At 90 Mike Gauss Recalled 'Good Old Days'


By dhowell - Posted on 03 January 2008

On September 2, 1965, the late Michael Guass, recalled some of his younger days in Manchester. It was Mike's 90th birthday.

He was born in Freedom Township, September 1, 1875, and his father, Michael, died when he was only a year old.

His first job was working on the Hank Rushton farm and this brought him $16 a month.

At that time Jake Briegel operated a barbershop in the "Old Hotel" where the Grossman-Huber Station is located on West Main and Clinton. Jake encouraged young Mike to become a barber.

Finally Gauss became his apprentice and worked for him for a year. At the end of that time he went to Detroit for his test which was cutting one man's hair and shaving him. "Later my license was sent to me from Lansing-that was all there was to it," Mr. Gauss said.

"In those days the fee was 25 cents for a hair cut and 10 cents for a shave. The work day began at 7 a.m. Of course we were open every Wednesday and Saturday night until midnight or even one o'clock," he recalled. The aged barber mentioned that no one had heard of a 40-hour week and pointed out that in his business they couldn't have made a living in 40 hours.

Back when he was busiest in the trade he received $2 a day while working for Briegel.

In the old days every regular customer had his own shaving mug and brush and the barber kept them on a shelf in the shop. Besides the oil lamp at night, and that is when most of the farmers had their hair cut, there was the problem of water supply for the shaving.

Soft water was the most effective and merchants along the street let the barbers use their cistern water.

They would haul the water up in a pail with a rope and carry it over to the shop where it was poured into a big tank to which a pipe was attached. In a way they had "running water in the shop." There was a spigot and it could be turned off and on and heated over a gasoline burner or, in the wintertime, in a kettle on the pot bellied stove.

Those were the days when people congregated in the morning at the barbershop to read the newspaper and a spicy magazine called "Police Gazette."