William  H.  Coers

The  Shelbyville  Republican
Monday September 22, 1947
Page 4  column 3
By Ave Lewis
            Two glasses of hot water before a light breakfast, plenty of good food at noon and another light meal in the evening is a "good health prescription" advocated by William H. (Bill) Coers, Shelbyville’s business man who hasn’t needed the services of a physician for 63 years.
            White-haired and jovial-faced Mr. Coers, who has seen a lot of "human nature" stroll past his barber shop just off the Public Square on South Harrison Street, says too, that he gets to bed by 10:00 o’clock each night and doesn’t drink or smoke.  Not that he’s radically opposed to the two habits but he’s a firm believer in the theory that the stomach is the "engine" of the body and he’s taking no chances that his particular "engine" gets out of tune.
            Mr. Coers got acquainted with a barber shop when just a little shaver-no pun intended.  He began at the age of 10 years by shining shoes in a shop operated by  Henry Friday  in the corner of the Square where the Woolworth store is now.  It wasn’t long until he "graduated".  He was too small to reach the customers but Mr. Friday built a platform for him and he’d lather the men’s faces in preparation for a shave.  Once the barber was finished, back he’d hop to wash faces and to give coat collars that final brush off.
            After adding a few years and several feet in stature he went to work for  Charles Switzer  and  Frank Yarling  in a shop where the Goodman Store now stands.  He says that  Peanut Alec, whom a lot of local people may remember, had his stand right next door on the corner.  Many is the sack of peanuts he bought from Alec and many is the handful "snitched" with the old colored man’s consent.
            His next move was made 53 years ago this October to his present location.  He’s been in the building all that time with the exception of about two years-one year in a small room on East Broadway and the other in a shop in the present Mary Lou Store location.  He and the late  Tom Farr  went into business together and bought their equipment in Chicago.  The wall fixtures, incidentally, are the same ones used today, but with some of ornate scroll work and such removed and given coats of white paint.  However, in place of the five wall lavoratories, there used to a huge basin in the center of the room.  Some time after the shop was opened Mr. Coers bought Mr. Farr’s interest and he’s been on his own since then.  And he’s always opened the shop in the mornings and has never been "late to work."  For some time he and others owned the building and other property in the block but not long ago sold to  John Sigler  and he now leases the shop.
            The place used to open for business at 6:00 a.m. and he and his workers stayed until around 8:00 p.m. Some Saturday nights saw them still on the job long after midnight.  But now 8:00 a.m. is the opening hour and 6:00 p.m. is the closing time.  On Saturday nights he remains open until 9:00 o’clock.
            While most people take advantage of the Wednesday afternoon closing hours, Mr. Coers goes to the Major Hospital to shave and cut hair of the patients.  He also works at the hospital on Sunday mornings when needed.  While he’s heard every sort of rumor and all sorts of talk during his years of experience with the public he says there isn’t the "gossiping" in barber shops that’s supposed to go on in women’s beauty salons.  He believes people are getting away from "airing their troubles."
            Mr. Coers is 74 years old.  He was born in Shelbyville and is married to the former  Edna Harrell.  They gave their first son her family name, "Harrell," and he now lives in Portland and has been affiliated wit the International Harvester Company for 15 years.  Their daughter, Vivian Rowe, is employed in the local welfare office and  Tom, the youngest, is an Indianapolis resident and recently went into partnership in a drug store in the capital city.
            Mr. Coers’ favorite recreation is fishing but he says the "big ones" always get away.
Contributed by Barb Huff

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