The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

May 21, 2013

Barber shows no signs of cutting career short

OTTUMWA — Darrell Smith’s hands are steady and sure as he picks up his clippers and straight razor to begin his first haircut and shave of the day.

Smith, 88, has cut hair for 62 years and has owned Smitty’s Barber Shop on Albia Road for the past 58 years, but he doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon.

“I haven’t gotten around to it yet,” he said.

Smith sees around 15 customers a day, most of them regulars. His straight-razor style of shaving which was so common at barber shops in the early 20th century has since fallen out of fashion except at those shops, like Smith’s, that have survived to this day.

May marks Older Americans Month, the theme of which is “Unleash the Power of Age!” this year. The month of appreciation, sponsored by the Seneca Area Agency on Aging, emphasizes the important role older adults play in everyone’s lives.

After coming home from serving in the U.S. Army during the Cold War, Smith decided to use the G.I. Bill to fund his education at barber school.

He went to the American College of Hairstyling for barbering in Des Moines in 1951, graduating after six months of school and an 18-month apprenticeship at a barber shop on Church Street. The building was built in 1927 and was a Shell gas station up until Smith converted it into the barber shop in 1955.

Earl Stocker, 82, has been coming to Smitty’s for 10 years and said he comes back again and again because the shave feels good and lasts a long time — and the conversation doesn’t hurt either.

“My dad was a barber, and he used to shave me with a straight razor,” Stocker said. “We talk politics, religion, everything else. We solve some of the world’s greatest problems right here. The U.N. should come to us for answers.”

Text Only
Local News
  • 0723 OTT Grass photo -L -T Is your grass too tall? OTTUMWA — Do you let your grass grow to 12 inches before it's mowed? Do you park a vehicle in your front yard on the grass? If you answered yes to either of those questions, you could be violating the Make Ottumwa Shine Committee’s proposed amendment

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill OK'd for data recovery OTTUMWA — Almost a month ago, the city’s Engineering Department’s server failed. After receiving and installing the necessary parts, attempts to restart the server failed, resulting in a drive being shipped to Data Recovery Services in St. Louis in h

    July 21, 2014

  • Man killed in Wapello County BLOOMFIELD — A man was discovered dead Monday of a gunshot wound in rural Wapello County. However, no further danger related to the shooting is expected. Authorities aren't giving full details of the incident, but a press release said that at 1:21 a.

    July 21, 2014

  • Forensic scientist: Residue doesn't determine who fired gun DAVENPORT — A forensic scientist who testified today in the trial of a Wapello County man accused of murdering his wife said that gun residue should be collected if possible. Seth Techel, 23, is on trial in Scott County, Davenport. He faces charges o

    July 21, 2014

  • Welding academy at Cardinal becomes reality ELDON — Many high school seniors find themselves making the decision to pursue college coursework or enter the work force upon graduation. A new program at Cardinal High School (CHS) eliminates this decision by offering courses that will allow studen

    July 21, 2014

  • 0722 stick horse color photo -L -T -M 4-H Expo encourages creatitivy OTTUMWA — Typically during the 4-H Expo, horses are kept at the horse arena in Ottumwa Park, but Saturday kids galloped around Bridge View Center on homemade stick horses. Children at the expo spent Saturday morning creating their own cowboy vest and

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gunshot victim found dead BLOOMFIELD — A man was found dead of a gunshot wound in rural Wapello County. However, no further danger related to the shooting is expected. Though authorities aren't giving full details of the incident, a press release said at 1:21 a.m. Monday the

    July 21, 2014

  • NEST program educates parents OTTUMWA — With any new job, you typically go through a training period that prepares you for the future. The Wapello County Iowa State Extension Office is offering both first-time and experienced parents helpful training through its NEST program. NES

    July 21, 2014

  • 0722 OTT hottest day map Heat arrives, but won't linger OTTUMWA — As hot as Monday and Tuesday seem, it’s not really a surprise. This is July, after all. A heat advisory went into effect at noon Monday and will remain in effect until 7 p.m. Tuesday. Forecasters think a front Tuesday night will bring much

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Witnesses: No tension between couple DAVENPORT — Two people who saw a murdered Wapello County woman with her husband the day before she died say they saw nothing unusual about the couple’s behavior. Seth Techel, 23, is on trial in Scott County, Davenport. He faces charges of first-degre

    July 21, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook