October 1, 2014

Elyria
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68°F
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Man’s haircut a century in the making

David Hibben, 100, gets a free haircut from Pete DelMonico for his birthday at Delmonico's Barber Shop in Lorain on Aug. 8.   Steve Manheim

David Hibben, 100, gets a free haircut from Pete DelMonico for his birthday at Delmonico’s Barber Shop in Lorain on Aug. 8. Steve Manheim

LORAIN — David Hibben made the cut.

About a year ago, Hibben, who turned 100 on Thursday, was promised a free haircut by his barbers, Pete DelMonico and his son, Jeff DelMonico, of DelMonico’s Barber Shop, 4485 Oberlin Ave. The barber shop gives free haircuts to customers on their 100th birthday and Hibben was the first to make good on the centenarian freebie. “Dad says, ‘I want to live. At least to get that free haircut,’” said Hibben’s son, Dale Hibben.

The elder Hibben knows the value of money, having lived through the Great Depression. He also lived through World War I, the influenza pandemic of 1918-19 that killed 21.5 million people worldwide and World War II.

David Hibben grew up in McKeesport, Pa., before moving to Elyria around 1950 and settling in Lorain in 1966, according to Kent Hibben.

Kent Hibben said his father told him he hid his lunch while riding street cars to work during the Depression because he was embarrassed to be working when so many were jobless. World War II ended the Depression and Kent Hibben said his father’s job as a general foreman for U.S. Steel kept him out of the war.

After retiring in 1972, Hibben took road trips in his motor home with his wife Fran — she died in 2007 — and did woodworking. Hibben, who has two sons, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, made many clocks, mirrors, shelves and tables for friends and relatives.

Hibben, who has been getting haircuts at DelMonico’s since it relocated to Oberlin Avenue in 2002, drove until 2008 when he broke a hip. He now uses a wheelchair and has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which makes breathing difficult. Kent Hibben attributes the disease to years of his father breathing in chemicals at the steel plant and breathing in chemicals from woodworking.

Nonetheless, Kent Hibben said his father is relatively healthy for his age. He likes watching Cleveland Indians games and listening to music at Elmcroft of Lorain, the nursing home where he lives.

A party was held at Elmcroft after the haircut, and relatives will hold a party this weekend at Kent Hibben’s home in New Russia Township.

Long life runs in David Hibben’s family. His mother lived to 98 and his grandmothers lived to be 97 and 98.
“I think it’s genetics,” Hibben said about his long life.

Kent Hibben, 70, anticipates a long life and said he has a lot to look forward to. He’ll earn a free haircut June 7, 2043.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.


  • agent5959

    “Kent Hibben said his father told him he hid his lunch while riding street cars to work during the Depression because he was embarrassed to be working when so many were jobless.”

    I loved this article, and this part struck me… we’re going through a lot of similar things over the last few years (numbers-wise, though our safety net is much great these days, lessening the pain). This man had the fortune to stay employed during one of the nation’s biggest struggles and still had compassion for those who weren’t so lucky.

    I don’t think we’d see people with that level of humility today; it’s a sad statement on how callous we’ve become to the problems of our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate. So many of us today say “I’ve got mine, and I don’t want my tax money going to welfare,” when most of us are only a couple of paychecks away from those same tough decisions.

    Props to David Hibben, and a belated Happy Birthday. It’s great to see human interest stories mixed in with the bad stuff.

    • Pablo Jones

      I’m not really seeing the compassion. If he gave his food to those that were hungry I would say that was compassionate. But he hid it because he didn’t want them to see it. Would you say it was compassionate if a person saw a homeless person and they took off their jewelry and put their phone away so the homeless person wouldn’t see it?

      And as you said our safety net is much greater these days. To the point where people on welfare and food stamps have large flat screen TVs and cable. Who need help buying food for their babies but don’t need help for cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. If times were like the 1930s with people struggling to eat and survive I would have no doubt people would be willing to pay taxes so they can eat. But with the greatly improved benefits no one is starving if they don’t want to. And with the current waste people see you can’t blame them for not wanting to pay more.

      • agent5959

        During the Depression, even if you had a job, wage cuts were common and strikebreaking was violent, often involving the National Guard and deputizing of hundreds of local agents to break strikes by lethal force. A member of the working class could not afford to provide food and shelter for others because their wages were so meager (not to mention unstable).

        The compassion in this case stems from a desire to not flaunt wealth. Today, conspicuous consumption is our entire culture. We buy clothes with big logos to show we’re in style; $300 shoes so we can demonstrate how deeply we idolize millionaire athletes while people around us go hungry. For David, he had the humility to not flaunt his good fortune, and that’s what class looks like.

        By the way, when Florida tried to drug test residents seeking public assistance, the program cost them far more than it saved them, because drug use among those seeking assistance was far lower than the average among the wider population. Reagan introduced the myth of the welfare queen in her Cadillac and it remains a myth to this day.

        Public assistance gives people exactly how much they need to not fight back against a corrupt system. FDR realized the people were rising up and the New Deal wasn’t designed to help them, it was designed to placate them and keep capitalism flowing. The leaders know what they’re doing, and it’s not designed to benefit anyone in our social classes.

        • Pablo Jones

          I know there are plenty of honest people that struggle to get by on the assistance they receive. But there are plenty that know how to game the system (not just a few). I’ve seen where you have a single mother with several kids collecting benefits but lives with the dad that has a full time job and they have nice cars and the latest toys. Or the people on disability that seem to get around just fine and have the ability to purchase those expensive clothes with big logos. Until that waste gets brought under control it’s hard for people to support increased spending. An example, if you give your kid $10 to go into the store and buy milk and bread and you say he can buy 1 candy bar. Instead the kid comes out with 10 candy bars and no milk or bread. The next time do you give him $20 because you have to expect $10 of the money will be wasted? More money doesn’t fix the problem.

          I guess maybe you could use the word compassionate. It wouldn’t be my choice of wording. I don’t see the lack of doing something as compassionate. Maybe if he said I hid it because I didn’t want them to feel bad. But he said he hid it because he was embarrassed. I don’t see carrying a lunch as flaunting it. If he took a bite and threw the rest in the trash I would say that is flaunting it. If someone’s house burnt down would it be compassionate to not invite them to stay at your house because it would be flaunting the fact that your house didn’t burn down?

          But I agree the current social safety net is not designed to help people and improve their lives. It’s designed to keep them dependent, politicians’ job security.

  • Spec440

    Awesome story. Seems to me that anyone over 100 should get free haircuts for the rest of their lives. In fact, you make it to 100, EVERYTHING should be free.