Virginia barber reflects on more than 60 years of haircuts

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NORFOLK, Va. — “One last time,” mentioned Hubert Davenport as he wrapped a barber cape around a customer’s shoulders in advance of grabbing his scissors and shears.

“One previous time,” Rand Baker, the customer, echoed with a twinge of sorrow.

A fifty percent-dozen buyers trickled into Davenport’s Barber Shop on a recent weekday afternoon to get 1 past haircut from “Mr. D.” — the person who experienced minimize their hair, their father’s hair, and in some cases, even their grandfather’s hair.

Just after 63 yrs, Davenport has stepped away from the chair in his Ocean Perspective shop, and he put in his remaining time giving last cuts — and goodbye hugs — to shoppers who he said are extra like “nephews” that he has viewed expand up, turn into prosperous, elevate households of their individual and increase previous.

Davenport, 82, stated in the case of just one family, “six generations have sat in my chair.” He named the 3rd good-grandfather down to the youngest boy as he counted, his fingers crooked from many years of keeping scissors. A image body with pictures of every era sit in a showcase so he never ever misses a name when telling the story.

Baker recounted how his father introduced him to Davenport’s when he was a boy, and he introduced his son in the several years that adopted.

“I utilised to get the flat top rated but I go away it a little more time now that I am thinning like most of us are at present,” Baker claimed, now 54. He did not even have to say what design and style he needed — he sat in the chair and Davenport obtained to work.

Davenport began his lifestyle-lengthy career in 1959 immediately after he graduated from Twillie’s Barber University in Norfolk. He was just 18 at the time and a haircut charge $1.25. The diploma, yellow and pale, nevertheless hangs on the wall at his station.

“I appear from the farms,” Davenport stated of his childhood in North Carolina. “It was incredibly hot on the farm in the summertime and cold in the winter. My father explained to me that barber shops are usually neat in the summertime and heat in the winter season. I explained that sounded like a career for me.”

Davenport at first labored at barber stores in the Riverview, Norview and Lakeland Searching Middle spots of Norfolk, working to establish up his clientele. It took him six a long time to help you save more than enough dollars to acquire his very own store in Ocean View in April 1965, which was at first in Johnson’s Square just before he relocated to 9627 Granby Avenue, a strip mall designed by W.F. “Red” Thornton Jr. right off Ocean View Avenue in 1980.

“Red was an aged shopper of mine and a good friend. He known as me a single day and advised me to decide out my area,” Davenport stated. Though he mentioned he desired the stop location, Thornton nestled the barber shop in the middle of the strip.

Thornton’s son, Billy, is among the those who have occur to Davenport for decades. He stopped by the store right after lunch just lately to get his past “Mr. D. haircut.”

“Dad explained to make positive Mr. Davenport experienced every little thing he essential,” explained Billy Thornton. “Ocean See is a very good old-fashioned neighborhood and Mr. Davenport is component of the glue that retains it with each other.”

Hubert Davenport gives a haircut at his Ocean Perspective store in 2010. (Virginian-Pilot file picture) (Preston Gannaway)

In his 6-as well as a long time, Davenport says he “has seen it all” when it comes to hairstyles.

“When I first started out we had what you referred to as the ‘boogie woogie flat top’ — which experienced the sides still left extensive. We experienced the standard businessman lower, and children’s cuts had been always near on the sides,” Davenport explained. “And then the Beatles came together.”

Youthful adults started sporting their hair for a longer period, for which Davenport suggests he went again to school to freshen up on his tactics. Then arrived the “Willoughby sting” — acknowledged to most currently as the “rat tail.”

“The boy required his hair reduce brief, but he wished to leave a thing left in the again. I referred to as it the ‘Willoughby sting’ — like the aged stingray tail,” Davenport reported.

The within of Davenport’s Barber Shop is also some thing of a museum. Pictures of navy ships, paintings from local artists and baseballs signed by barber store-sponsored youth groups line the partitions and cabinets — most gifted to him by shoppers more than the many years. Among the photographs is one of a Navy admiral shaking the hand of President George W. Bush. Along the bottom reads: “Handshake by George W. Bush haircut by Davenport’s Barber Store.”

“I minimize the admiral’s hair, but the president did not have time for me to cut his hair,” Davenport claimed with a laugh.

Around the a long time, Davenport cut hair irrespective of in which consumers could satisfy him, typically closing his shop early to make property visits.

“They ended up there for me, coming to my store and serving to me make a living, so I was there for them when they wanted me,” Davenport explained.

One such consumer was Kurt Hampe, who climbed into Davenport’s chair past week. Like for most buyers, Davenport has reduce the Hampe family’s hair for more than 30 yrs. In 1990, when Hampe was diagnosed with cancer, Davenport paid out him a healthcare facility go to, toting his kit to give Hampe a new haircut.

“You will hardly ever uncover a further Mr. D.,” mentioned Gail Hampe, Kurt’s wife. “It was a authentic touch-and-go circumstance for a when. I had occur in and talked with Mr. D. and he arrived out to the hospital immediately after that.”

As he lower Kurt’s hair, Davenport questioned about the couple’s two sons. The Hampe boys, who are 25 and 30, have experienced their hair lower by Davenport given that they were young ones.

Richard Richmond waited for just about an hour for his past haircut with Davenport. When he finally hopped in the shiny red chair, he explained “Mr. D., I did not know you were being retiring. Who is likely to minimize my hair now?”

Now in his 30s, Richmond has been coming to Davenport considering the fact that he was 5.

“I bear in mind he applied to have a toy box that appeared like a football,” Richmond claimed, prior to Davenport pointed to the similar toy box, which was moved to another corner of the shop.

“Yep, you employed to perform in that when you ended up a child. Almost certainly some of the identical toys that you performed with are nevertheless in there,” Davenport stated with a laugh.

Just before Richmond left, Davenport gave him a hug and instructed him how happy he was of him.

Even though Davenport is retiring, the store will not solely near. A new barber will take more than Davenport’s station. Right after receiving multiple gives, Davenport determined to promote the business enterprise to Dante Abitria, who owns Springs Barber Shop on Diamond Springs Highway in Virginia Seaside.

“I selected the one particular that needed to proceed this as a community barber store. I could have marketed to a feller who wanted to improve the within and jack the selling prices way up, but I did not want to do that. The great Lord sent me the right one — so that is why I offered,” Davenport stated.

Whilst various of Davenport’s longtime clients said they are keeping out hope that he will only briefly retire, Davenport mentioned “it is time.”

“The enterprise is the fantastic Lord’s and he has just blessed me with it. He permit me do the job for a prolonged time — 63 yrs,” Davenport stated. “But I have stood on these legs so prolonged they are crying. My intellect states no, but my old system claims sure.”

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