On the last day of cutting hair at his barbershop at 903 Parkway, Ronnie Bradford welcomed some old friends.
Scott Bryden and his son, William, stopped by for a haircut.
They didn’t want to miss Bradford as he was closing down the shop that had served customers for more than 60 years, first as Elmo’s, then in the last three years as Ronnie’s.
Bradford gave William, now 16, his first haircut when he was just a few months old.
It was a touching farewell for all, and Bradford said there were some tears and hugs.
"He’s the only barber I’ve ever known," William said.
William said on the way out each time, he’d check his haircut in an antique mirror on the wall.
That mirror wasn’t part of the inventory that Bradford decided to sell. There were more tears and hugs when he took the mirror off the wall and gave it to William.
Bradford said he didn’t want to close the shop, but a new landlord who bought the whole block made some "qualifications" he couldn’t meet.
Unable to find another suitable location for his shop, he’s made a deal with Big Dan’s on Chestnut to have that shop on Mondays, Big Dan’s regular day off.
He’s also working full-time at Danny’s Barber Shop, Highway 68B in Clinton.
Barbershop customers are loyal, he said, and, though it’s been only a week, many have found him at both locations.
"It’s going pretty well," Bradford said, though not yet up to the 35-40 customers he often served.
"I can’t do all those on a Monday," he said, "but some will drive up to Clinton. My customers are like family."
He’s watched hairstyles change through his 21 years as a barber, and, like everything else, the price of a haircut has gone up.
He’s helped the fashionable go from long, long locks to the short, short military cuts popular today. The price has gone up from $4.25 to $10.
"We have a lot of dads who have two or three boys. We’ll give them a break."
He still gives a straight-razor shave, but there’s no shoeshine service as in the past.
One thing hasn’t changed in his two decades behind the barber’s chair.
"The conversation is the same. We’ll talk about anything: Hunting, fishing, politics. Some folks come in just to talk."
Being voted Best Barbershop for five years by Log Cabin readers was especially gratifying to Bradford. "It was great to get that recognition. It helped in more ways than one."
The shop was a landmark.
"For some folks it felt like home," Bradford said. "That’s the atmosphere we wanted: Give a good haircut, treat everybody the same."
(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at email@example.com and 505-1234.)