Oil boom draws barber to western NDKILLDEER, N.D. (AP) — A Mormon woman from Utah was cutting the hair of an Amish man from Wisconsin when a woman with an Australian accent called for an appointment.
By: By Lauren Donovan, Bismarck Tribune, The Jamestown Sun
KILLDEER, N.D. (AP) — A Mormon woman from Utah was cutting the hair of an Amish man from Wisconsin when a woman with an Australian accent called for an appointment.
This actually happened Tuesday in Killdeer, making the town seem more like the crossroads of the universe than a formerly sleepy one on the western edge of North Dakota.
These are some amazing times in the oil zone. People are piling in from all over the country and to some extent the world to take part in one of the biggest industrial plays on the planet right now.
For some who've come to this melting pot heated by oil, it all comes down to getting their hair cut.
Until Kasha Lee opened shop a few weeks ago, something as basic as a quick trim was hard to come by in Killdeer, a town populated by any number of male truck drivers, construction workers and rig roughnecks.
The only fulltime stylist quit about a year ago and one in the commercial area is only open two days a week. And for some guys, there's nothing like a barber, where's it's all about the cut and maybe a shave without chatty women with heads full of chemicals and foil wraps sitting under the dryer.
Guys like Harold Keim, 23, who moved from an Amish community in Wisconsin five years ago, said until Lee moved in either his wife cut his short, black hair or he traveled a half-hour to Dickinson, working it in with other errands.
“I just live up the street,” Keim said Tuesday. “Now, I don't have to go to Dickinson.” Keim talked while waiting his turn for a cut Lee calls the “High and Tight,” which looked neat and handsome when she finished with clippers and comb. There's also a cut called the “Guilty,” for which she collects the going $16 for a cut that supposedly makes her feel guilty for taking so little off.
Afterward, she patted soothing aftershave where she'd run a straight edge razor over Keim's sideburns and back of his neck.
“The ladies in town have been saying the men look good and smell great,” Lee said.
For the guys, well, most of them fall asleep while she's trimming and buzzing.
“They can just stop and relax,” she said.
She keeps evening hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays and has room for semi truck parking out front of her business location on the south end of Killdeer's main street.
Lee herself moved to the Killdeer on the same tide of oil workers washing in from all over creation.
She said her husband, Larry Lee, moved from Utah a year ago to drive for Black Hills Trucking, returning to see her about every four to five weeks.
“It got old. Then, he called and said, ‘Why don't you start a shop out here?’ ” Lee said.
It seemed like it was meant to be when someone came in willing to buy her “My Barber” shop in Kaysville, Utah.
“There was no doubt about it,” Lee said.
She arrived in Killdeer in May and one of her first stops was at the city hall in Killdeer, where auditor Dawn Marquardt said city folks were able to answer a few inquiries about likely locations.
Lee ended up in the front of a red Quonset-style building south of Bender Chevrolet. In mid-July, she opened her clean shop with new furniture and an authentic 1800s’ era barber chair — quite a fragrant contrast to the garage in the back end.
She's had some female clients and kids, too.
“I'll do walk-ins, or appointments, whatever works for people,” she said. For guys, who can jump out of a semi and get cleaned up before heading back home for a few days, it works just fine.
Glen Niebaum, of Oklahoma, had Lee touch up his buzz cut Tuesday, too. He's working at the Lake Ilo National Wildlife Refuge east of Killdeer for the summer and said the short look was his way of officially growing up after wearing shoulder-length hair until he graduated from college.
“It's my first time here, but it works for me,” he said.
Marquardt said the shop is great for the many people coming through town.
“It”s really nice to have her, really nice," Marquardt said.
Killdeer recently agreed to sell acreage and make some infrastructure improvements for Cobblestone Inn and Suites, which plans to start construction on a 64-bed hotel on Highway 22 near Cenex.
What's still missing is a quick-stop shop with fresh breakfast and lunch sandwiches, soup, coffee and coffee. “There's such a huge demand for something like that, where people can get in and get out,” Marquardt said.
At least with Lee in town, one niche is filled.
“We're filling the void,” Lee said. “It's fun being here in the boom, such a variety of people. I just love serving them and have them leave feeling good,” she said.
Keim felt so good about his cut, he was at the door before he realized he'd forgotten to grab the baseball cap he wore coming in.