Lessons learned from a Scottsboro barber

I was in Scottsboro with time to kill and found myself at Eddie’s Styling & Barber Shop. Walking inside was like going back in time.

Long mirrors hung on 70s-era dark wood paneling, covered in vintage baseball pennants and clever sayings. The one that caught my eye said, “Your life is a gift from God. What you do with it is your gift to God.”

Eddie started cutting as I asked about his life. He told me he’d been in that building since ’77, but he’d been cutting hair since ’57. I was there the day after he’d turned 80. I wanted to know what the secret to that was.

“Well you just get up, get your britches on and get after it – but now I never did drink or smoke, and I played ball all my life.” Eddie motioned to a framed picture of a baseball team. The bottom read Scottsboro 1967.

He went back to cutting and told me how he got started.

“I had seven brothers. Daddy cut our hair with clippers. Once I got a little older, I started cutting the younger ones’ hair. Pretty soon friends and neighbors wanted me to cut theirs.” He laughed and said “I’d set ’em up on a stack of Coca-Cola crates.”

“One day me and a buddy went to the barber shop to hang out, and a kid in there said ‘Let Eddie cut my hair.’  So I did, and the barber said, ‘How about coming down here and helping me on Saturdays?’”

I asked if he was married. He said, “Yes sir. Fifty years! Let me show you something.”

He went to the back and came out with the sign that hung in the window on their big day. It said “Closed to celebrate 50th Wedding Anniversary. Be back tomorrow … If I’m able.”

We laughed together. I said, “What’s the secret to marriage?” Eddie said, “Obedience.”

Young men ramble. Old men say it all with one word.

The door chimed. Another old-timer came in. He took a seat next to us as Eddie pointed him out in the ’67 Scottsboro lineup.

They went through rest of the picture together. One player went on to play “pro-ball” for the St. Louis Cardinals. One had tried out for the Kansas City Athletics.

The one in a white hat was their star pitcher. His special was called “the Green Apple.”  The old timer said, “It was supposed to be a breaking ball, but it never did break much.”

Some in the picture were no longer with us. Some hadn’t been heard from in years. Some still came to Eddie’s to get their haircut.

As he finished mine, I thanked him and said, “It sounds like you’ve lived a good life.” Eddie said, “I have.  Lord’s been good to me. I’ve made a lot of friends and cut a lot of hair.”

I paid, shook hands, and walked back to my truck thinking when his time comes, God’s really going to like the gift Eddie gave him.

Stults is a performing songwriter from Russellville.

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