BARBER: Local hair cutter gains celebrity status
After 50 years cutting hair in the same shop at 6 W. Kansas St. in Liberty, Harvey Seely could run for mayor and win. Hands down. “He would win anything he ran at,” said Jill (Logan) Havenhill, who had her first haircut in Harvey’s chair.
“Maybe that would be because people know him, but it’s also what they know about him. I wish he’d run for president.” Relax, mayor: Harvey’s content to cut hair three days a week, thrilled to be married to Susi and glad to serve as the city’s constable for $2 a year.
What exactly does a constable do? “Go down and get sworn in every two years and get my two dollars,” said Harvey, who’s 70. “I’m in it for the money.” Harvey’s been Liberty’s constable nine terms, which translates to 18 years. “I got into the profession because back then haircuts were a dollar. I’d see other professions making 50 to 60 dollars a week, so I figured if I could do 60 haircuts a week, I’d be in tall cotton.”
“I graduated high school (Liberty High School class of 1952) on a Friday and started barber school on a Monday,” he said.
Harvey spent two years cutting hair in Claycomo. In 1954, Harvey took a job working for Paul Mitchell at the same shop he now owns. His reign as King of Barbers began in 1971 — the year he bought the shop from then-owner Riley Dill. Harvey chose barbering over operating heavy equipment, his father’s profession, and never regretted it. “I’ve never ever dreaded going to work,” he said. “There are nice days, when you’d rather be somewhere else, but I’ve never dreaded going to work.”
Longevity is in vogue at Harvey’s. Susi has cut hair there 27 years, and associates Rob Rose and Theresa Durocher have been with the Seelys 17 and 13 years, respectively. Haircuts cost $1 when Harvey started. They’re $13 now. A lot’s changed, but Harvey is known as a constant in a changing world. “Not a lot of changes in my life,” he said, sitting in the living room of a home he bought 56 years ago. “Same house, same wife,” he concluded, shrugging his shoulders. Harvey knew Susi as a child. Through a few fortunate coincidences, they were reacquainted in September 1975 and went to Stephenson’s restaurant on their first date. Three weeks later, Susi (the former Eleanor Sue Holt, a 1960 Liberty grad) moved back to Liberty. She and Harvey have been married 29 years, and they still go to Stephenson’s for their anniversary.
“She’s a real blessing to me,” Harvey said. “She’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Our minister said you’ll do your husband wrong, you’ll do your wife wrong, but you’ll never do your best friend wrong. She’s my best friend.”
Loyalty and tradition are also reflected in Harvey’s customers. Havenhill is 30 and has never had her hair cut anywhere else. Her grandfather, father, four brothers, nieces and nephews have all sat in Harvey’s chair. As a child, she pronounced Harvey“Herbie.” It stuck, and she still refers to him that way, even on invitations to her high-school and college graduations and wedding. “I had four older brothers, and I tagged along all the time, and he gave me my first haircut,” she said. “No one believes this, but I’ve never trusted anyone else to cut my hair. “Now it’s almost an honor to have your hair cut by Harvey,” she said. “He is a legend.”
SATURDAY, OCT. 23, 2004 LIBERTY TRIBUNE