One of my most unforgettable friends on Route 66 was a barber named Dale Holly.
Dale began cutting hair on Broadway Street (old Route 66) in Joplin, Missouri in the late 1950's and later moved into an original 1928 Phillips Petroleum filling station, again on old 66, in 1962. Dale had purchased the station on the corner of Utica and Euclid streets that included a small cottage and a cement slab that was once a cafe dating back to the early 1920's. The property at that time was known as The Shamrock Inn, and consisted of several cabins, a cafe and a large Tourist Camp where travelers either slept in their cars or in tents, and was situated in the Royal Heights subdivision....a place where many Joplin residents had "summer homes" in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Seems that Turkey Creek that flowed through the area kept it about ten degrees cooler in the summer months, and the Inter-Urban Electric Railroad (trollys) passed through on their way to Webb City and points East.
Dale found the old filling station sitting on Route 66 in the middle of a nice residential neighborhood to be appealing, and thus it was re-purposed as Dale's Ole' 66 Barbershop. In the Late 1970's, Dale doubled the size of the building, making it 20' by 20', and gradually improved the property over the next few decades until he retired in 2008, putting fifty years of cutting hair on the Mother Road behind him.
Dale, and his wife Shirley were living just up the street, and you could recognize his place thanks to the American flags on the fence and the Route 66 signs on his home. At work in the Barbershop, Dale always greeted and visited with travelers, many of whom were from distant shores. Dale watched the revival of Route 66 from his small barbershop every day beginning in the 1990's, and was hearing from folks from Japan, Germany, England and many other countries telling him they saw photos of his place in travel guides. Dale was quoted in the local newspaper as saying "It's really been exciting for me, especially since they started revitalizing Route 66. My only regret is that I haven't kept a visitor's log so I could look-back now at how far folks have come to see the landmark." (Dale's Barbershop received an official designation as a "Historic Joplin Landmark" several years ago.)
Dale Holly served his country in the Army during WWll and was always helping his community in one way or another. When several of his long-time clients could no longer drive to his Barbershop, Dale would drive to their homes to give them a haircut! Can you imagine having a barber that made "housecalls"? Dale was just the kind of person that Route 66 needed to help make the old road popular once again. He passed-away just as Spring became Summer last year...having served as a true Ambassador for the Mother Road, and he will be missed by those who will stop and learn of his passing.
The filling station and the cottage sit empty today as I write this, but know that Dale's wife Shirley has asked me to help find a new owner that would be willing to occupy and preserve the property in a way that continues to benefit the Mother Road and Dale's memory, which I have done. The original "Dale's Ole' 66 Barbershop" sign is back in place and his old barber pole and memorabilia were included in the purchase of the property. A website was donated by the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce that contains many photographs and documents at www.dalesold66.homestead.com . Anyone with questions may also contact me direct at 417-385-6966 in Joplin.
Ron Hart, Director - Route 66 Chamber of Commerce