Carroll Dale Short

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A Great Barber is a Treasure

By Dale Short

I'm picky about barbers. Always have been.

Even when I was a little kid, I made such a fuss whenever I got my hair cut that several local barbers designated me as a “customer non-grata.” Unfortunately, most of these barbers were my uncles.


When I left college and moved back to Shanghi, Alabama, I got lucky and found a barber not too far away--on Highway 78 just past Graysville. His name was Butch, and he was outstanding. For almost two decades, I would go to nobody else, even if it meant that I would come home from long out-of-town business trips looking like a sheepdog.

To make him even more priceless, Butch also cut my pre-school son's hair for a good while (Donovan basically hated haircuts as much as I did) and never even charged a hazardous-duty fee or filed assault charges, which was way beyond the call of duty.

Then, I took a job at The Birmingham News and we moved to Birmingham. My work schedule there didn't jibe with Butch's, so I looked around for a new barber. I found one just across Red Mountain, who was so close to downtown I could get a haircut on my lunch hour.

His name was Butch. This barber/client relationship rocked along nicely for some 12 years or so, until Butch and his wife moved up North to be nearer their grandchildren.

Bereft of the ideal hair-cutter again, I looked around town and discovered that Butch the First had recently moved his shop from Graysville to just across Red Mountain in Homewood. Serendipity, for sure.

But then, when we moved to Jasper, all bets were off. Butch the First was more than an hour away, and Butch the Second was a full day's drive away--as the crow flies, and with a good tailwind besides.

I despondently and half-heartedly scouted around Jasper for barbers, up until the point that somebody in a shopping center mistook me for Ted Kaczynski, and I realized that something had to give.

Fortunately, that was also the day I saw the sign for Steve Earnest's Barber Shop, on Old 78 out near Union Chapel, and decided to roll the dice, hair-wise. The choice turned out to be fortuitous, to say the least.

I suspected that I had found a kindred spirit when Steve told me, “I don't do any of these new, fancy cuts. My philosophy is, if you've got something on your head and you don't want it there, I can sure enough take it off.”

And just as a bonus, his barber shop is partly a historical museum. The walls are covered with framed pictures from Walker County's past century, and he's adding new ones regularly.

He enjoys riding a motorcycle as much I did, before I got too old.
And he's as amazed as I am, about how quickly computers have taken over the world: “I tell you one thing,” Steve says, “I'm just thankful the little son-of-a-guns can't cut hair.”

If his name was Butch, he'd be perfect. But he's doggoned good.

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