NORTH OGDEN — What he’ll miss the most, perhaps, is the camaraderie with his clients, says Ronald Anderson, a long-time North Ogden barber.
“After a while, they weren’t just my customers, they were my friends,” he said. “And they felt that way about me.”
Since 1963, Anderson has cut hair in North Ogden, keeping the locks of several generations from getting too unruly. Now 75, though, it’s time to slow down and he’ll finally be putting his scissors down after 57 years. “Kind of not how I had it planned, but that’s what happens sometimes,” he said.
He had planned to keep on going indefinitely, but a bout with cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection, hit him hard, landing him in the hospital for a few days. He’s better, but still, he’s now unable to stay on his feet as long as he once could and figured it was time to call it quits. It’s tough, and he says he may still take an occasional haircut appointment if some of his longtime regulars need it. But the days of his shop serving as a regular social hangout, of dads bringing their sons in to get haircuts, of good-natured banter are coming to an end.
“North Ogden’s been good to me; I’d like you to mention that,” said Anderson, who was to mark the occasion of his retirement with a bash at the North Branch library in North Ogden on Thursday evening. “I had a lot of good people come to me. They just kept coming back and supporting me.”
Rod Chambers, now 62, was a regular for many years and he’s not sure where he’ll go now to get his hair trimmed. As a kid, Chambers’ father served as the family barber, generally providing a basic Army-style crewcut — shaving off all his hair when the time came.
But at the age of 16, he started getting his hair cut by Anderson, who had a much easier touch, even providing shoulder and neck massages as part of his services. Chambers stuck with him.
“He does a fine job, and just a friendly atmosphere to talk,” Chambers said.
Anderson started at a strip mall off Washington Boulevard in southern North Ogden then later shifted to a site adjacent to his home at the time on that same thoroughfare. He moved in the early 1990s to a new home at 538 E. 2175 North and brought his barbershop along, setting up in a converted garage. He’s got a Western theme going on inside the shop, a nod in part to his love of horses and hunting. But decor aside, Anderson created a friendly refuge of sorts for those getting haircuts.
“He likes people. He knows everybody who comes in,” said Grant Protzman, another longtime customer.
David Smith, another regular, noted the easy banter inside the shop. “He’s a gentleman. He’s got a sense of humor, quite a jokester. I enjoy his jokes,” Smith said.
Indeed, for Anderson, the connections with the customers are what he’ll miss the most.
“We laughed, told jokes, kidded around and talked about politics, hunting and fishing,” he said. “Just man talk.”
THE FRIENDLY VIBE
Anderson, whose dad was a barber, grew up in Carbon County and came to North Ogden in 1963 at the invitation of his brother, also a barber who was running his own shop in the city. He had been at it for about four years when his brother decided he wanted to move on to something different. Anderson bought him out and his days as a business owner began.
In the early years, he remembers the Beatles and their influence on hair styles. “People started letting their hair grow longer,” he said.
Initially, he would follow the guidelines set by his young clients’ mothers, who generally favored shorter hair. But he soon learned a lesson that stuck — that he better pay attention to what those getting haircuts wanted.
“I had little kids crying because I did what mom said,” he said. “I started leaving their hair long, cut the hair the way the kids wanted.”
Keeping the focus on what the customers wanted worked, and he soon found he had a regular following. Over the years, he’s had generations come in — fathers, sons and grandsons.
“All of my kids, their first haircut was with him,” said Protzman.
Still, his skills with scissors and clippers notwithstanding, the friendly vibe also made the locale stand out. That, perhaps, is what Anderson will miss the most in retirement.
“I don’t know. I just enjoy it, enjoy the people coming and visiting me,” he said. “It’s a social event. That’s what I miss now.”