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By Dan Rudy 

Barber pole to stop spinning at Grandma's


Dan Rudy/ Wrangell Sentinel

Clara Haley takes a seat in her 111-year old barber chair at Grandma's Barber Shop. In business since 1983, Haley has decided to close her shop by year's end.

"When everything gets worn out, I'm quitting," Clara Haley once promised herself. On her second comb now after more than four decades of cutting hair, she has finally decided to close up her Front Street store, Grandma's Barber Shop.

"It's been a great shop," she said.

Patrons are sure to remember it, with its shelves and walls filled with antiques, knick-knacks and curiosities she's collected over the years.

"I have stuff in here that the museum doesn't have," said Haley.

There's little room for a lull in the conversation, with a variety of glass fishing floats, gear salvaged from sunken wrecks, old cameras, pre-Depression glass where the manganese content has since turned the bottles a purplish hue, straightedge razors and assorted bits from Old Town.

"Everything in here has been brought in," Haley said, largely given to her by locals.

"It's exactly what I wanted when I was going to open," she said of her shop. When she opened Grandma's in 1983, she had her tools, a portrait picture of her newly-born granddaughter and a 1903 Theo Kochs Chicago-made chair.

"It took five guys to carry this up the stairs," she recalled. "They told me, 'Next time you're moving, don't call us.'"

When she was in barber school, every Saturday she would collect signatures for the barber board working at different shops around Portland, Ore.

"The shop I just loved was just like this," Haley said, with a collection of antiques and nearly the very same chair. "Everything I have in here is what I wanted."

One item she was particularly pleased to get was her by-now weathered appointment board, a dry-erase board she's rigged up to hang from the shop door. Haley said she got the idea from her niece's dorm room door, and the system has been more manageable than having to schedule everything by phone.

A great-grandmother now, Haley said business at Grandma's has slowed down to the point where she finds herself working maybe two hours a day. She recently decided it was time to close up the shop for good, by month's end.

That won't mean putting down her scissors just yet, however.

"I love cutting hair," she said. "I've been cutting hair for 41 years. I'll probably still keep cutting hair at my house."

Most of the shop's collection will go to her son, but she will still have a collection of good memories – more than she can keep track of.

"I wish every day I'd written down one thing that had happened," she added.


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