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The Carolina Barber Shop - Chapel Hill's Community Center

by Charly Mann

In March of 1973 The Carolina Barber Shop which was located at 131 East Franklin Street closed. It had been the oldest operating business downtown, opening its doors 55 years earlier in January of 1918 under the ownership of barber P.R. Perry. Now that it was gone Lacock's Shoe Shop, operated by 83 year old Wilson Lacock, became the senior business on the block. During the same month The Tar Heel Barber Shop located at the corner of Franklin and Henderson which had started in 1927 also closed.

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Comments:

Marshall Stewart, III      6:45 PM Thu 2/9/2012

My grandfather, Marshall Stewart, started, along with his partner (I think his name was Jack), the "Tar Heel Barbershop, in 1926, next to the Rathskeller. They had two chairs and my grandfather said he cut Andy Griffith's hair, the week before he went on the Ed Sullivan's show. (he told me, Griffith's wife waited in the barbershoop while he cut his hair)

My grandfather retired, sometime in the early sixties, because of arthritis (which I now suffer)
 

Retta      3:01 PM Mon 1/23/2012

Hey, subtle must be your mdidle name. Great post!
 

Sue Whitaker      2:29 PM Mon 1/23/2012

Red Marley's daughters were Beth & Kay Marley & they lived on Short Street. Kay was a good friend of mine. They graduated from CHHS around 1964. Funny I used to go over to Kay's house all the time & I never heard her father say three words.
 

Charly Mann      2:57 PM Sat 1/21/2012

Hello Jake - Mack Snipes was my favorite barber. He owned another one of the popular barbershops on Franklin Street until about about 1970 when he "retired" and moved to a smaller location below Hectors.

Mack was a charming man and a brilliant story-teller. As I recall he lived on a farm outside of Chapel Hill.
 

jake      1:42 PM Sat 1/21/2012

Let's not forget Mack Snipes, whose barber shop was downstairs below Hector's on the corner of Franklin and Henderson Streets. MDWVQYOany local politicians observed a custom of getting their hair cut by Mack at the beginning of any electoral campaign they might be starting. He kept his prices very low and never went over two dollars until he closed shop sometime in the early eighties, I believe.
 

Bill A      3:37 PM Thu 1/19/2012

Ah, the Chapel Hill Barber Shops. Might have darkened to door of one or two in the first half of the 60s - but generally got my haircuts at a barber college in Durham. The price was right for a guy working his way through school - if you got a rookie barber! As I recall, the closer the student barber was to graduation, the more you paid for a cut - but always somewhat less than at one of the CH shops. Had almost forgotten about this ...
 

Clinton Kelly      12:34 PM Wed 1/18/2012

I got my first haircut there - but not from Red. My first was by Mr. Cannon, for whom Red then worked at the Carolina Barbershop. Mr. Cannon had a habit of popping kids (don't know about adults) on the head with his comb to command obedience. From that day forward, no one but Red cut my hair until I left town for high school. Red did cut my brother's hair from his first until Red retired (excluding my borther's his days away from CH in high school and in the Army).
 

David McGowan      3:50 PM Sun 1/15/2012

I won't mention the year, but my first lock of hair hit the Carolina Barber Shop floor due to the nimble fingers and sharp scissors of Red Marley. I was too young to remember that first haircut, but many a Saturday morning growing up I spent waiting my turn in "the chair" while dad and the other local men solved the world's problems or discussed what the football team needed to do to win in Kenan Stadium later that day. Curls of white smoke from Red's cigar floated upward while curls of hair from the heads of my boyhood friends floated downward. The men would talk. Red would point with his scissors to empathize a point he was making. Boys would fidget. His comb swept through hair with the grace of a dancer. Then came the unmistakeable hum of his clippers against the back of the neck. You were done. The fragrant puff of white powder around your ears and like a matador teasing a charging bull, the long white sheet that once covered your body was whipped away and Red's voice echoed "next" even though it wasn't necessary. Franklin Street has never been the same.
Good memories, Charley.
 

Dianne Thompson Rolwing      10:04 AM Sun 1/15/2012


I didn't know much about the barber shop but I sure bought a lot of Weejuns from Mr. Lacock. To be such a small shop, he sure had about every kind of Weejun you wanted. I remember I wanted the kind of Weejun that looked pebblely. They didn't have my size, so I bought a size smaller because I thought they were soooo cool. My feet sure hurt but the Weejuns were the latest in style so I endured the pain.
 

Dave Kistler      4:47 PM Sat 1/14/2012

I'm not sure I ever went there, but as a 5 or 6 yo probably did.

I do remember going to the Tar Heel Barbershop, when I was in Junior High, and seeing Coach Dooley in there, hanging out and reading the paper.

The pic of the chair, my Mother-In-Law, a Hackney from Carrboro, has her Dad's chair (Jesse, who had a barber shop in Carrboro) in her basement.

I remember one time going to the barbershop with my brother Donald. We asked Dad what type of haircut should we get. He said, tell the barber you want a crew cut. We had no idea what that was. Basically, shaved. Our Dad played a not too funny joke on us.

Thanks for the memories, Charly.
 

Jim Heavner      9:36 AM Fri 1/13/2012

I absolutely remember Red Marley. He was never my barber, though. For some reason, I went to Bill Colville, a wonderful fellow, but very overweight. I think he called it Chapel Hill Barber Shop. Bill was a product of the state orphanage and did well by himself.

His barber shop sponsored the baseball games on WCHL. Bill had a great sense of humor, so we tried to make his spots funny.

