The City Barber Shop had been in business for as long as I could remember. Located by the local Western Auto Store, it was owned and operated by a guy named Roger and it was the place where I remember getting my first hair cut. I must have been around 4 or 5 years old. My dad drove me on a Saturday morning. Roger placed a wooden board on the barber chair so I would sit up high enough. I always asked for a “GI,” which had to be the easiest haircut possible. I doubt that it was my first haircut, it’s just the first memory I have. I’m also pretty sure that my elderly sister used to cut my hair before then.
During one weekend of visiting the Gulf Coast, I got up early and was at his place at 7:30 because I wanted to be first in line. He always provided the best haircut I’ve had from any barber.
Roger’s shop also made it easy to meet people who reconnected me with people and places I’d forgotten as well as sometimes correct faulty memories.
On that morning, I met a guy who’d graduated from Satsuma 12 years before I did. We learned that we had connections; he worked in the HVAC business (I once sort-of worked in this business) and we both went to Satsuma High School. But his last name is what got my attention.
As a 10-year old, I played baseball for the Shelton Beach Pharmacy Wildcats for three years. This was my first time to play organized baseball. Coach Byrd was, well, the coach. I have memories of going over to his house on McKeough Street to try on uniforms, of riding in the back of his green pickup truck to practice, and of his love of coaching.
As I spoke with the guy at the barber shop, I learned that he and Coach Byrd were brothers. Once, he allowed me to pitch during practice – a mistake that a guy named Ernie regretted as I threw a wild pitch right into Ernie’s back. Thankfully, he didn’t charge the mound. I also remember the confidence that I gained by playing for Coach Byrd.
Sadly, his brother told me that Coach Byrd had passed away several years earlier.
When I drove down for my brother’s funeral a few years ago, I saw that Roger’s barbershop was being refurbished. I didn’t think anything of it because it had always needed to have the floor raised because just a little rain caused flooding. But, the shop was not being remodeled for Roger. It was for new tenants. Roger had passed away and South Alabama had lost the best barber it had. Rest in peace Roger.