By Sue Moore
“I like being known as Mike the Barber,” says Mike Eberstein, as he deftly cuts Jerry Reitenour’s hair in his signature red and white barber shop on Grand Street in Schoolcraft.
“I’ve been cutting hair for 35 years and have seen it go from short, long, bald, shag, mullet, and even the military hair cut now called a fade,” he claims. The fad now is going to Meijer or other big shops for a haircut he laments. “My shop is a part of Americana that’s mostly gone by the wayside. It’s definitely a loss of community when people here don’t support their local businesses.” Eberstein comes from five generations of the Kline and Eberstein families who helped to settle the Schoolcraft prairie in the 1800s.
People used to sit on their front porches and talk to their neighbors. They used to shovel sidewalks for old folks. It takes work to keep a small town going with lots of community support, he continues. The old farmers are gone from Schoolcraft and now we have a bedroom community when some people drive right by the local business to get to the big box stores. That’s not right!
“Bud Mason in Vicksburg and I are about the only old style barbers left in business around these parts. I was glad to see that Bud recovered from his illness and is back cutting hair again,” Eberstein says. “Some of the young guys like to have the young ladies cut their hair and that’s ok. I have lots of repeat customers and even have a few guys who come in every day, just to sit and chat. They claim they are in adult day care with me.”
For many years, Eberstein held a Thursday night supper for members of the Schoolcraft football team before their Friday game in his small barber shop. Lots of the food was donated by local restaurants but he paid much of it out of his own pocket. Things changed a few years ago when a few of the players started having an attitude says Mike the Barber, so I stopped doing it. He still helps the kids through his affiliation with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and his own little non-profit enterprise called Downtime Ministry. He takes young and old people fishing and hunting as part of their education to the out of doors.
He has had many good experiences with the teams, one in particular stands out when it came to inadvertently painting his shop red and white, the colors of arch rival Constantine. He told the boys that they could repaint it purple and gold, the school colors if they beat Constantine that year. They did, but could never raise enough money to buy the paint so it has stayed the signature red and white.