In Stephenville Texas next to the city park on Graham Street is a retired gas station from days past. A few years ago two local business men put their minds together and opened two businesses in the repurposed building. On one side a coffee shop named Rodeo Grounds serves up delicious gourmet coffee with a smile. There is a pretty steady flow of cars through the drive through every day. In the summer time one corner of the coffee shop turns into a snow cone stand that is popular with both kids and adults.
The other half of the building is a barber shop called Woodrow’s Barber Shop. I arrived at the shop just before 8 am and there were already 5 pick up trucks in the parking lot waiting for the shop to open. The proprietor of the barber shop is Milton Horner who is affectionately known to most as Woodrow. I am sure there is a story behind the name, but I have never actually inquired of it. Milton arrives in his baby blue late 60’s Chevy pickup. He is dressed in his usual attire of bib overalls and flat cap. Milton is a man of several “hats”. He is also known to the locals as the “bee man” as one of his “hobbies” is keeping bees. When a bee swarm or hive is found Milton is often called to remove it. He also has a cabinet shop where he builds cabinets and windows in his spare time. One recent project were new windows for the local American Legion. He also built the cabinets in my parents house about 10 years ago. He even has a barber chair in the cabinet shop and on Mondays you can go by there if you are desperate for a cut because Woodrow’s is closed. Milton is also very passionate about our local politics and is involved on a regular basis. He also frequents one of the local churches. Another passion of his that we have in common is our interest in classic vehicles. We often discuss car projects.
I walked around to the entrance to the coffee shop as Milton opened up and the waiting customers filed in. The ladies in the coffee shop whipped up some much needed coffee for me to drink as I waited my turn for a hair cut. I made my way through a pair of French doors in to the adjacent barber shop where an older gentleman was already seated waiting for his hair cut.
There are 5 restored antique barber chairs in the shop. Along the front of the shop a repurposed row of wooden theater seats serve as the waiting area. The walls are decorated with a plethora of items. A fire man helmet, old pick up grille, a guitar, and the old black and white picture of the steel workers on the beam in New York are a few of the many items. There is a mirror adorned with fishing and hunting pictures where anyone can post up a picture of their prize catches if they desire.
The clientele is as diverse as the decorations. Men, women, and children are welcomed. This is a blue collar town, but is also home to Tarleton State University. Ranchers, welders, factory workers, bankers, preachers, professors, and oil field workers like me are just an example of the daily customers. I am usually accompanied by my 5 year old son who has only had one haircut anywhere else his whole life. He loves going to see Mr. Woodrow and always entertains the barber cutting his hair.
Milton is fast at work on the first customer. I am told to take a number. Even the “numbers” are fitting for the establishment. They are ear tags ranchers put in cows ears to keep track of their herd. Yellow in color, one side has a number and the other has been customized with the words “Woodrow’s Barber Shop”. They are housed in a homemade holder I am sure Milton made hanging next to the front door.
I take a seat in an old wood chair as I wait my turn. A few minutes later Sonya, one of the other barbers arrives and quickly dons her apron and goes to work on the next patron. Shortly after Ray arrives. He is a scary, burly looking man with numerous tattoos, but harmless. He also commonly wears a flat top hat which adornes his head today. On one visit I found it comical that he had a little blonde girl about 3 years old on a booster seat in his chair. I am Ray’s first customer for the day.
After a brief discussion about my hair cut and shave Ray goes to work. I have always enjoyed getting my haircut because it is very relaxing to me. Unfortunately there isn’t much hair left on my head to cut. The clippers used at Woodrow’s are attached to a vacuum system that sucks all the clipped hair away so none is left on the customer. Ray works meticulously on my hair as if he is a painter and my head is his canvass. A straight razor is used to shave around my ears and neck. When he is satisfied with his masterpiece a back massager appears and he proceeds to relax me even farther. After a few minutes of massaging my shoulders and upper back he tips back the chair to begin my shave. I close my eyes in a very relaxed state and listen to several separate conversations taking place simultaneously. I hear a patron discussing a wood working project with Milton and Sonya is talking about the new proposed legislation that would abolish “day light savings” in Texas. Often the topics range from local politics to ranching, to weather and anything in between. The shave includes hot towels, straight razor shave, and cool towels in the end.
My relaxing time in Ray’s chair comes to an end way to soon. Many men love to tease women about going to the spa, but those who do have no idea what they are missing or they just don’t want to admit they enjoy getting pampered. With gratitude I pay Ray for my cut and shave and after a few pleasantries I leave to continue my day.
If you are ever needing a hair cut or shave there are many places you can go, but Woodrow’s Barber Shop in Stephenville Texas is a great place to start.
-written in March of 2017