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'The caboose is staying': Daughter honoring her father's legacy in McCordsville

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Posted at 5:00 AM, Sep 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 11:28:21-04

MCCORDSVILLE — A piece of history in Hancock County was torn down earlier this month, but something new is on the way.

The new owner is now honoring the legacy of her late father.

This caboose in the center of McCordsville has been a staple since 1995. Home to haircuts, good conversations and lifelong friendships.

Now the barber shop is gone and a new community spot is brewing.

If you frequent McCordsville, it’s likely you’ve been stopped by a train, but it’s this train right by the tracks that will catch your attention.

“My father barbered in this caboose for since 1995,” Ja’Nene Gillam said.

Her father, Gary Wiley, was a barber in McCordsville for more than four decades, 27 years ago he added the caboose to his shop.

“He loved the customers, he loved the community and he loved to work,” Gillam said.

Her father died earlier this year from pancreatic cancer, his death a hard pill to swallow for his customers

“He continued to work throughout the entire time. He never, other than maybe a couple days, did not quit you know working because he loved what he did,” Gillam said. “The customers were really sad about my dad passing and even at the funeral there was just lines of people that spoke to me that spoke volumes of my dad’s character.”

The barber shop left empty in the wake of her father’s death had Gillam brewing up a new idea.

“I said I want to make this into a coffee shop. I think that would honor my dad and it would make me happy too, you know. I feel close to him when he's there, I feel close to my mom when I'm here,” Gillam said.

Her plan is to make “Coffee at the Crossing” a hub in the community for her father’s long-time customers and of course anyone looking for a good cup of joe.

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Proposed rendering of Coffee at the Crossing
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Proposed rendering of Coffee at the Crossing

“The caboose will stay, and people actually will get to sit in it just like before instead of in a barber chair though they get to sit and drink coffee,” Gillam said.

She said she believes if her dad were here today, he’d be proud of her and her brother.

“I think he would say I wish I would have thought of that sooner I think that he would be very proud quite honestly,” Gillam said.

The old barber shop building is gone but the caboose is staying and will be the center point of the new coffee shop.

Gillam said they are chugging along and hope to be open early 2023.