html 4.0 transitional//en"> When barbershops were barbershops

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When barbershops were barbershops

While going through some old newspaper clippings I came across a Bulletin column titled "EVERGREEN, established by T. R. Havins." The writer is not named and the entire column was about by barber dad, Britt Edward Towery, Sr. Had my father lived, he would be 101 this coming July. The column will introduce a new generation to the barber shop world that has just about vanished. I am sharing the column just as it was first published somewhere between 1958 and 1960:

"Britt Towery's profession demands a glib tongue, understanding ears and skillful hands. He has been a barber in Brownwood for more than 42 years and is still going strong.

"Towery apparently has the ability to please a customer with a haircut and while doing so, converse with him about numerous topics.

"Today he talks with Ph.D's, medical doctors, newspaper editors, businessmen, ministers, police officers, drunks, school boys and numerous others.

"He represents typical American initiative and drive by operating a `one-man' shop in Brownwood. Though his philosophy may seem strange to some, it obviously has the `barbershop flavor.'

"Some people have the idea Towery engages in `friendly arguments' with customers to stimulate the conversation. That may be true. A boyhood friend of the Towery's son, Joe B. Swan of Dallas, formerly public relations director at Howard Payne College, frequently gets his haircut at the local barber's shop and usually gets `shaved' so close it burns. When Swan and Towery have engaged in `debates' about numerous topics, one wonders if this might be the last discussion. But Swan still comes back.

"Most of the customers apparently enjoy "Toweryisms" -- those comments made by Britt which causes one to wonder if he really means what he says or just talks to cause bewilderment.

"Towery and his wife, who reside at 309 Fourth St., have educated two children at Howard Payne College. His son, Britt, Jr., is a Southern Baptist missionary to Taiwan, and his daughter, Doris (Mrs. Paul Goodwin), is the wife of a church music director.

"Barbering is just `a job' to Towery, who has been a resident of Brownwood since 1901 when he arrived here with his parents from Clarksville, Texas. He didn't go to barbers' college as today's young barbers do. Towery just began cutting hair and later received his license.

"On occasions, Dr. Guy D. Newman, president of Howard Payne College, has visited Towery's business. Towery jibes verbal blasts at Dr. Newman who apparently takes the facetious remarks in stride.

"But Towery has caught some jibes himself from close friends about his conduct in dealing with Dr. Newman's brother-in-law, Lloyd Womack, an executive with Southwestern States Telephone Company.

"Towery charges Womack `full price' for a haircut, despite the fact that he has less hair than some of his fellow males. The barber only chuckles when confronted with this and remarks that everybody must pay the same no matter how much hair they have.

"Barber Towery and his wife rarely miss worship services at First Baptist Church where they are longtime members. He is a Mason and she is a member of the Eastern Star.

"The other day Towery's wife came into his shop and told him she had deposited a nickel in a nearby parking meter but did not think she would leave the automobile parked for the full hour.

"Towery, seeing several customers in his shop who has ribbed him about his frugality, told his wife, `You'll have to wait until that meter runs out before you move the car.'

"Did his wife follow his admonition? Shortly later she left the shop for the car and those few remaining minutes on the meter were left for some other patron.

"Towery had a slight grin on his face as his wife made her exit . . . and continued cutting a customer's hair."


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