Cahoy retires, closes barbershop after 58 yearsDon Cahoy, 82, has been cutting hair in Hudson for 58 years, but decided that his career would end Wednesday, Nov. 26. He retired at the end of the day and locked the door to his shop in the McSorley Building, 529 Second St.
By: Doug Stohlberg, Hudson Star-Observer
Don Cahoy, 82, has been cutting hair in Hudson for 58 years, but decided that his career would end Wednesday, Nov. 26. He retired at the end of the day and locked the door to his shop in the McSorley Building, 529 Second St.
“I’ve been thinking about retiring,” Cahoy said. “At first I thought I might do it at the end of the year, but decided the end of November was enough.”
Although Cahoy would not talk about it, there have been rumors that the building in which his shop is located is for sale or has been sold. Cahoy had a month-to-month lease at the property.
“I have no special plans for retirement,” Cahoy said. “I’ll just keep doing what I do.”
In recent years, the shop has been open only four days each week from 9 a.m. to noon.
“I used to work 12 hours a day. For about the last 10 years I’ve been working 12 hours a week,” Cahoy said.
He has enjoyed his career choice.
“It’s been great. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and I’ve had faithful customers over the years.”
When Cahoy came to Hudson in 1950 he probably never suspected that he’d be cutting hair in the community 58 years later. Making it more remarkable is the fact that Cahoy’s business survived during a time when there were big changes in the hair care industry.
Cahoy always operated the old-fashioned type of barbershop where no appointment was necessary. Anyone could walk in during business hours and usually have a haircut within a matter of minutes.
“I feel bad that the old-fashioned barbershop is disappearing,” Cahoy said. “Over the years the barbershop has been a gathering place for men.
It’s a sociable place offering men a comfortable spot and a feeling of camaraderie.”
Cahoy grew up in Burke, S.D., and came to Hudson in April 1950. He spent two years in the Army Air Corps from 1944 to 1946. He married his wife, Edna, in 1946 and found his way to barber school in 1949. In September 1949 he began a three-year apprenticeship in River Falls, working for Mike Demming. He completed that apprenticeship in Hudson under local barber Sherm Olson (1916-1998).
Cahoy earned his barber license in 1953 and bought out Olson, who tried a brief stint selling cars. As it turned out, however, Olson came back into the barber business and the two were competitors for a number of years. They remained good friends, however, and in 1979, Olson came back and worked for Cahoy until Olson’s retirement.
Cahoy said there were at least five barbers in town when he first came to Hudson.
“There was Sherm (Olson), Norman “Puna” Lee, Melvin Lee, Bill Kottke and myself,” Cahoy said.
For much of Cahoy’s career, his shop was located at 525 Second St., the current site of St. Croix Cigar Co. Cahoy sold that building in 1992 and moved to his current location. His son-in law Dave Wickert worked in the business from 1982 to 1987. Wickert left the barbering business and moved to Green Bay to accept a teaching position.
“I’ve had a good life,” Cahoy said. “The barbering business isn’t terribly exciting, but I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and I’ve had faithful customers over the years.
One of the changes that he’s seen over the years is the elimination of the shaving business in the barbershop.
“When I started, many customers wanted a haircut and a shave,” Cahoy said.
The concept did, however, inspire his collection of straightedge razors — Cahoy has over 140 of them dating back 100-plus years.
Cahoy and his wife, Edna, have four children, Dave, Tom, Carolyn and Mary — all Hudson High School graduates.