Mar. 23, 2019

Tribune Photo/Joey Hedges For nearly 80 years, the tradition continues at John’s Barber Shop

Mallory Herrmann

Mayor Bill Baird’s haircuts aren’t often reported in the newspaper, but this one was different. Baird joined a long line of mayors in getting a trim at John’s Barber Shop in downtown Lee’s Summit. Nick Swearngin says that between him, John Swearngin (his dad), and Jim McQuerry, they’ve cut every mayor’s hair back, dating back as far as Todd George.

When asked how the tradition started, the elder Swearngin says with a laugh, “Well, it was probably the only place to go!”

But what may have begun as a coincidence was firmly cemented as a Lee’s Summit mayoral tradition when John told Karen Messerli, who served as mayor from 1994 to 2010, “You know, you’re the only mayor whose hair I haven’t cut!” He admits that she only came in once, but that she did keep the tradition going.

As Nick gets started on Baird’s hair, they chat about current goings-on around town and with other customers. The conversation turns to basketball, which is on the shop’s TV.

Someone asks Nick if he’s going to use some of that “quick grow” hair to cover Baird’s bald spot. Everyone laughs and Nick quips, “He just got too tall for his hair; it’s not his fault.”

The haircut ends with shaving cream and a straight razor, which Baird says is his favorite part. It takes him back to the old-school haircuts he got as a young man in Clinton, Mo.

Baird says he feels great. He loves that this kind of haircut highlights what is so great about Lee’s Summit. The traditions, the easy conversation, the investment that people have in their city – it’s all here.

“This is like the whole spirit of community theme, right here in this room,” Baird says.

John’s Barber Shop, located at 217 SE Douglas Street, is open 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 6 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Visit them on the web at or call 816-524-1711.