Woody’s Barbershop, in Dahlonega, GA, has been providing cuts and shaves since 1924, one-hundred years after this town became the site of the first major gold rush in the United States. Alton Jarrard, the current owner, has been barbering for 46 years. He purchased the shop from Woody in the mid 60’s. As I chatted with Alton, he reminisced about the days when the barbershop was the place to gather to share the news of the day. He remembered one fellow who always came in when he had a joke to share. He recalled a young boy who was sent in by his father for a badly needed haircut but insisted he did not have the money to pay. Woody cut his hair free of charge. Shortly after the boy left, the barbers spotted the youngster existing a general store with a brand new fishing pole.
Today, the art of barbering appears to be dying. Alton has been looking to hire a younger barber so he can reduce his hours but he has not been successful in finding someone. The younger generation of hair cutters are attracted to working in salons where the compensation is more lucrative. It would be a shame if barbershops disappeared. In most towns, the barbershop has been the central meeting place for the menfolk of the community and where young boys still undergo that right of passage…their first “manly” haircut.