It has been 60 years since I served my stint in the Army, finished barber college and came back to Tallassee.
Myrt Strickland had closed her small cafe in Tallaweka and opened a cafe in Jordanville. They said Tallaweka on Gilmer Avenue was too far out of the business and residential area for a business to thrive. I rented that cafe building for $20 a month and on June 10, 1959, I opened a barber shop. A barber chair, some straight chairs, a fan and a hot water heater started me out and a few days later I found some mirrors.
Haircuts for men, women and children were 75 cents and flat tops were 90 cents. Two men who came in at the start were Billy Jack Lindsey and Jack Hudson and the rest have died off. Claud Thrash is one of the children and the rest have died or moved away.
After a while I started painting signs to supplement my income. The sign business was not automated in those days so all signs were hand-painted with lettering brushes. I must compliment L.D. O'Steen, who had the highest talent, for showing me the proper paints and brushes.
The sign shop is still operating. My son Ronnie has worked here since he was a boy and took over the sign shop as soon as he finished high school. His business has grown in many areas and while it is modern he still hand letters many signs which is evident by looking at the ballpark walls in our area.
In 1967, I was asked to make the Tallassee float for Gov. Lurleen Wallace’s inaugural parade. The float was widely received and orders started coming in for floats for homecoming and Christmas parades. Before we knew it, we added float building to our work menu.
On a dare I taught myself the auction business and took this on for 10 or 15 years. I was on the auction stand in Columbus, Georgia, where someone handed me a note saying Elvis Presley had died and I announced it. I remember listening to Elvis that night on the way back to Tallassee and to this day I never hear the song “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” that my mind doesn't go back to that day.
In the 1980s, Jack Mitchell and I started a TV show in Tallassee after he left radio. The show ran Mondays through Fridays from 6 to 7:15 a.m. Jack left the show after about one year and I continued for the next 16 years. I worked seven days a week for what seemed like 24 hours a day so in 2000 I decided to give it up.
The day I left the TV show, Jack Venable came by and talked me into writing a column for The Tallassee Tribune. I said I would try it for a few weeks and that has turned into 19 years.
During all this time I have continued to run the barber shop. I have accumulated a few things — a son, a daughter-in-law, three granddaughters and their three husbands, and four great grandchildren (three boys and a girl).
Ronnie has the sign service, Amanda is a bank manager and her husband is an electrician. Hanna works with me as a barber and her husband is in aeronautics. Cora is a student at Auburn University and her husband is a plumber. Two of the greats are students in Eclectic and the other two are babies. The daughter-in-law takes care of the babies and students, is a bookkeeper, types these articles and tries to boss me around.
That is my 60 years and I've had a good run. How many more are left? Your guess is as good as mine.