Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bob's Barber Shop for History, Humor and a Good Haircut

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bob's Barber Shop for History, Humor and a Good Haircut

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Longenecker, Shorelines Columnist

"Do you remember the lighthouse?" barber Bob Thompson asked me. "It was in the middle of the fork of Seminole Road at Atlantic Boulevard before they straightened it out."

Bob remembers. He has been a fixture on the corner of Seminole and Atlantic; he'll celebrate his 45th year there in April. When he started, a haircut cost $1.75 and his drive from town was only about 20 minutes. There was only a stop sign where Southside Boulevard met the Arlington Expressway.

Mac McCombs owned the shop when Bob started. Bob worked for McCombs for four years and then bought the shop with its then three chairs. McCombs then retired from the business early. The building and the shop have had only two owners. Bob says both landlords have been wonderful, and he is the second shop owner.

Bob smiles quietly when asked if his goal is 50 years. "Don't have one [a goal]," he said. He and his wife Delores celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary on Feb. 10.

He obviously likes what he does.

"It's been good," he says of the his work. "You get to meet people you would never meet otherwise."

He moved to Neptune Beach 18 years ago after 23 years in Atlantic Beach. Stability and continuity are important to him. Scott Corwin, a customer for a mere 33 years, had just left the shop. His father, Jim, a surgeon and former School Board member, had a rule. When Jim Corwin decided a cut was due, his four boys had to visit "Mr. Bob" before they could sit down for dinner.

"Kids grow up. Go off to the military, come back and then retire," Bob said of the pleasure he has gotten from watching four to five generations pass through his small four-chair shop. Like the Corwins.

He cut former "marshal" Jim Jarboe's hair, and Jarboe would would bring in his dog.

"There was not supposed to be a dog in a barber shop. His dog would come in and lay down. It looked like a pony," he said of the marshal's Great Dane.

From the late '60s to the early '70s, Bob ran the shop alone. When asked about watching the world go by just outside the large picture window, he noted that his view is mostly the walls (and heads) from his corner chair. …

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