A few weeks ago, my husband invited me to join him on a trip to town to run errands and eat lunch together. One of the to-dos on our list that day was to stop by Barber Dan’s barbershop in Desha, Arkansas. Even though this barbershop was not conveniently located in relation to our home, my husband continued to remain loyal to Barber Dan because of the quality and consistency of the service at his shop.
I honestly never understood why he felt compelled to drive so far and spend so much extra time and gas money for a $10 hair cut and shave. After sitting in the hard-backed chair reading the classified ads, affording me the opportunity to be a fly on the wall for a while, I understood.
First of all, let me just say that I was completely fascinated by the entire barbershop experience. It’s completely different from a typical salon, and as a woman, I’d obviously only had salon experiences. I’d never stepped foot in a real barbershop. I’d never smelled the hot soap spilling out of the dispenser. I’d never watched a barber work meticulously and fluidly and rapidly, not missing a beat or snipping in error. I’d never seen my husband getting shaved with a straight edge razor.
But more importantly, I had no idea what kind of subculture the atmosphere of a barbershop conjures up. I had never listened to so many elderly men discussing everyday life with such depth of insight and amusing perspectives on things. I’d never seen a customer, at a salon or any place, walk into a shop and begin sweeping up excess clippings from the floor as a simple friendly gesture to help. I have rarely met someone like Barber Dan who ran his business with ease and seemed to genuinely enjoy himself on the job.
After my husband had paid for his haircut, and we headed to lunch, I remarked at what a great experience I’d had and how fascinated I felt by the subculture of barbershops.
“I wish I’d brought my camera! I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded if I’d taken a few pictures. Oh well, next time.”
There won’t be a next time, though. Barber Dan closed his shop a week later due to a personal illness.
I’m grateful I had the opportunity to gain insight into my husband’s strong preference for barbershops versus salons. Most of all, I’m grateful for the opportunity to see a great man at work and get a glimpse of the great American barbershop tradition. Like all good things in life, I don’t know how long I’ll have them. But I plan to make the most of them while I can. And next time, I’ll take pictures.
Although you pinned this over two years ago I need to tell you what a blessing this article has been to me. I have read and re-read it many times. Barber Dan is my Daddy. On August 10. 2012 he gave his last haircut right there in that barbershop because he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 60 days later, October 10, 2012 The Lord took him home. For most of my life I failed to appreciate what quality, Godly examples I had been blessed with as parents. Now, I love hearing other people’s perspective and memories of Daddy. Your writing is precious to my heart and I just wanted to express my appreciation.
Dana, you are welcome. I’m glad that God used Barber Dan in so many people’s lives, and I’m so thankful He let me meet him before he closed his shop so that I could write this article. May God continue to bless and comfort your family.
You were about a mile from my house if that!!
Dan epitomized the words of the song “You will know we are Christians by our love.” Dan was truly a great man!
I have heard that from people who knew him well, and I got that feeling from him the day I met him. The world needs more people just like him.
so sad to hear this news…there will never be another barber like him!!
I agree, Mary. Praying for his family who I know will appreciate it.
Barber Dan and I have swapped many a deer and turkey hunting story.I appreciate those times Barber Dan. The only thing he is better at than clipping hair is being a fine christian man and, an outstanding deacon. Thanks, Barber Dan, for being my deacon.
Thanks for the article. There is absolutely no one like my Uncle Dan the Barber Man!
You are very welcome!
Thank you Teresa! Please don’t stop praying!
I always took my little red headed boy (8 now) to Dan’s, for some reason we quit going for a while, took him back about a month age, told my husband I wasn’t taking him any where else but Dan’s, so about 4 days before school started I told little red we’ve got to go visit Dan, needless to say the next day I had heard of Dan’s illness, he is truly a remarkable man and a barber.. ..the Moody family are in our prayers..
I know the family will appreciate all our prayers.
He IS a swell guy and an even better Daddy!
Dana, I’ll be praying for your dad and family!
Thank you! We appreciate ALL prayers for healing of my sweet Daddy; Barber Dan!
good read Bethany! sure brings back memories of all those times I spent in a barbershop! thanks for sharing……I’ll look forward to pictures next time! 🙂
He is definitely a great guy!
Sounds like a swell guy – any relation to Lieutenant Dan?