IRH - The Barber Shops

This section is to honor the works of Russ Lancaster who started the “I Remember Hamlet” web site years ago. Without his pioneering the web at that time we might not have gathered all these memories of our Hamlet, NC. We thank you Russ for what you started in 1996, may you Rest in Peace. Russ was kind enough to let me download his web site before he took it down. Thank you Russ.
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IRH - The Barber Shops

Post by David » Thu October 31, 2019, 7:41 am

The Barber Shops
1940's - 1960's
by Russ Lancaster
Every small town in America had it's own version of Hamlet's three main barber shops in the 1940's thru 1960's. Some may still exist today. In fact, I have found one in Jacksonville called Central Barber Shop which jarred my memory somewhat and prompted me to reflect on the three main barber shops in Hamlet back when I was growing up.
The three main shops in Hamlet were City Barber Shop on Main Street, Hadden's Barber Shop on Hamlet Avenue and Yancey Brigman's on Front Street.
City Barber shop was a three chair place complete with the spriraling barber pole out front and with gigantic plate glass windows that let you look out toward both Main Street and Raleigh Street at the folks walking by as you had your hair cut. This was the most modern of the three and the place where my Daddy took me for my first haircut (which I received upside down and screaming in the chair) so I've been told.
The wait was never long in City Barber Shop and the barbers never forgot a person's name. They knew your likes, dislikes, hobbys, sports accomplishments, standing in school, your parents, your pets; they knew you better than you knew yourself. That was what was so great about that place. You were given the extra attention that would bring you back. You were always asked about your sideburns and how to cut the back. If you made the mistake of asking for a cut not suited to your hair or even personality, you were politely told that it wouldn't work. You trusted these men and for good reason. They generally knew best.
A just as popular barber shop but maybe not quite as modern was Hadden's on Hamlet Avenue. There were 5 chairs in that shop with Leo Fincher featured as the main barber. You may not have been known as personally there but you could get a good haircut at a reasonable price. But, you got exactly what you asked for there. That turned out to be a big mistake once when as a freshman in High School, I opted for a crew cut about two years after they had gone out of style. I was given exactly what I asked for and after being shown the results in the mirror, was ashamed to go back to school. I even inquired about town as to where I might buy a wig. Unheard of back in those times to find a wig in small town America but I was desperate. I never found one and did go back to school where I was self conscious for about the next two weeks.
I also had one other bad experience at Hadden's when, after receiving a good looking haircut, I was then combed down with an awful smelling hair tonic. I mean it was so rotten smelling (to me) that it gave me a genuine headache. I went home and washed my hair for hours but could not get rid of that awful smell. I don't know what it was but I have never used any liquid hair tonic since that time.
The greasy, slicked down look was what was popular especially during the 50's and early 60's and the two most popular choices were a thick, white oil called Wildroot Cream Oil and a clear gel type tonic called Bryicreem. My Dad's choice his whole life was Wildroot Cream Oil and his thick black hair shined both day and night with generous portions of that stuff. He was a handsome man with his wavy black hair always in place. My own choice was Bryicreem which I used until well after I had come out of the Air Force in 1963.
IOh yes, I almost forgot about the third barber shop, Yancey Brignian's down on Front Street. It was rumored that you could get a haircut for a quarter there but that old Mr. Brigman may cut your hair the old fashioned way, with a bowl on top. He had his share of regular customers in his one chair shop but you would never find one of us teenagers there. One of my favorite Yancey Brigman stories involved a classmate of my named George Glenn. The story (never fully substantiated) was that George (aged about 12 or so), burst through the door of Yancey Brigman's one afternoon after school selling his Hamlet News (the local 3 day a week newspaper). It is said that Mr. Brigman had a customer in the chair giving him a shave with a straight razor as George came in with his famous yell "Hamlet News". The story goes on that Mr. Brigman was startled by George's voice and actually cut the earlobe off his customer and that as George flew out of the shop in horror, he could hear Yancey saying to the customer, "Whoops, nicked ya".
As I said, I can't vouch for the accuracy of the earlobe accident in Yancey Brigman's but do know for a fact that it was one of the reasons you couldn't find a teenager in the place, ever. I'm sure it hurt the old man's business. Knowing George, I have a sneaky suspicion there WAS some truth to the story. Guess I'll never know for sure.
LAs I said, you can still find an occasional barber shop like those if you look hard enough these days, even in Jacksonville. But you can't find one in Hamlet anymore. All three of those places have long since closed down.
But... I remember all three of them well... And... I remember Hamlet

freddie hassler
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Re: IRH - The Barber Shops

Post by freddie hassler » Thu October 31, 2019, 5:17 pm

I went to all 3. Hamlet Ave was like .75 cent front st. .50 Main st $1.00 My brother &I only went to Front st. once when our Mom only had didn't have .75 for Hamlet ave cut. when our Mom married our Stepdad Dan Smith, he alway's took us with him to Main st. because he liked that Barber Shop best :roll: .

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