WILDER'S WHOLE WORLD: Remembering one of my favorite barbers
I write a lot about death; I guess it’s that time in my life. As I grow older, there are more and more of the people I have known dying as the normal consequence of life. Yet, it doesn’t get any easier as I watch this happen. Someday, it will be me on the obituary page.
In my humble experience, the most important lesson about dying is that we live fully while we have the chance. That doesn’t mean we always achieve that in every instance, but the fact that we are trying is cause enough for celebration. And of course, I have another example of death and dying.
I am saddened to bring the news of Charles ‘Bud’ Newman’s death last week in Sherman. Bud was my barber; he cut hair in Sherman for 63 years in three locations. He was still giving haircuts at age 89 when he retired in June 2019. Just an incredible person and incredible friend…
Bud was 90 years old; would have been 91 in May. I know this because I visited him every six weeks or so since he retired (about a year and a half) to follow my haircut schedule that we had for the past 25 years. I don't think he knew it; and I don't think I even knew I was doing it until the third or fourth visit to his house. It just seemed natural; I needed to see Bud that often and so I went.
My father discovered Bud early on when we moved to Sherman in 1968. He had a spot in a pawn shop at Harrison and Houston streets in East Sherman. He was Dad’s barber for the rest of my father’s life. At family gatherings, we still marvel at how Dad found this little known barber IN A PAWN SHOP in a town he barely knew at the time! Of course, as the eldest son, I got my hair cut by ‘Bud’ as I grew up. He was my barber, too.
Our relationship has deepened beyond the answer to a family trivia question; something I didn't expect or demand. It just happened; maybe it just does with your barber or hairstylist, I don't know. Yet, this is what happened to Bud and I over time especially in the past 10 years, and even more so after Dad died.
My family found Bud 12 years into his career. He started in 1956 after a stint with the power company climbing poles. After a conversation with his own barber, the man offered to apprentice him if he'd get his license. So, that's what Bud did and never had to climb a pole again............!
Along the way, Bud cut my hair (on and off) for 51 years of that 63. For most of that time, I didn't have to say a word; just climb in the chair and let him do his magic. He knew how I liked my hair cut--just as he did all his other customers and he never forgot. I never got a bad cut from Bud; although he would always joke that someday I'd wise up and go to a real 'barber!'
Bud never bragged, but I know that he cut hair from sun-up to sundown most of that time. I think he was in his 60s before he went to half a day; always beginning at 6:30 a.m. and there was usually someone waiting to 'climb in the chair.' (And no, it was never me at that hour!)
No, he didn't brag, but I witnessed him cutting the mayor of Sherman's hair; college professors and businessmen of all sorts over the years. He treated them all with dignity; and I also know he cut others' hair for free because he knew they couldn't pay. He was always so happy; with a smile on his face when I came through that door. Sure, he talked about all subjects as barbers do - even politics, but he was quick to point out that he didn't take sides. He was just glad to be behind that chair.
Bud was a great person and a professional through and through; I am incredibly proud to have called him my friend, too. Just for the record, I always went to visit him on a Saturday -- just like I did for my haircuts -- it seemed the right thing to do. For the past 18 months, Bud was in good spirits and enjoyed retirement. Now, he can rest.
But I will miss our visits, Bud; Good-bye, my friend.
Dwayne Wilder is a Sherman native who currently lives in Denison. Wilder’s Whole World is his commentary about life in Texoma and the world. Wilder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.