In the more than 49 years Bob Kaiser has had his barber shop at 2117 W. Main St. in Belleville, he has never been shy about proclaiming his love for the Chicago Cubs.
The thousands of people who drive by the shop each day during baseball season know if the Cubs won or lost if the white “W” flag is flying from his sign.
In the shop window a large banner proclaims, “Wait ‘Til Next Year.” But only because the Cubs are the World Series champs this year, Kaiser said. Come the first of January he will change back to his “Wait ‘Til This Year” banner, which he has used since the Cubs improved enough to warrant the optimism.
Cubs memorabilia fills his shop, inside and out. He even wear a Cubs blue smock with a Cubs logo on it. The shop has gotten even fuller since the Cubs won their first World Series since 1908. Friends, neighbors, customers and even strangers have brought him stuff.
A Lindenwood University-Belleville student who went to the series dropped off a pennant for him.
“He said he saw it and said, ‘I got to get one of those for the barber,’” Kaiser said. “I wanted to pay him for it. He wouldn’t take my money.”
A couple of women he thinks were from Lindenwood brought him a Cubs keychain. Several other people got him pennants or other items.
Kaiser, who is 80, said he was taking phone calls all day long after the big win.
“If I was sitting outside people would honk and yell congratulations,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of fun.”
He said he got a large plant from someone he doesn’t even know, apparently someone who drives by frequently and sees all the signs.
“Someone delivered it and I checked the name thinking it must be from a customer,” Kaiser said. “But I didn’t know him.”
“A guy brought me in a cake,” he said. “Just yesterday a guy brought me some cookies that had “Go Cubs” written in icing on them. I’d show you but I ate them already.”
Through the years Kaiser had endured a lot of good-natured ribbing for sticking with the Cubs, especially in the middle of Cardinals territory. A few years ago he even had a yard full of red brooms courtesy of his grandchildren after the Cardinals swept the Cubs in a series.
None of it deters him. He knows it’s just jealousy.
“I always say you either are a Cubs fan or wish you were a Cubs fan,” he said.
His main love is the game, which he coached for many years. But joking with his customers and friends is close.
“I have fun with it or else why bother?” he said.
He ponders a new year which could bring another title for a talented Cubs team loaded with young players. Being a frontrunner is a different feeling for a longtime Cubs fan, but one that he said he thought he could get used to.