1940s barber shop gets new home

Published 11:27 am Saturday, February 11, 2012

An operator for David White Crane Service in Hunterdale lifts a former Newsoms-area barbershop so it can be transported to Southampton Agriculture & Forestry Museum. -- GWEN ALBERS | TIDEWATER NEWS

NEWSOMS—A piece of Newsoms history will be preserved in Courtland.

The former Sands barber shop was recently moved to the Southampton Heritage Village/Agriculture & Forestry Museum, where it will be preserved.

Marilyn Bertrand and Nancy Matthews, daughters of the original owners, the late Joe and Sarah Parker, donated the wood-frame building to the museum.

The Parker had the Sands barber shop built around 1940 next to their country store at Statesville and Sands roads, said Lynda Updike, president of the Southampton County Historical Society.

Jessie Story was the only barber who ever worked there. The Parkers never charged him rent, Updike said.

Story farmed nearby for Lee Thorpe during the week, and when he got off at noon on Saturday, he cut hair and shaved his customers as long as there were folks waiting in line.

“There was no running water, but he kept an enamel pan filled with water on a kerosene or wood stove,” Updike said. “There was also no electricity, so he used kerosene lamps to see after the sun went down.”

A shave and a haircut was 25 cents, but went up to 50 cents, she said. A haircut was 15 cents.

“He used a razor strap, pronounced ‘strop,’ to keep his razor sharpened because his customers didn’t shave very often,” Updike said. “He used straight razors, one of which has been donated to the museum, and hand clippers since there was no electricity.

Story operated the barber shop until the early 1950s.

Museum officials plan to place the barber shop on the museum grounds with it facing the one-room schoolhouse. They have a barber chair and barber pole for the shop.

Sarah Bertrand of Richmond, the 32-year-old granddaughter of the Parkers and daughter of Marilyn and Frank Bertrand of Sands, donated a straight razor.

Sarah Bertrand, who like her cousin, Gwen Johnson of Boykins, as a child spent a lot of time on their grandparents’ farm.

“Half of my childhood was spent here,” Johnson said. “It was like the hub of the family.”

Updike and Johnson’s mother, Nancy Matthews, used to play house in the old barber shop.

Updike for years had hoped to get the barbershop for the museum.

“I’m elated about getting it,” she said. “I always say all we need at the museum is a barber shop.”