‘IT WAS TIME’: Stinson’s closes its doors after 70 years of service

Published 3:00 am Saturday, December 31, 2016

At 3:30 p.m. on December 23, 2016, the doors of Stinson’s Barbershop on Main Street in Brundidge closed permanently, putting a cap on a family business that was the hub of the community for 70 years.

It was a bittersweet day for the children of the late Early Stinson who have “barbered” in his memory and in support of the community for five years.

“It was time,” said Jimmie Stinson Jackson. “Seventy years is a long time. We have enjoyed being together here in Daddy’s shop and getting to know new people and renew old friendships but we all realized that it’s time.”

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Earl Stinson’s dad Hubert was a barber in Springhill and he learned a little barbering from him.

When Stinson got of the Navy in 1945, he was offered the chance to buy the 10×34-foot barbershop on South Main Street in downtown Brundidge.

The barbershop was the hub of the Brundidge community. It was the gathering place for the men in the community. They would go inside and sit around or prop on the window ledge. People would stick their heads in the door just to say hello and Stinson would sometimes stick his head out to ask about something he had heard.

With the Stinson siblings, Jimmie, Ann Webb and Joe, behind the barber’s chair, the barbershop has maintained its storied place in the community.

Then, at the appointed time on the eve of Christmas Eve, Joe turned the door sign over to “closed” and, with a collective sigh, the Stinson siblings brought an era to an end.

“I’ll always remember the sweet smell of Daddy’s shop,” Jimmie said. “That’s such a fond memory – the smell of the barber’s tonic, the shampoo and the talc. It was a unique smell, like nothing you can experience today.”

Being a girl, Jimmie didn’t spend a lot of time in the barbershop, but she remembers vividly the times she did spend there.

“I’d run in to get a quarter to go to the picture show, just down the street,” she said. “For that quarter, I could see the picture show and get a bag of popcorn and a Coca-Cola. Some days after school, I took piano lessons and dance lessons in town. When my lessons were over, I would go to the barbershop so I could ride home with Daddy. On those days, I got to be a city girl for a little while because I usually rode the bus.”

Jimmie said even after she was married and teaching, she looked forward to coming back home to see her Daddy.

“The shop was a special place for me,” she said.

As the middle child, Ann said her visits to the barbershop were not as often but oh, so, memorable.

“Daddy was amazing,” she said. “He could cut a perfect flattop and he did it free-handed. Each hair would stand straight up and every hair would be the exact same length. Jimmie said she could tell which boys had flattops cut by our Daddy.”

Ann said her dad was a man of many abilities.

“He could burn off warts,” she said. “He would heat the stub of pencil and burn off warts for people that asked. He bought a pecan cracker and cracked pecans for people.”

The barbershop was also the place to go to catch up on the news.

“It was worse than a beauty shop,” Ann said, laughing. “Daddy did more listening but he didn’t hesitate to comment. Every politician that ran for any office, made a stop at the barbershop. I have fond memories of the barbershop.”

Joe was the youngest of the children, but being a boy, he was more firmly rooted in the barbershop.

“I started shining shoes at the barbershop when I was in third grade,” he said. “I shined shoes until I was in the ninth grade. Then, Daddy woke me up one morning and told me to get up. He had lost a barber and he needed one and I was it.”

Young Joe went to work in his dad’s barbershop confident in his ability to cut hair, shave and give a good shampoo.

“Being around the barbershop for so long, I’d picked up on how things were done,” Joe said. “Some men would come in and say, ‘I’ll just wait for Earl’ but some of them would get in my chair. Ray Burton was my first customer. He came in and all the chairs were busy so he got in my chair.”

Joe had not started to shave himself but his dad trusted him to use a straight razor on his customers.

“I worked at the barbershop through college,” he said. “But I didn’t want to be a barber and make a dollar a haircut. But those dollar haircuts had put Jimmie, Ann and me through college.  We appreciated that and we appreciated our daddy and the kind of man he was.”

Joe said closing the barbershop after 70 years was not an easy decision.

“It was a part of our family for all those years. Daddy and Mother made it work, so it’s bittersweet,” he said. “It’s just time for us to do what retired people do. But we’ve had a ball working together in Stinson’s Barbershop on Main Street in Brundidge. We’ll miss it, I’m sure but we’re all so glad we did it for Daddy and Mother and for us.”