MAYSVILLE — The handwritten sign reads “Haircuts $10.”
Customers at the Trend Barber Shop in Maysville know they'll get a lot more than a nice-looking cut.
Actually, the haircut is about the only thing John “Dugan” Adkins doesn't talk about.
Adkins, the 78-year-old barber, doesn't have to.
Louis Norton, 79, Maysville took a seat on a recent morning.
For 50 years, he's had his hair cut by Adkins, always short on the sides and medium on top.
As Norton handed the barber two Lincolns to pay for the cut, Butch Bourne, 63, Elmore City, eased into the same third chair from the window.
For the last couple decades, Bourne's been coming in to Trend Barber Shop and asked for one style, kind of high on the sides and short on top.
Coalgate to Maysville
Adkins went to barber school in 1957 and soon after started working the front chair in this barbershop. That's why customers don't have to waste any time on “How would you like it?”
That way they can get to the good stuff, such as why Adkins came to Maysville in the first place.
Work was hard to come by in mid-1940s in his hometown of Coalgate and that made food a little scarce.
“We didn't let a squirrel or rabbit get away in eastern Oklahoma,” he said. “I tried raccoon once — didn't taste like squirrel.”
Dugan and brother Linzie, who was a year older, had heard their uncles talk about abundant work in the broomcorn fields around Maysville.
So each year from 1947 to 1949 the two would hitchhike the unpaved roads west, roughly 80 miles.
“There was a pecan grove out here at the west edge of town,” Dugan Adkins said. “We rustled up a couple of old Army cots and slept right there under those trees. If it come a rain, you got a free bath.
“If it didn't there was always somebody with an old car or pickup and we'd ride with them out to the farm pond to take a bath.”
The 13-year-old earned somewhere around $4.50 per day cutting broomcorn. The best he can remember, he'd pay 30 to 35 cents for a bowl of chili and a soda pop.
“We didn't eat a plate lunch, that'd cost you 70 to 80 cents,” he said.
Today, some broomcorn hangs in one corner of his barbershop.
“It taught me what making a living meant,” he said.
After getting out of the U.S. Air Force, where his service included the Korean War, Adkins returned for a few months to the broomcorn field. But while working with supplies in the war he'd injured his right arm and couldn't do a lot of strenuous work with it. A friend talked him into going to barber school.
Along the same wall, but in the opposite corner of the broomcorn, is an old photo taken in the barbershop that has served as Adkins second home for about 55 years.
“Using a magnifying glass we looked at the calendar on the wall in the photo,” Adkins said. “It said ‘1904.'
“And the building is older than that.”
When he started, Adkins was the youngest of four barbers and “I was very green.”
“It didn't take me long to realize those older barbers were sending all the hard shaves my way,” he said.
Back then, he'd get about 75 cents for a cut and shave. That suited him just fine so he stayed through the rest of the '50s and right along into the 21st century.
The senses run rampant at the Trend Barber Shop still today.
There's an aroma of shaving cream, the light rattle of an old window cooling unit, the taste of chocolate chip cookies baked by a customer's wife, the sight of tufts of gray hair on the tile floor and the feel of a firm handshake.
The desire to continue
Adkins and wife, Martha, have three children, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
He likes to laugh anyway, but really gets to chuckling when he hears the word “retire.”
“I wouldn't know what to do if I didn't come up here and work a little bit,” he said.
About that time, a car pulls to the curb out front.
The man opens the outer red screen door and then the wood white door and heads for the third chair from the window.