'An ancient, dying breed'

Lawrence County barber has been cutting hair for nearly half a century

Barber Terry Heard, of Hoxie, gives a haircut to Hunter Capps, 7, of Lynn, on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, at Whiteway Barber Shop in Walnut Ridge. Heard has been a barber in Lawrence County for nearly half a century. “I never did think that I’d live to see that I had the only original barber shop in Lawrence County,” Heard said. Photos and story by Jacob Wiegand | The Sun

Barber Terry Heard, of Hoxie, gives a haircut to Hunter Capps, 7, of Lynn, on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, at Whiteway Barber Shop in Walnut Ridge. Heard has been a barber in Lawrence County for nearly half a century. “I never did think that I’d live to see that I had the only original barber shop in Lawrence County,” Heard said. Photos and story by Jacob Wiegand | The Sun

WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. — Barber Terry Heard believes himself to be a member of “an ancient, dying breed.”

The lifelong resident of Hoxie operates Whiteway Barber Shop, located at 102 SW Second St. in Walnut Ridge, where he has worked for 28 years. But he has worked as a barber in Lawrence County for close to half a century.

“I never did think that I’d live to see that I had the only original barbershop in Lawrence County,” Heard said.

Barber shears on Heard's counter as he cleans up after closing Oct. 20 at his shop.

Barber shears on Heard's counter as he cleans up after closing Oct. 20 at his shop.

Being part of the “ancient, dying breed” of barbers is something Heard said he was initially told by a barber inspector.

According to data from the Arkansas State Board of Barber Examiners, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, Heard is operating the only certified barbershop in Lawrence County. The data shows Bill’s Barber Shop in Black Rock and Hoxie Barber Shop being marked as “out of business” during the board’s inspection process for the 2014-15 operating year.

Stepping off the sidewalk and into the barbershop, in operation since 1934, is like taking a step through time.

“I tried to keep it traditional as I could,” he said. “I never want no fancy stuff. I just wanted an old-fashioned barbershop.”

There’s many of the things one might expect to find: the barber chairs that have held the weight of countless customers; the red, white and blue barber pole marking the entryway; the assorted clippers and hair tools.

But then there’s the more unique items: the image of a young boy receiving his first haircut from Heard; fish cleavers from his father’s fish market hanging on the wall; pictures of his parents and his twin brother; maps of Arkansas and Lawrence County; his barber registration displayed for all to see.

Heard tends to Jim McKnight, of Walnut Ridge, on Oct. 20 at Heard's shop.

Heard tends to Jim McKnight, of Walnut Ridge, on Oct. 20 at Heard's shop.

“I just always liked it and wanted to do it,” he said about his career. “I just made this my livelihood.”

After working in the community for nearly a half century, Heard said people are more than patrons.

“When you work with somebody for years, they don’t become your customers, they become your friends,” he said.

Harold Forehand, of Walnut Ridge, has been a customer of Heard’s for about 30 years. Forehand mentioned the social aspect that often accompanies paying a visit to a barbershop.

“Sometimes people just come in, sit and just visit. Don’t even want a haircut,” he said.

Heard steps on a chair to change his sign to "Closed" near the end of his shift near Marty Harris, of Hoxie, on Oct. 20 at Heard's shop.

Heard steps on a chair to change his sign to "Closed" near the end of his shift near Marty Harris, of Hoxie, on Oct. 20 at Heard's shop.

But this barber isn’t limited to the space where he typically conducts his craft. He’ll travel to people’s homes when they are unable to get out of the house.

“I’ll tell them if they’re not able to, that’s the reason my phone number is on my window,” he said.

But at 68, the barber said he’s achieved his dream and will be working at his shop until he is no longer able to do so.

“It’s been my dream, and I fulfilled it,” he said. “I tried quitting and working three days a week, but I couldn’t handle it. Because I had too much free time on my hands. I said, ‘Heck with it. I’ll just die behind this barber chair.’”

Following his last customer exiting his shop, Heard takes a load off in his barber chair to make a call Oct. 20 at Whiteway Barber Shop in Walnut Ridge.

Following his last customer exiting his shop, Heard takes a load off in his barber chair to make a call Oct. 20 at Whiteway Barber Shop in Walnut Ridge.