Junior Hobson is known for his fiddling expertise and has been president of the Illinois Old Time Fiddlers Association for the past 16 years. In Stewardson, he’s known as the village barber.
Hobson started his barbering career in Shelbyville in 1960. From Shelbyville, Hobson became a barber in Toledo before settling down in Stewardson in 1965. His first shop was across the street from his current location from 1965 to 1974.
According to Hobson, over the years he has cut hair for several generations.
“I’ve cut at least four, maybe five generations of one given family,” Hobson said. “Where do the years go?”
Hobson said he likes watching some of his younger customers get older and bring children of their own into his barber shop. Well, sometimes anyway.
“It makes you feel a little bit older,” Hobson said. “I have this happen once in awhile, I will go somewhere and someone comes up to me, and they may be bald headed and look kind of old, and say to me “You used to cut my hair when I was a little boy.”
“And I would say, you’re not making me feel any younger,” Hobson said.
Hobson said his father was a blacksmith and decided he wanted to find a job where he could work with his hands.
“I really like meeting different people,” Hobson said. “It’s kind of interesting to meet people from all different walks of life.”
“You can learn a lot from people,” Hobson added.
One of Hobson’s customers, Andy Friese, likes coming into the barber shop for a hair cut and visit.
“I enjoy all the different stories,” Friese said. “He’s always has a good one.”
Hobson can never sit still. He always has to be doing something. So in addition to his barber responsibilities, Hobson likes to keep busy as a blacksmith, painter and occasionally building musical instruments.
Hobson said growing up as a son of a blacksmith he acquired a deep appreciation for the trade later in life.
Hobson makes a variety of items as a blacksmith, including candle holders, meat forks, ladles, sign brackets, trivets, flower pots, chandeliers, sundials, fire place sets and sticking tommy candle holders once used by coal minors for light in the mines. He sells his blacksmith projects and has two photo albums filled with examples of his work.
“I want to keep the art of blacksmithing alive,” Hobson said. “At one time it was a blacksmith who forged out nails before you could buy them in the store.”
In past years, Hobson used to have a blacksmith general store taking his mobile blacksmith shop to craft fairs and special events. He said his equipment he was taking out for blacksmith demonstrations was started to get heavy and massive and hard to transport so he decided to just work out of his home.
Hobson sells a few of his blacksmith projects at a business that adjoins his barbershop. The business is a thrift shop owned by his wife of 58 years Daisy Hobson and bears the name Whatever on the front window. Dasiy Hobson’s thrift shop at one time was an upholstery shop.
Whatever is also home to a wall full of Hobson’s paintings. One of which he won him a place in the Shelby County art show in 1997.
He also created a special gift for his wife Daisy.
Hobson built her a special dulcimer complete with a panda inlay on the front and a painted panda on the back. And that isn’t the only dulcimer created in his lifetime. He built dulcimers for each of his 6 grandchildren. Each dulcimer was individually accented with an inlay of either their favorite sport or an organization they were a part of.
With all of his extra projects, Hobson has only a few words to describe all of the work he puts into them.
Hobson said, “I see it as time filler, not a time killer.”