Woodrow’s Barber Shop in Stephenville, Texas might just be one of the most interesting places I’ve had the pleasure of visiting in my travels around small town Texas. I went there simply to get a story about the young barber who owns the place, and I left feeling as if I had (even if only for an hour or so) been allowed to enter the inner sanctum.
My visit began normally enough as I began to ask Woodrow Horner the usual questions. We had just covered the fact that he is 32 years old, began his adult life as a cabinet maker and ranch hand, “but I did think about the fact that I had always enjoyed my dad taking me to the barber shop when I was young. It was a place very similar to this one, a place where a young kid could drink a soda and hear old men talk about life, women, and politics. There aren’t many places where you have that atmosphere.”
And then, just as we were getting somewhere, the door flew open and in entered Joe Yasinosky and his wife. I must admit that my jaw dropped a bit when Joe exclaimed that he had cut himself shaving and needed some help. Woodrow dutifully grabbed some powder and a Q-Tip and did a bit of daubing while Joe continued talking at breakneck speed all the while agreeing with his wife that they wanted to get some peaches out of the bin where Woodrow sales items from his garden.
From there, the conversation turned to bees because it seems that the young barber is also a beekeeper and sells his honey out of the barber shop. BUT…while trying to follow the conversation that insisted on jumping from one corner of the room to another, I finally figured out that the odds are against getting a jar of the sweet stuff because it is so popular that it normally sells out as soon as Woodrow brings it into town.
Then, for some moments, I simply sat and listened as the conversation swirled around me, but gradually, a name began to surface, a name that caught my attention…Chrome…California Chrome, and as I listened a little harder, I came to understand that the man whose razor had attacked him was none other than the dentist of the once hopeful Triple Crown Winner…but that’s a “whole nuther story.”
And then, as quickly as the Yasinoskys blew in, they were gone, and for a brief time, I was able to continue on with Woodrow’s story.
“I was working as a ranch hand when my wife graduated from Tarleton University, and I began to think about the fact that a barber gets to look out a window when it’s hot and when it’s cold so I sold my truck, bought a $5,000.00 FEMA travel trailer, and headed off for barber school in Tyler, Texas in my ’69 Chevy while my wife stayed here with our five your old son.”
It took Woodrow 10 months and $7,750.00 worth of tuition.
“On my very first day of school I was cutting hair (yes, he said first day) when a little boy from Paris, Texas walked in. The other barber yelled out, ‘Come on in here, little cracker!’ and the boy crawled up into my chair. He told me a sad story about living in Paris, and I gave him a sad haircut!”
Seven thousand plus dollars and 10 months later, Woodrow graduated from barber school.
“I sold my FEMA camper for what I gave for it so I had $5,000.00 to start my business.”
“I began as a barber inside a local feed store, where I worked for a year and 9 months before buying this place, and I’ve been here ever since.”
And what “this place is” is much more than a barber shop!
“I guess what I like most about the business is the stories I hear everyday,“ Woodrow told me right before he was forced to jump up to do a hot shave. “I actually like giving shaves more than cutting hair. It’s more relaxing for the customers, plus knowing how to give a good shave is more of a rare skill.”
Almost before the words were out of his mouth, I was reminded that Woodrow’s Barber Shop is much more than a barber shop as Texansunited.com’s Sheran Weible picked up Woodrow’s story, first talking about how wonderful her husband thinks the hot shaves are and then back to his honey, leaving me to wonder if there is something within the walls of the barber shop that force the stories and memories to flow so quickly.
“Woodrow’s honey never lasts more than a day because it is much better than any other honey, isn’t it Woodrow?”
“Mine is a course, filtered honey. I mush it all together with the comb and run it through a paint strainer. (I assume one that’s never strained paint, but I didn’t ask!) You have to be careful about honey. Anything labeled “pure honey” only has to have 25% honey in it according to the FDA. You need to look for the words ‘Raw & Unfiltered’ to know that you are getting nothing but honey.
“Then, to check the quality of your honey, drop a tiny bit into tap water. If it’s good honey, the drop will hold together as it sinks.”
And then, as if it were the most normal thing in the world, there was a man in a chair playing a guitar…and with Andy on the screen, once again I wondered just when Floyd the Barber would come walking through the door…
As to the guitar man, it seems that Mike Hill and his guitar are common guests at Woodrow’s Barber Shop, his music just one on the many things that makes the place a draw. In fact, by this time I must admit that I had decided that getting a haircut and shave is nothing more than an excuse for most men to walk through the doors of the shop.
So how many people do he and the second chair barber, Norma Cuellar see each day?
“It varies, but I’d say we see between 30 and 40 people each day,” Norma told us.
Woodrow chimed in, “We never know who we will see. By nature, men are just not appointment makers. I assume partly because a haircut is pretty low priority item on our to do list,” he grinned.
However, Woodrow’s not fooling me one bit! He knows exactly what it is that keeps his customers walking through his door. By his own admission someone stops in with a story to tell every single day, and the rest of the men want to be there when that happens.
“Yes, but our man gossip is probably more important than the women’s is…” the overall-wearing barber trailed off into my rude burst of laughter.
And although this article is longer than what I had intended, I finished my time at Woodrow’s feeling as if I had truly only scraped only the tiniest tip of a very large ice burg. I was left with the knowledge that the stories and happenings held within the old building are completely impossible to harness and certainly impossible to contain within the confines of one short article.
You are simply going to have to visit Woodrow’s Barber Shop in Stephenville, Texas to see for yourself, and if you’re time there is half as interesting as mine was, you are going to have a VERY good time…whether you need a haircut and a shave or not.