By Johnny Neuman
The traditional barbershop still lives.
Larry Tedford, known as “Larry the Barber,” has been cutting hair for 50 years, 30 in Oxford.
In many salons you’ll find fake leather chairs, TVs, mirrors everywhere, and the hustle of getting the customer in and out. In complete contrast is Tedford’s shop at 1002 Jefferson Ave. It’s a house with chairs, couches and all the comforts of home.
“I like the old-fashioned way of making my customers comfortable,” said Tedford, “and cutting their hair, an enjoyable experience.”
Tedford doesn’t use the Internet, and his customers come by word-of-mouth. He has cut the hair of athletes, businessmen, preachers and college students.
“I have been cutting hair since I was 18, now I’m 68,” he said. “I was 4 when I got my first cut in Columbus Tutor’s backyard sitting on a tree stump.”
Tedford went to barber school for nine months at age 17.
He attended elementary and junior high school in Dublin, and in 1961, he started school in Clarksdale.
“My most memorable moment was winning the state championship in baseball when I was 12,” said Tedford, who played football, basketball and baseball. “The team finished fourth in the Little League World Series.”
Tedford said he made a few mistakes in high school and had an issue with the principal.
“My mother, then, made me learn a trade,” said Tedford, who learned how to cut hair from a family friend.
He graduated from barber school after nine months.
“In those days, I was trained by some of the most talented stylists living at the time,” he said. “I would go from shop to shop and watch, talk and learn.”
Tedford watched hairstyles change over the years – from Beatles-style cuts to 1970s hair.
“Men started using hair spray and would sit under hair dyers, which were kept in other rooms,” Tedford said. “Some men were embarrassed to be seen under a hair dyer. Portable hair dyers are sold everywhere now.”
Parker Rutherford and his friend Christian Dodson, both students at the University of Mississippi, said they heard about “Larry the Barber” from other students.
“I walk into Larry’s and feel like I’m walking into a house,” said Rutherford. “The whole environment is welcoming. I go sit in a comfortable chair, like I’m in my living room.
“I feel like I’m going to my uncle’s house, and he is cutting my hair. It put me at ease. Larry is easy to talk to, and we have good conversation.”
Dodson said Larry’s is different from other hair salons.
“(I) feel at ease, instead of awkward, like at any other haircut place where you don’t know the person,” he said. “You really get to know the people here.”