Old Fashioned Barber Shops: “A Cut Above the Rest”

For those old enough to remember fathers, husbands or grandfathers going to the barber shop for a haircut and shave, think back to yesteryear. Let your senses bring you back to a time when scents of talcum powder, shaving cream, hair tonic and cologne filled the air. Mixed with these familiar smells were voices of boys and men sitting and engaged in friendly conversation and laughter. Placed on a counter were scissors, clippers, towels, sharp razors and combs. For those of an older generation, this scenario produces memories of an old fashioned barber shop. Although some do still exist, they seem to be a dying breed in the midst of convenient and modem hair salons scattered in malls or in business areas. Although haircuts defined barber shops, many remember the friendships and warm conversation which seemed as much a part of the shop as the hair cut itself. To many, that is what made them “a cut above the rest.”

As with all communities, local barber shops existed in Erath throughout its life. Barbers such as Lodias Bouillion and Edia Broussard both worked as barbers at separate time in the thirties. Bouillion was married to the former Nelies Bouillion and was the father of Lilly B. Hebert, Loula B. Vincent, Alvin Bouillion and Dorcy Lane Bouillion. Broussard was married to the former Edna Bodin.

Many spent their careers dedicated to their jobs. One lifelong Erath barber, who cut hair for over fifty years, was Maurice Dore. He was married to the former Lilly Leblanc. Together they had four children, M. C. Dore, Annie Dore (Armentor) Mary Dore (Sehon) and O J. Dore. Before he began this profession, Maurice Dore worked at the Sulphur Mine near Delcambre, and then as a carpenter. Eventually he settled into a career that he loved, one of being a local barber.

Located at the comer of North Broadway and West Lastie, near Erath’s red light, stood Belus Primeaux’s Bar. Attached to the bar, was an old fashioned barber shop. With Octa Reaux, Sr., (a relative), at his side, Maurice Dore began his barber years at this location. At the time of Reaux’s death, Dore then became partners with Leroy Leblanc. In 1969, tragedy struck Primeaux’s Bar when flames destroyed the bar section of the building. During the time of the fire, a determined Dore went into the building to save a treasured item to him, his old fashioned barber’s chair. Although the bar was destroyed, the barber shop side was salvaged. After the fire, Dore relocated the remaining structure near his home on East Lastie. With the remodeled building, Dore continued to do what he loved, running an old fashioned Barber Shop. In 1994, illness brought forth Dore’s retirement. Not long after, Dore passed away on December 1, 1995. Russell Suire, a local barber, purchased Dore’s old fashioned barber’s chair. That chair is still in use today at Suire’s Barber Shop in Erath.

Another long time barber in the area was Renold Bernard. Bernard worked in a shop at Sandoz’s Bar, located on Lastie Street. Sandoz’s Bar was owned by Arthur Sandoz Sr. As a local barber who also enjoyed his job; Bernard cut hair until the age of Seventy one years old. Bernard retired when Sandoz’s Bar burnt in 1976. (Following the fire, Sandoz’s Bar was torn down and Leewood “Moo Noo” Domingues rebuilt the City Bar on that site).

Erath Barber Renold Bernard, was born on January 30, 1905. He was married to Lauress Bernard and had two children, Helen Bernard (Simon) and Curtis John Bernard. After a lifelong career as a barber, Renold Bernard died on August 6, 1987.

Barber Shops still exist today, however with society’s need for convenience and a constant race for time, they seem to be a dying breed. Old fashioned barber shops have always offered haircuts and a shave, however, to many they somehow offered a little more. Through the warmth of a friendly barbers like Dore and Bernard and their shops, people connected through the age old art of conversation, an art which sometimes seems lost in today’s fast paced world. It seems that maybe that is what made those shops, “a cut above the rest.”

Though I wasn’t able to name all the men who served as barbers, this article is dedicated to each one of them. If you have a name that you would like to see added. Please email me the information in and I will add their names. Please make sure however, that the facts stated about the person is true. I will need time to verify the information sent in! Thanks, Stacy Bodin

 

Erath High School

808 S. Broadway Street

Erath, LA 70533

Phone - 337-937-8451

Fax - 337-937-5109

 

Website URL http://www.vrml.k12.la.us/ehs

 

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