WOODSTOCK – On Tuesday, Louis Hamrick opened his shop for the last time. On Wednesday, for the first time in 58 years, he spent a weekday not on his feet cutting hair but sitting down, doing, as he said, whatever he wants.
Hamrick is 79 but looks at least 10 years younger, with tan skin and light hair. He moved around his small shop on Main Street with short, deliberate motions, picking and trimming customers’ hair with deft hands that have decades of experience.
The shop has been passed down through his family. His uncle started it in the 50s, he said, and Hamrick took over when his uncle left to cut hair at the military academy. Not long before his uncle left, he gave Hamrick the idea of joining the business.
“My uncle was running this shop; he said something about going to barber school,” Hamrick said. “At the time, I was driving nails and carrying brick and block. I went, ‘that sounds better than carrying brick and block,’ so I went to barber school.”
Six months and $1,500 later, Hamrick stepped into a shop he would often work in part-time but never fully leave until this week.
While he was in school, Hamrick said he worked for the government overnight and went to school during the day.
Eventually, Hamrick put aside side-work to take advantage of the pleasant environment and a slower pace of life in the barbershop. The air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter, Hamrick said, were hard to beat.
Hard work, day-in-day-out runs in his family, Hamrick said. His grandfather was a cobbler in Woodstock in the 1800s and a spirit of showing up every day is alive and well years later.
Hamrick hasn’t resigned himself to a life of idleness but rather to do what he wants when he wants to do it. Rather than cutting hair, he only has one trimming responsibility now – his lawn.
“I’ll do whatever I want to do,” he said. “If I want to stay home, I’ll stay home. If I want to go fishin’, I’ll go fishin’.”