Living Democracy

Cuts Come With Conversation at Collinsville Shop

Barber cutting client's hair at Collinsville Barber ShopBarber shops have been around since the first razors were produced. Back then a man could get far more than a haircut for his money. It’s said that the spinning red and white striped pole seen outside most barber shops once signified that the barber practiced the act of bloodletting by providing leeches for their patrons.

Luckily today, none of that goes on anymore. Over the years, barber shops became known as places for men to sit around and talk to each other much like women do in beauty salons.

Cook’s Barber Shop in Collinsville is no different. Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, this 69-year-old shop provides haircuts and conversations for local residents.

When I arrived around 9 a.m. one Friday, I was happy to see owner Roger Dutton was free to explain the history of the shop. Dutton bought the business from the original owner when he retired.

“Mr. Cook was wanting to begin to retire, and he wanted to find someone to keep the shop open. I thought, shoot, I’ll give it a try. So I came down here and watched him for about two or three days before I said I think I would like to do this,” Dutton said.

After working at the shop for the past 24 years, Dutton seems to have found his calling.

Outside view of Collinsville Barber ShopSlowly but surely, men and children began to walk in one by one to get their hair cut by Dutton. He knew mostly what everyone wanted before they even sat in his chair.

Once they sat down, the patrons began to talk about anything and everything under the sun.

As a woman, I’ve only seen the salon world and know about those conversations and the gossip about who’s been doing what around town.

Here I was pleasantly surprised to hear that most of the conversations focused on jobs, family life, farming, and events going on around town.

One customer owns a watermelon farm in town but lives in Florida. As he was getting his cut, the farmer discussed which watermelons are the best to grow, how to grow them, and what he usually makes for selling them.

Another man who owns a warehouse business nearby talked about his job and what the company does for the community.

There was no set agenda to discuss anything in particular. The conversation was just based on whatever anybody wanted to bring up and talk about with whoever was around to listen and comment. As long as someone was inside getting their hair cut, Dutton’s friendly and charismatic personality got them talking.

“You meet some interesting people doing this job. It’s why I like it,” Dutton said.

Everyone who came in was nice and had a smile on their face as they left to continue their day. It seems like barber shops still provide much more than haircuts.

Last Updated: June 30, 2015