TALKING SHOP: Ledford reflects on 42 years as barber
Published 3:00 am Tuesday, August 13, 2019
All was quiet at Raymond’s Barbershop, except for the passing of vehicles along busy South Brundidge Street. But only for a few seconds.
Then, the banter that has attracted customers and loafers to Raymond Ledford’s barbershop for 42 years wound back up and it was business as usual.
With the comb in his left hand and the clippers in the right and hair a-flying, Ledford was telling how he chased his meal with Texas Pete hot sauce.
“I hadn’t been able to talk all day,” Ledford said, all the while keeping pace with the buzzing clippers. “The waitress came and plopped a bottle of hot sauce down right by my plate. Nobody has asked for hot sauce but the Lord sent it me to pick me up so I could eat … and talk.”
Ledford told how shots of Texas Pete had him talking and eating in no time. He added a tag something about carrying hot pepper in his pocket but it was lost in the laughter.
That’s the way days go at Raymond’s Barber and Style Shop.
And, it has been that way since Ledford opened the doors to his barbershop on Wednesday, August 5, 1977.
“Forty-two years, right here, right in this spot,” Ledford said. And, he wasn’t talking about just in the same building he has occupied for those 42 years. He also meant the heavily worn spot on the concrete floor around his barber’s chair that marks his dedication to his job for four decades and counting. “That’s a lot of tine standing in one spot but it’s been a happy place. It’s still a happy place.”
Ledford learned to “barber” at the Baptist Children’s Home in Troy. He arrived as eight-year-old and, for him, the Children’s Home quickly became his home and it set the course for his life’s work.
“I was a sophomore at in high school when I learned to cut hair,” Ledford said. “I started working with Junior Byrd at his barbershop in downtown Christmas that year. Then, I started working with Junior every Saturday and during the summer. When I got in the DO program, diversified occupation program, I worked in the afternoons. We gave flattops – G.I. haircuts — and regular haircuts. That worked for everybody because that’s what everybody wanted.”
When Ledford graduated high school, went fulltime with Junior Byrd and work for him 14 years before he opened his own barbershop.
Ledford said he had no reservations about going out on his own.
“I knew what I could do and it was what I wanted to do – cut hair,” he said.
When it comes to barbering, Ledford’s nose has always been “on the grinding rock.”
“Junior cut hair left handed and I knew if he could do it, I could do it,” Ledford said. “So, I learned to cut with my left hand because what I saw with my eye went to the brain.”
With a bit of glint in his eye but a serious look, Ledford said, “If you do something three times, that a scientific method and you’ve proved it. I proved I could use the clippers with my left hand.”
Ledford said, early on, he learned two things about barbering. Don’t gossip and listen to your customers.
“I had a man in the chair and I was saying something about this woman,” he said. “Later, I learned it was his sister. I said, well, if he comes back and beats me slam to death, leave him alone and let me lay there like a dog. I deserve it.”
So, Ledford just talks hunting and fishing and he talks it a lot and he listens to his customers just about as often.
Ledford laughed telling how Keith Snider told him he wanted his hair cut.
“Keith said to cut up as close to his ear as I could on one side but leave it long round the other ear and block his hair off in the back,” Ledford said. “I told Keith I couldn’t cut hair like that. He said, ‘well, you did the last time!’”
Ledford’s barbershop is more than a place for a haircut. It’s a place where friends gather to share their stories and their lives. For 42 years, Raymond Ledford has carved his niche in the town he calls home,
He gives credit for his success in business to his love of barbering and his happiness to his family and friends.
“Being a barber has never been a job,” he said. “And, I’ve never had to grow up so I haven’t had to grow old. I work hard and then I go hunting and fishing and riding around and going out to eat with my wife, Cherry. I’m a happy man.”