He moved from the old frame house that ultimately gave way to University Baptist Church expansion to the brand new University Square. Somehow, I remember that we opened his commercial with something like, “So, the fellow walked into Chapel Hill Barber Shop and asked Barber Bill Colville, “Is this University Square?”

And Barber Bill, answered, “Well, not really, but it slows down around 9:00 every night.”

Then, we recorded all of the barbers laughing (there were 4, I think), so they could hear themselves on the radio. It was actually a funny spot and got a lot of attention to the barber shop.

-0-0-

You recall correctly that the barbers were done in by the changing, long-haired times. I think that was a greater influence than rising rents on reducing the barber business. Then, when did men start going to places where women cut their hair? I don’t think I ever that , but I think that was also a big factor down line.

Bill has died.

The last barber I knew was George, the Barber at Tar Heel Barber Shop, in Rams Plaza downstairs on the Rosemary Street side. George has also died.

Then, it came to pass that I now no longer need a barber for a completely different reason. There’s not much to cut, so I just run the clippers over my head a couple of times a week. Ah, well.
 

Jim Griffiths      8:20 PM Thu 1/12/2012

I was too late to experience the kind of barber shop you describe but it sounds wonderful. Do you think there is an equivalent to that kind of community experience today?
 

Bob Jurgensen      4:07 PM Thu 1/12/2012

I remember Red Marley very well - he gave me my first "off site" haircut ever. I was very fearful of that first encounter, as I recall, at the age of about 6. You see my grandmother cared for me up to about first grade and she always gave me my haircuts. She operated "Nonnie's Beauty Nook" out of the back of her home on Rosemary St, a three chair shop almost directly across from the Shack. Mrs. Marley, in fact, worked for her as a beautician. The Marley's lived across the street from her, next to the Shack.

At the age of 6 I recall being somewhat embarrassed having my hair cut in a beauty shop and expressed concern to my grandmother that I wanted to go to a barbershop, much to her chagrin. So she marched me up to Red's shop on Franklin and watched me get my first haircut; as I recall it was about .25 back then (1955.) And yes, Red always always was chewing on a cigar but I don't recall it being lit.

I had my hair cut there for many years, in fact. You always manage to come up with suppressed memories lingering in the back of my brain somewhere, long ago forgotten. Thanks for writing this article Charley.
 

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Bite Sized Facts Link



Chapel Hill is located on a hill whose only distinguishing feature in the 18th century was a small chapel on top called New Hope Chapel. This church was built in 1752 and is currently the location of The Carolina Inn. The town was founded in 1819, and chartered in 1851.

 

 

What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls. or the crisp October nights. No, our love for this place is based upon the fact that it is as it was meant to be, The University of the People.

-- Charles Kuralt

 

 

Dark Side of the Hill -- Pink Floyd, the creators of the most popular album in history, Dark Side of the Moon, took the second half of their name from Floyd Council, a Chapel Hill native, and great blues singer and guitarist. He once belonged to a group called "The Chapel Hillbillies".

 

 

Check out Charly Mann's other website:
Oklahoma Birds and Butterflies

http://oklahomabirdsandbutterflies.com

 



We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

There would probably be no Chapel Hill if the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees in 1793 had not chosen land across from New Hope Chapel for the location of the university. By 1800 there were about 100 people living in thirty houses surrounding the campus.

 

 

The University North Carolina's first student was Hinton James, who enrolled in February, 1795. There is now a dormitory on the campus named in his honor.

 

 

 

 

The University of North Carolina was closed from 1870 to 1875 because of lack of state funding.

 

 

 

 

William Ackland left his art collection and $1.25 million to Duke University in 1940 on the condition that he would be buried in the art museum that the University was to build with his bequest. Duke rejected this condition even though members of the Duke Family are buried in Duke Chapel. What followed was a long and acrimonious legal battle between Ackland relatives who now wanted the inheritance, Rollins College, and the University of North Carolina, each attempting to receive the funds. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and in 1949 UNC was awarded the money for the museum. Ackland is buried near the museum's entrance. When the museum first opened, in the early sixties, there were rumors that his remains were leaking out of the mausoleum.

 

 

The official name of the Arboretum on the University of North Carolina campus is the Coker Arboretum. It is named after Dr. William Cocker, the University's first botany professor. It occupies a little more than five acres. It was founded in 1903.

 

 

Chapel Hill's main street has always been called Franklin Street. It was named after Benjamin Franklin in the early 1790s.

 

 



We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.

 

 

Chapel Hill High School and Chapel Hill Junior High were on Franklin Street in the same location as University Square until the mid 1960s.

 

 

The Colonial Drug Store at 450 West Franklin Street was owned and operated by John Carswell. It was famous for a fresh-squeezed carbonated orange beverage called a "Big O". In the early 1970s, I managed the Record and Tape Center next door, and must have had over 100 of those drinks. The Colonial Drug Store closed in 1996.

 

 

Sutton's Drugstore, which opened in 1923, has one of the last soda fountains in the South. It is one of the few businesses remaining on Franklin Street that was in operation when I was growing up in the 1950s.

 

 

Future President Gerald Ford lived in Chapel Hill twice. First when he was 24, in 1938, he took a law couse in summer school at UNC. He lived in the Carr Building, which was a law school dormitory. At the same time, Richard Nixon, the man he served under as Vice President, was attending law school at Duke. In 1942, Ford returned to Chapel Hill to attend the U.S. Navy's Pre-Flight School training program. He lived in a rental house on Hidden Hills Drive.

 

 

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