This is a memory made every 10 days. [It was for me anyway.] That’s how often I’d visit Charlotte at her tiny barbershop across the street from the AP office. I sport a tight buzzcut and 10 days is about the amount of time I can go before I need Charlotte to knock it back with the #2 setting on her trimmers. I’d walk in and make a joke about how out of control my hair had gotten since I’d seen her last, and she’d humor me with a laugh as if she’d never heard it before.
Every 10 days for the last 10 years, I’d sit and Charlotte would give me the lowdown on her two favorite things: Santa Ana and Jesus. She was an expert on both. And she was a really good person. There are a lot of examples of this, but my favorite one was when she would give me a scalp massage she’d tell me my hair was coming back–which was one of the nicest things anyone could say to me. I’d chuckle and tell her I wasn’t too sure about that, but if anybody could do it was her.
At 82, Charlotte had been in the DTSA mix for 58 years, since 1960 when she bought her tiny shop for $500. When I say tiny, I mean teeny tiny. Charlotte’s Barbershop was attached to an old theater, in what must have been the ticket booth. She only had room for a small bench and two old-school barber chairs – one for customers, the other for reading the paper and nodding off. The shop had no running water, no working phone, and other than Charlotte herself, no frills whatsoever.
Charlotte was old-school for sure. She didn’t have the steady hands anymore, but that didn’t keep her from finishing you up with a straight razor of questionable sharpness. And it didn’t keep me from going to her. Walking away with the occasional bit of bloody tissue paper was part of the Charlotte experience, and I felt it was worth it.
I’m going miss Charlotte. A lot. And for more than the haircuts. Hell, anybody can give me this cut – I can even do it myself. I’ll miss her because she was a lovely person. And I knew that every time I went in she’d have something for me that would make my day better. Sometimes I even went in before my 10 days were up, and she’d say “You were just here.” But it was worth way more than the $10 to just sit in her chair and soak up some Charlotte for 20 minutes.
Charlotte looked after several of us at the agency: Greg Jason (#1 on the sides, #2 on top), Jonathan Brown (#2 on the sides, leave the length on top), Collin Whitley (#2 on the sides, #4 on top), to name a few. She even tackled Jon Gothold’s (scissors only) majestic mane for years – no small feat. Jason Penning (#0 all over) almost got to experience Charlotte’s other calling: Matchmaker. For months she said had a nice girl from the church that she wanted to introduce him to. I have no doubt that girl would have changed Jason‘s life. Recently, Jason found someone on his own to change his life, and Charlotte was thrilled to hear it. All she ever wanted was for everybody be happy. And for the approximately 182 hours she cut my hair, I was.