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Shop's second chair served

For the first time in over 30 years, Cal Butts has been joined by another barber in his Ellsworth shop.

Angela Weiss began cutting hair last month from behind the chair that's long stood empty next to one normally staffed by the shop owner. Weiss spends Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday mornings locally, and three other days each week at a shop in Stillwater, Minn.

"There were a lot of barbers in my family," she said Thursday about how she decided on her career, listing her Aunt Audrey and late Uncle Ron, who've practiced the trade in Durand, their son Corey, in Eau Claire, and another Uncle Dale, in Chippewa Falls, besides a friend, Kelly, a cosmetologist in Eau Claire.

The Durand High School graduate considered art her favorite subject in school, enjoying "anything creative," she said. After graduation, she spent three-and-a-half years living in Japan, then returned to the U.S., specifically Oklahoma. In that state, she began schooling that would lead to her becoming a barber.

"I didn't know if I'd even like it at first," she said.

Weiss soon came back to this vicinity, completing her training at a school in Hastings, Minn., she said. There, she learned hair cut technologies, coloring, giving perms and more in a one-year program. The place was open to the public; customers could get an inexpensive cut from one of the students, but a single session often lasted up to one-and-a-half hours.

"I'm glad I finished (school) in Minnesota," she said, adding, "I don't think I would have learned as much if I'd stayed in Oklahoma."

One of the lessons she took to heart was to use caution when treating hair chemically, she said. A friend kept experimenting with chemicals on her own hair and, despite being warned, eventually applied too much.

"Her hair started smoking," Weiss remembered.

The barber said she passed her state boards, initially in Minnesota and, a couple of years ago, in Wisconsin. She's now got her license, which must be renewed here every three years.

The River Falls resident found out about the opportunity at Cal's through one of Butts' customers from that city, who told her the Ellsworth barber was extremely busy, she said. A girlfriend also advised her to "check out" the west end shop. After three weeks there, she's already professing to be a fan of her colleague's favorite professional sports team, the Green Bay Packers.

The daughter of Ron and Diane Weiss of River Falls, a retired lineman and apartment complex manager, respectively, accompanies her boyfriend to stock car races in Ashland and cares for her two dogs in her spare time, she said. She's looking forward to the birth of their baby to her brother, Ryan, and his wife.

Butts hasn't worked with another barber in his shop since he moved to his present location in 1974, he said. Previously, at a shop a block east along the village's Main Street, he was assisted by Steve Johnson, Kyle Larson and John Conroy, at various times.