In 2016 Gilman City, like most small towns around, is struggling. Its only restaurant recently closed. It has about eight businesses running these days: a lumber yard, a bank, a medical clinic, a service station, a grain elevator, a school, and the barber shop. It has lots of old buildings still standing, including a blacksmith shop and this old Sinclair service station.
You can still get a haircut at Bill’s Whitten’s Barber Shop in Gilman City if you make an appointment.
Bill, who was born on a farm between Gilman City and Jamesport, has had five different locations for his barber shop inside Gilman City. He has barbered part-time and worked out at other jobs. At one point, he sold to another barber, who soon closed it up.
“I couldn’t stand the idea of not having a barber shop in town,” said Bill. “I owned this building so I put the shop in here.”
Bill and his wife, Barbara, are popular vocalists at community, church and private gathers. Bill really does sing while he cuts your hair. He’ll sing his favorite songs or yours. He’s been singing to his clients now for 48 years. Bill and Barbara eventually retired and live in Gilman. In 2016 he was still holding music jams in his barber shop.