The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

May 21, 2013

Barber shows no signs of cutting career short

(Continued)

Smith lives right behind the shop with his wife, Geraldine, who walks over Smith’s lunch every day.

“Some days I feel 88, but I’m in good health,” Smith said. “Clean living. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink and I don’t chase girls ... well, I don’t have to anymore.”

Geraldine joked that since her husband used to shear sheep with his father as a kid on his family’s farm 12 miles south of Ottumwa, that’s likely where he got the idea to become a barber.

Today, a $10 bill can get you a haircut and his smooth, clean shave will cost you $4. When he opened up shop, a haircut only cost a customer 75 cents.

Since he began, though, the leather used to polish the blade and the shaving brush used to lather the soap on the customer’s face have both been outlawed due to concerns about germs spreading between customers.

After lathering up Stocker’s chin, Smith heated up a towel and wrapped it around Stocker’s entire face for a couple of minutes in order to soften the beard.

“We had a guy in barber college who cut someone so bad they had to be taken to the hospital,” Smith said with a grin as he slid the razor along Stocker’s cheek.

But customers need not worry about any slip-ups from Smith. His hands are unfaltering, skillfully sliding the razor along face after face as he’s done for nearly six decades. He did say, though, that the hardest place to shave is right under the person’s nose.

Smith then patted some aftershave lotion on Stocker’s face.

“That makes him smell good so he can get in the house when he gets home,” quipped another customer awaiting his turn in the chair, Joe Miller Sr.

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