Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"Grand" Summer Memories

Facebook is a wondrous thing. Sometime it's a really frustrating and habit-forming thing, but it's wondrous nonetheless.

On Monday I experienced one of those wondrous moments.

A friend posted a private message with a link to an article in The Nashville Leader (Nashville, Arkansas, not that other place in Tennessee), asking if my grandfather wasn't a barber in Nashville.

The article is one of a series building up to the 2015 football season. This entry traces the history between the owner of the White Way Barber Shop on Main Street, Mr. Reeder McCullough, and Nashville High's football team, the Scrappers. Mr. McCullough recalls how he came to be the Main Street barber:
The year was 1963 and Reeder was working in Bossier City, La. when he and his wife Emma, were at home for a weekend. Visiting friends in the White Way Building on Main Street, he mentioned ambitions to own a barbershop when the owner offered him a deal he couldn’t refuse. Now, 52 years later, Reeder still talks Scrapper football as he cuts and styles hair for hundreds of Nashville folks.
That "owner" was my grandfather, "Daddy Gus" Foshee!! (His clients called him "Mr. Gus," but he was my Daddy Gus!)

Talk about a flood of memories. Searching some of those closed drawers in my head, I remembered that Daddy Gus sold the barber shop when I was about 8 or 9 years old, and that would've been in 1963. He planned to "retire" so he could stay off his feet but wound up taking a night watchman's part-time job at the Case-Nashville knife plant. He even took me with him a couple of times when I would go for a long summer visit and we would play dominoes until the wee hours of the morning, but I digress.

It's the barber shop memories that brought a pleasant smile to my face. 

The White Way had a real barber pole -- the kind that spun and spun like a huge candy cane. I could watch it forever, certain that the end of that red stripe would turn up eventually. There was a bench outside beneath the picture window where you could sit on hot days to catch a breeze or to enjoy the sunshine on a cool afternoon. No one worried about bolting it down, because nothing was ever stolen from the sidewalk on Main Street -- that would have been unthinkable!! Shoot -- no one ever locked the doors to their houses in those days.

The barber shop smelled so . . . cleanWhich, of course, is probably because it was clean. Immaculate. Scrubbed from top to bottom so frequently that you could eat off of the floors. And, I probably did eat off of them from time to time as young children are prone to dropping snacks on a regular basis and are not shy about picking them up and popping them into their mouths. I have recently re-discovered this characteristic of all children as I babysit with one toddler or another. Here I go, digressing again.

My grandparents had their big meal of the day, "dinner," at lunchtime ("supper" was the small evening meal, usually leftovers, or cornbread crumbled into a glass of buttermilk with salt and pepper, and maybe a slice of yellow-meat melon.) I remember him smelling like the barber shop -- and that antiseptic stuff in which he soaked the clean combs --  as he waked through the front door. 

I can see his blue eyes twinkling, maybe giving me a wink, as he dug into the fresh vegetables from his garden, and maybe fried catfish or crappie caught by my grandparents, thawed that morning from the freezer, and lovingly prepared by my grandmother, Bee Mama. She always wore one of those full, frilly flowered cotton aprons in the kitchen with her hair pulled back into a chignon positioned just above the nape of her neck. 

(My grandparents would often bring us fish or vegetables, "put up" in wax-coated freezer cartons. Mama couldn't bring herself to cook a certain carton of crappie because it reminded her so of her sweet, innocent mother who had no idea that the masking tape label she had placed on the carton could have any connotation other than the fish it purported to identify. It read "big crap." Heh.)  

Daddy Gus would "rest his eyes for a spell" on the couch in the living room before returning to the barber shop for the afternoon, taking care not to muss his thick mane of hair. He often snored while he was resting his eyes. But, then again, don't we all? ;-)

I'm grateful to Facebook and my observant friend for giving me the gift of these summer memories. I wish I could find my photo albums in the storage unit so I could scan a photo of Daddy Gus with Elder Daughter. (And if wishes were horses, we all would ride.) Oh well, the memories are vivid in my head today and that's a good thing.

Stolen from


  1. Ah, such great memories! I remember going to the barber shop with my dad and having the barber tease me about cutting off my ponytail.

  2. I've really enjoyed memories lately. Don't you love the smell of an old-timely barber shop?