Buffalo Island barber lays down his clippers
A 60 year career ended on Friday, March 28, when Paul "Doodle" Taylor packed up his clippers and locked the door of his barber shop located on Main Street in Monette.
As word spread of his retirement plans, Taylor had a busy last week with his long-time customers coming to get haircuts, share a few words of truths (as the barber shop became known as the House of Truths) before the end of the work day on Friday.
A sign in the window was created by one of Taylor's customers and in large letters it proclaimed Doodles Barber Shop & House of Truths. The sign and a lot of memories will go with Taylor.
Taylor was surprised early Friday morning when Phillip Duffel, Monette City Councilman, presented Taylor with a proclamation from Mayor Jerry "Chub" Qualls and city officials declaring March 28, 2014, as Paul Taylor in recognition of his years of service to the community and the citizens of the area.
Taylor started his last day in business with his first customer being Jimmy Hembrey and finished the day with Phillip Duffel being his last customer.
A hand-painted framed notice made by one of his customers hangs on the wall. It reads, "Attention: Your barber has never lied, told false stories nor has he ever stretched the truth. Please respect him by doing the same, thank you."
"Several years ago the author of the plaque came in and asked about getting a haircut," Taylor said. "I told him I had only one rule for my customers and it is they must always tell the truth. He created the notice for me and he has been my customer since."
Taylor said he is not sure where he got his nickname, Doodle, but it has been around for a long time. The Caraway native was raised in the Mangrum Community. He and his wife, Madge, still live in there.
Taylor left the area when he was a young man and served in the Navy. Following the Navy, he lived in California for a short time and then decided to go to barber college and get closer to home. He attended Moler Barber College in Memphis. He first worked in Millington, Tenn., before working in Jonesboro from 1957 to 1969 before opening shop in Caraway. He opened in Monette 34 years ago dividing his time between the two shops in Caraway and Monette until the Caraway building housing his shop was torn down.
Hair cuts were $1 when he started and flat tops were the popular cut.
"I have made a lot of friends and we have had a lot of fun through the years," Taylor said. "One thing I learned a long time ago is every day is a pretty day. I was cutting a man's hair and made a remark about the ugly day we were having. I forgot he was blind and he said any day he could see would be a pretty day. I never forgot his words and I agreed with him, every day is a pretty day."
Taylor said he already has a commission after he retires. A hairdresser in Caraway asked him to teach her how to cut a flat top. He said he still has quite a few customers who wear flat top haircuts.
In an interview four years ago for a feature in the Town Crier, Taylor made the comment in his years of cutting hair he had never messed up a haircut only started a few new styles.
Taylor will be 84 years old in June. He said there are not many people who can say they worked the same job for 60 years and never worked up a sweat.
"I have always had a window unit or a box fan to keep us cool," he said.
Taylor and his customers have shared a lot of "truths." One of his customers getting his last hair cut at Doodles Barber Shop on Friday said he shared free advice with them through the years.
Taylor's plans for retirement include doing what his wife tells him to do but it will not be a problem since he has been doing that for 62 years.
The Taylors have two grown children, a son in San Antonio, Texas, and a daughter in Hartford, Conn.
Taylor said he has enjoyed serving his customers across Buffalo Island and the surrounding area. His long career has made lasting friends and great memories.