Jim Wilson's Barber Shop
Newport News, VA 23607
So far no one
has mentioned Jim Wilson's Barber Shop on Buxton Avenue.
Mr. Wilson was a kind elderly man with a small one-chair shop,
located just a couple of doors south of the intersection with 19th Street and
on the east side of Buxton.
When I first moved onto the Boulevard (57 Pear Avenue) in 1934 at
age 6, my parents soon found out about Mr.
Wilson's and the special price he had for kids on weekdays. As I recall, a kid under 12 could get a 15-cent
haircut provided he could be in the shop no later than 3:30. With Woodrow Wilson School letting out at 3:00,
it required a straight dash in order to beat the deadline.
The 15-cent haircut was a quick affair. The electric razor did
most of the work. Sideburns came off first
(completely off), then comb and electric razor around the top. A quick snip-snip with the scissors took off any
odd hairs still standing.. That final process could get a bit awkward. Mr. Wilson would get nervous when a bored
kid began to wiggle. He would then make one of several dire warnings about the danger
"If you don't sit still when I'm using the scissors,. . . ."
My father had a Jim Wilson story that he used to relate often in
my presence: Supposedly, on a weekday
afternoon a bunch of kids were crowded into Mr. Wilson's shop. It was an extremely bitter cold day. On the floor
lay a big hound dog - mostly sleeping, but occasionally opening one eye. One of the kids asked why the dog was
allowed in. Mr. Wilson explained that that the dog liked to come in when he was hungry. After a polite pause,
one of the kids bit and asked "how come?" Mr. Wilson replied that, "Sometimes when a kid wiggles and jumps
around too much a piece of ear might get snipped off. The dog likes that."
Supposedly the very graphic suggestion had an effect. Worked on me!
The haircut style was distinctive. The downside was that
everyone knew you had just gotten "a Jim Wilson." The
upside was that he took a lot off, so one of those haircuts lasted a long time.
No normal kid under 12 liked to get a haircut.
was a kid a couple years younger than I. He was known by grownups only as Jim
grandson (in the adult world a famous grandfather had first rights to the name). Jimmy was a great guy. I last
saw him about 1949 in front of his home on Cedar Avenue. He was showing off his sporty 1938 Willys coupe
into which he had just installed a war surplus Jeep engine.
Nostalgic best wishes, Fred
- Fred Field
('45) of CA - 01/03/04
What a great story! Thanks, Fred!
Barber Shop was right next door to Gertrude Philbeck's beauty shop, in the same
Gertrude and her first husband and son Lowell used to live upstairs from us on Maple Avenue. She was so good to me
and would polish my nails when I was about three or four years old. One day I painted one of Lowell's little metal
trucks with bright red nail polish! He was very nice about it but I got in trouble with my mother! Gertrude had her
shop on Buxton Avenue for many years. When she gave my mother a permanent I would go next door and see Mr. Wilson
and he would chat with me and entertain me if he was not too busy! Gertrude is now retired and lives in Poquoson
with her son and daughter in law. She is a lifelong friend of our family. Gertrude eventually married Frank Wilson
(son of the barber). They lived on Buxton Avenue. Frank passed away a couple of years ago and then Gertrude went
with her son. When I visit Newport News, my mother and I go out to Poquoson and visit them.
Burton ('64) of RI - 01/04/05
1911 Barber Pole clip art courtesy of http://store.yahoo.com/a1-popcornmachines/or19brananba.html - 01/24/04
"Brylcreem Jingle" courtesy of
http://home.att.net/~maggie49/music4.html at the suggestion of Dave
Spriggs ('64) of VA - 01/24/04
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