I took the fifty cent from my dad and jumped out of the car somewhere along Parsonage Street between Hughes Blvd. and the First Christian Church. I stood there on teh sidewalk for a brief second before I climbed up on the old wooden steps and porch leading up to the door. It was the door on the right. The one of the left hand end of the porch led into the little neighborhood store. It was easy to recognize the difference because the one of the left had the vegetable bins with all of the corn, squash, butter beans and new red potatoes in them. The one on the right was more nondescript from a visual perspective but when the door opened there was the very distinct smell of Wildroot Cream Oil.
When you stepped through the door you realized that the room you were entering couldn’t have been much more than 10 feet wide by maybe 3o feet long. Bolted to the floor up against the wall on the right side was a row of chairs. The old theater type that folded up and shared an arm with the seat directly next to you. On the opposite wall, from the ceiling, down to counter height was a mirror that stretched from the front window all the way too the back wall. Between these mirrors and the theater seats were the two massive chairs…. the location where Mr. Waco Sawyer, the barber, held court.
There always seemed to be 2 or 3 people sitting in the theater chairs waiting their turn to move to the center of attention in the barber chair. But then again, they never were the center of attention…. Mr. Sawyer was. He always made everyone that came into his shop feel welcomed. Like he had been just standing there all day long waiting just for them. Once the pleasantries of greeting each newcomer was out of the way, he would return to the story at hand. The topics ranged from local and national politics, to gardening, to religion, to growing up during the depression. I always loved going to see Mr. Sawyer, even though I wasn’t a big fan of getting a haircut. But I did like it when he would shave my neck. Mr. Sawyer used heated shaving cream that was dispensed from this really cool looking stainless steel dispenser. And he removed it with the use of an old fashioned straight razor that he sharpened on a long leather strap that was attached to the side of the chair. There was something that always made me feel so grown up when he used that on the back of my neck…. I guess it was because I would see him use it to give the older men there a shave and it made me feel more like one of the men even though I was only 11 years old.
When he was done, I would walk back outside and it was like my parents had been sitting around the corner just waiting because as soon as I came out… there they were. And my mom was always so happy because I finally looked respectable again… and my hair was combed… probably for the last time until I came back and Mr. Sawyer combed it again!!