56 years and still cutting hair

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monette barber Paul Taylor has been cutting hair for 56 years and has no plans to retire. He is right where he likes to be and said as long as he feels good, he will keep right on cutting hair.

Paul and Madge Taylor

Taylor was raised near Caraway in the Mangrum community. He and his wife, the former Madge Coggins, also a Mangrum native, have been married 58 years. They have two grown children, a son in San Antonio, and a daughter in Hartford, Conn.

Taylor left the area when he was a young man and spent four years in the Navy. Taylor said he really didn't want to come back and work on the farm. He said he thought there should be an easier way to make a living.

He worked briefly at an aircraft factory in California but he did not care for that and decided he would go to barber college and get back closer to home.

"Haircuts were 75 cents each in those days," he said. "Chopping cotton only paid $1 a day so I thought I probably could make a living cutting hair."

He went to Moler Barber College in Memphis. Taylor first went to work at Millington, Tenn., when flat tops were a popular hair cut.

Taylor said his record is 82 haircuts in one day. He didn't take time to count but said he went to work that morning with $10 in his pocket. Haircuts were $1 each and he went home with $92 in his pocket.

On an average day he would give 30 to 40 haircuts.

He left Millington and worked in Jonesboro from 1957 to 1969. He then moved back to Mangrum and opened a shop on Main Street in Caraway. Later he moved his shop near the Kwik Shop. He stayed there until the buildings were torn down.

He has been in Monette for 30 years. He opened there in 1980 dividing his days between Caraway and Monette.

He is now open three days a week in Monette.

He has several long time customers. One customer followed him over 50 years. His oldest customer is almost 100 and has his kids bring him from Jonesboro to Monette to get his hair cut.

"I have made some very good friends through the years," he said.

He also has some very good memories and met a lot of very interesting people.

"I had one customer who did not draw much money but he would come in on the first day of the month and get a hair cut and shave for $1.50. In the middle of the month he would come back and get a shave and have to charge it. As regular as clock work he would be back the first of month for his shave and haircut and pay me $1.75."

Taylor smiles when he said he had never messed up a hair cut in his 56 year career.

"I never messed up a hair cut, I just created a few new styles," he said.

Taylor survived the era when men began to let their hair grow long. He said he didn't have a problem with long hair, he just learned how to style it.

He has customers from Leachville, Manila, Caraway, Jonesboro, Lake City, Cardwell, Lost Cane, and Roseland.

He calls the barber shop the House of Truths.

"If you hear it here you know it is true," he said. "We do not gossip or spread rumors."

Taylor enjoys working in the yard and gardening when he is not cutting hair. He and his wife help take care of the Mangrum Cemetery near their home.

"We have family buried there," he said. "It is a lot of historical markers there."

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