mother cut my dad’s hair until that one time. (I bet you remember the story of the “reverse Mohawk”!

    • Thank you, Linda. I sure wouldn’t try it. When I first encountered the photo, I was trying to identify the baby. I didn’t look at the haircuts at all. But after I learned of the haircut story, I realized I even had the illustration for it! Then to have cousin Merrill with his head sporting a “Grandpa Sherd shave” was a bonus.

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