When you are one of my age period, you most likely have some experiences with the old-style barbershop visits, you know – those similar to the barber shop run by Floyd Lawson in the timeless television classic ‘the Andy Griffith Show’.
It seemed to be the place to gather, make conversation, share stories, celebrate family and yet still get a good haircut.
Recently I was forced to say good bye to one of two ‘Floyds’ in my life, with the passing of Ron, my barber for most of the last 38 years.
And I feel fortunate, that as a kid growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska my Dad took me to see Art’s Barber Shop on 48th Street. I was honored to have two of the old style, barber shops to hold onto in my rapidly filling up memory bank of life.
While neither Ron or Art were as bumbling and seemingly absent minded as ‘Floyd’ from the ‘Andy Griffith Show’, they both supplied the quintessential idea of the old style barber shop where you could get a proper haircut that was every bit worth the money you paid, while also having those great conversations and stories floating through the air of the shop.
As a kid, I remember vividly the wooden plank laid across the arms of the barber chair, complete with a comfy pad in the middle for little me to be reachable to good ol’ Art. Although Art was a member of my Dad’s church (yes, I am a preacher’s kid), the conversation never seemed to dangle on the subject – at least not when I was in the chair for Art knew what I liked to talk about and that was sports.
Art was an avid supporter of both the area high school, Lincoln Northeast, as well as the Nebraska Cornhuskers – as was I. Of course, it helped that Art had a son, Gary, who was a star on the high school football and basketball teams before giving Nebraska a try and then settling in as a standout receiver for Doane College. I knew all his stats and loved telling Art that I did.
As much as I loved talking about Gary, it was Art’s other son that fascinated me as Dean was a cartoonist. When I realized he was working for one of those Saturday morning favorites, do you remember Hannah-Barbara, I felt honored to say I knew this guy and his Dad. Even now when watching old cartoons with the grandkids, I still will look and be quick to point out his name with the claim – I knew a guy that helped make this cartoon.
After many years of growing the hair out and moving around, I settled in here among the central part of Kansas and found the ‘Family Barber Shop’. Once again, I found the quintessential style barber shop of old times, where not only the haircut was a keeper, but so were many of the conversations between the person in barber chair, the barber and even the folks patiently waiting.
Ron and I became friends, as we had kids in common (his son Brandon was one of my daughter’s good friends), we both loved the local sports, we both had very common core religious faith and Ron loved to give me a hard time about my Nebraska Cornhuskers – though some of that came from his barber sidekick Norma, who was a huge Oklahoma Sooner fan.
We became friends over the years, especially as our kids grew up, married off and we both started having grandkids – more fun things to talk about. I used to joke with him the last several years about how he couldn’t retire because I didn’t hardly trust anyone else with the mop on the top of my head.
But times change, life moves on and after my heart attack, my daughter moved back to town and offered to cut my hair knowing that a simple haircut was hard on my disability income at times, and so she did, which cut down on how often I saw Ron the last few years.
I do remember talking with Ron as we both dealt with adult children going through difficult marriages and divorces.
I do remember being in the shop, sitting in the chair talking to Ron about how he was doing after his son, Brandon, had an accident fighting a fire as a volunteer fireman and getting badly burned.
I do remember the rough day when I heard that the same son, Brandon, was killed in a traffic accident. My heart twisted not only for Ron and his dear wife, but also because I had to tell my daughter – she was, like I said earlier, one very good friend with Brandon.
A couple years back, Ron had a stroke and had to give up his barber shop business of 52 years and that was a sad day not only for Ron, but for our community as he was a foundation of our Main Street.
About nine months ago I returned to the ‘Family Barber Shop’, now called ‘Fox & Ash Barbershop’ and while Mr. Porter gave me a good haircut, it just wasn’t the same. So, I wrote a ‘Grumpy Gramps’ about it with ‘It’s Just a Haircut’, and when I took a copy to Ron and his wife personally – it was an honor.
As we said good-bye to my barber Ron, I said good-bye on this earth to a cherished friend, not only to me but to so many others over his 52 years of barbershop conversations and duties.
Until next time – prayers, blessings & happy thoughts – ‘Grumpy Gramps’.
(Copyright@2018, CrossDove Writer – no part of this may be printed, copied or used without written permission.)