12/30/07 — Clips of an era -- longtime barber shop closes

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Clips of an era -- longtime barber shop closes

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on December 30, 2007 2:01 AM

Danny Cook remembers sitting in Leslie Potts' chair when he was 6 years old.

"My dad, he brought me up here," he said.

That was 35 years ago.

So when Cook, now 41, made his way to that same chair, he smiled at his old friend -- and barber -- for the last time.

"I like talking to him," Cook said. "And I like the way he cuts my hair -- same way every time."

Potts does not quite remember that particular haircut he gave Cook more than three decades ago.

But he could tell you about what has brought the "young man" back month after month.

He knows because it is the same thing that has brought him to work at the Village Barber Shop every day since 1965.

"Watching people grow up, it has been one of the joys," Potts said. "It's something very few people get to experience. You see somebody and turn around, then you look up and they've grown six or eight inches."

Maybe that is why Friday was so "tough" for the 68-year-old.

He knew that once that door off William Street closed, he would never open it again.

Potts and his partner, Carlton Crumpler, described by many who have frequented the shop for as long as they can remember as "town icons," began their retirements this weekend.

But there was little time for celebration inside the Goldsboro business two days ago.

With every customer who left, a few more walked through the door.

"Hey Johnny," Crumpler said to one. "Go on and take your seat."

None of the men who came in were strangers.

It seemed as though each had been in a few -- or a few hundred -- times.

Crumpler just calls them "family."

"There's a whole lot of families where we've done four generations," he said. "Or maybe it's five. I can't really remember.

"It's something to cut their hair for the first time," he added. "They grow up and go on and get married, come in with their own kids. Yeah, it's something."

J.D. Tyndall hasn't missed a haircut in 30-plus years.

So as he sat in Crumpler's chair one last time, he talked about some of the memories made at the barber shop -- ones he says he won't soon forget.

"I brought my grandson here for his first haircut," he said. "And my son, he was just a baby when he first came."

The "quality of work" has been worth coming back for, he said. But the "friendships" are what he will miss the most next time he needs a trim.

"Most of these places, it's just Yankees who moved in," he said. "These right here are the hometown boys."

So as he made his way out the door and toward the parking lot, he turned around and gave the old shop one more good look -- as if tomorrow might bring with it the promise of another 35 years.

But the sign in the window said it all -- "Retiring & Closing Dec. 28. 1965-2007."

Crumpler admits it is "sad."

"It's going to be hard," he said. "I've been getting up and coming here every morning for 44 years. It's going to be an adjustment."

Potts agrees.

But for him, the overwhelming joy of reliving old memories will surely upstage the sorrow that comes with ending a career.

And so will knowing that the friendships forged inside that little barber shop will never retire.

"I've had fun, a lot of fun, but we sure are going to miss these people," Potts said. "The friendships and the memories -- that's what it's all about."