While Martin Luther King was giving his “I have a dream” speech, Curley Beall and Jack Caskey were fulfilling their dream – to own their own barbershop.
They left City Barber Shop on the Granbury square and opened their own barbershop in a new building on West Pearl Street in 1963. The business has run continuously since they opened their doors in August 1963.
“They were told that they would starve to death if they weren’t on the square,” said co-owner Delana Holderness.
Today, 50 years later, Curley’s daughter and son, Delana (hairdresser) and Richard Beall (barber) are carrying on that dream. Kris Hickman (barber) and Merrill Davis (hairdresser) are also on staff.
The aromas of hair tonic, aftershave lotion, talcum powder, and shoeshine polish have filled the shop.
Haircuts and shaves were given, shoes shined, gossip exchanged, and children raised. Girls were even allowed in the “club” when they added hairdressers.
Jack died in the 1970s and Curley died when he was 61 on Feb. 4, 1990, but the memories live on.
After Curley’s death, Delana and Richard bought the business from their mother, Wanda Beall.
The shop has not changed much over the years, down to the hood dryer chairs with ashtrays in the arm rests.
However, Delana and Richard have done some remodeling for the first time. The most obvious change is the wall color. Delana’s brightened up the interior by painting the dark wood paneling that was so popular back in the 1960s a lighter color, but only the top half.
“We didn’t want to change it too much, Delana said.
J.C. and Sylvia Campbell’s three sons – Jerry, Joel and John – worked as shoeshine boys during their school years. They bought their own supplies and were able to turn a profit. They would spend Monday afternoons after school cleaning the shop.
They have fond memories working at the shop.
“They (Curley and Jack) would pull a prank on you in a heartbeat,” said John. “They were both characters.”
“Jack wasn’t supposed to smoke after he had a heart attack, but he used to go in the bathroom and smoke and blow it out the window,” he said. “I’d go around outside and see the smoke coming out the window and go tell Curley. He’d (Jack) always say, ‘It wasn’t me.’ I never did find the cigarette butts to prove it.”
“Jack loved to tell stories,” said Jerry. “The more he told the stories, the bigger they got-he had a new audience every 30 minutes. I listened to them over and over, and one day I confronted him and asked why his story kept changing. I caught him in the act and he was embarrassed. Curly was howling.
“Curly liked to play practical jokes. One time he told me to go to the back and get the elbow grease. I went back and couldn’t find it. I came out and they were all laughing at me.”
They sold the shoeshine stand to Billy Bob’s Texas in the late 1970s or early 1980s, said Delana.
It takes a village
“No telling how many kids worked there over the years,” said Jerry. “There was a philosophy at the shop – it takes a village to raise a child. The men would talk about what’s right and not right and the kids would hear that.”
According to John, before the school year started, junior high school principal Dean Williams would bring students to the shop who didn’t have money for a haircut, and Curley and Jack would cut their hair for free.
Curley and Jack extended their support to the local kids at the high school football games. Jack was a game announcer, and on Fridays during the football season you could always find a sign on the door that said, “Closed at 5:30 on Friday on account of the football game.”
“The whole town just closed up,” said Richard.
Curley was also an artist. Every Friday during football season, Curley would paint something to build team spirit for upcoming games.
“One time he painted a yellow jacket (Stephenville team) with a fly swatter that said, ‘swat the yellow jacket!’” said Delana.
They still have longtime customers such as A.J. Wartes.
A.J. started getting haircuts from Curley in 1948, and he still sits in the same chair he sat in for Curley. The only difference is that Richard is cutting his hair.
“I love Richard just like he’s my boy, and baby sister (Delana) too,” said A.J. “We knew everybody back then, and you couldn’t get away with anything.”
When A.J. was asked what the biggest change he’s seen in the shop over the past 50 years, he simply stated, “It used to be 50 cents for a cut, and now it’s $20!”
By coincidence, as this story was being wrapped up former Granbury resident and son of Wallace Anglin who shined shoes at both Brazos Barber Shop and City Barber Shop on the square walked into the Hood County News office. Kenneth Anglin, 72, of Dallas, remembers Curley and Jack from the shop on the square.
“Curley was very likable and good at conversation,” said Kenneth, who is celebrating 53 years as a barber. “I even remember when Richard was born. I knew everything that was going on in town.”
Kenneth said he had to leave Granbury in 1955 to go to school in Coleman and live with relatives because “there was not a school for blacks over the seventh grade.”
Civil rights have changed significantly since Martin Luther King’s speech in 1963, while Brazos Barber Shop is holding on to many of its long standing traditions and memories.
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