After more than a half-century, Cascade barber hangs up shears

CASCADE, Iowa — After 51 years of operating Terry’s Barbershop in downtown Cascade, Terry Frasher has put down his shears.

“I couldn’t have done it without the support of my community,” he said. “It’s not just customers — it’s the friendships that develop over the years, and I’m going to miss that tremendously.”

Frasher quickly pursued the career by enrolling in barber school after graduating from high school.

“I was a senior in high school, I had a friend who was a barber, and it looked like it would be a pretty nice profession to get into,” he recalled. “So I signed up for barber school in Cedar Rapids in July of 1965. At the time, it was a nine-month schooling, and when you graduated, it was a year and a half of apprenticeship, where you worked under another barber somewhere before you could start your own shop.

“When I got done with barber school, I went to work for a gentleman in Monticello where I spent my apprenticeship. Then, I ended up going into the service with the U.S. Navy, served a year in Vietnam, got out early and then I opened the Cascade shop in February of 1969.”

Even while in the Navy, Frasher continued his practice as a barber — a practice made easier by the fact that the soldiers around him were not required to have crew cuts.

“I was on a ship, but we never went to sea,” said Frasher. “We were down in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, so that’s where I spent my time as a barber on the ship. They didn’t really have a lot of problems with haircuts over in Vietnam. They let you go long a little bit. We had the Ninth Infantry Division on board, which would be Army, and they would come in after their patrols to get cleaned up, haircuts, showers and that kind of stuff. We didn’t give any butches.”

After getting out of the military, Frasher was ready to open his shop in Cascade. According to him, it was tough getting started due to low rates and established competition.

“It was a tough go,” he said. “I was starting brand new, and there were two other shops in Cascade, one with two barbers and the other with one. I don’t remember what the price was when I started in Cascade, but it was pretty minimal.

“So I started here and ended up going to Bernard and cutting hair down there close to 20 years as well. I’d go down there at night and one afternoon a week, plus the shop in Cascade, so it was tough getting going.”

Business wasn’t helped by the Beatles craze, which historically put many American barbers out of work during its run.

“Things started to improve when the long hair went out,” Frasher said. “It had started going downhill when the Beatles came to town. Iowa lost a lot of barbers at that time. There wasn’t enough business to keep them going. It was mostly the younger kids who had long hair — the adults didn’t.”

While he is retiring, Frasher intends to stay active with his family and community.

“I’m not going to sit down,” he said. “I’m still planning on going to the nursing home and cutting hair up there. I like to golf. I like to take my grandkids fishing, yardwork, maybe volunteering my time at different things. I like visiting with people and being outdoors.”

Frasher wanted to thank his customers, friends and everyone who has been with him throughout his barbershop career.

“I’d just like to thank the communities of the Cascade and Bernard area and the surrounding communities,” he said. “I have customers from all over. It’s been a tremendous career, and I’m very lucky that I got to do something I love to do for 55 years.”