There's only one barber's chair at Charlie Parrish's Shop. It's the chair that was put in place 42 years ago when he opened for business. The relic has undergone a few facelifts over the years, but Charlie says it has served him well.
"Never saw a reason to get a new one," he says from his business at No. 8 N. Locust Street in downtown Dexter, where he's been serving customers from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., four days a week for going on half a century. Parrish moved into the Locust St. shop after moving from another downtown location where he operated for two years at the start of his barber career.
Other than the upholstery on the lone barber's chair and the price of a haircut, not much has changed over four decades in business at Charlie's. It's safe to say he houses the most unique selection of hair products in town. In ample supply for the customer in need are a host of bottles that include names like Hask Hair and Scalp Treatment, Hoods Hair Color Preparation, Staphan Bay Rum Fragrant Skin Toner, and Jeris Hair Tonic.
"When I opened the shop, a haircut cost $1.25," Parrish says. "These days it's ten bucks."
Charlie has leased the shop that he's called home for 42 years, without much thought of buying it.
"I believe I've paid for it twice," he laughs.
A short row of black upholstered seats line the north wall of the shop, where familiar faces can be found on any given day Tuesday through Friday, awaiting a turn in the age-old chair. Meanwhile, Charlie converses with them about the day's news, his most recent rabbit hunt, and more often that not, about a topic near and dear to his heart -- the local sports scene.
Parrish is somewhat of an institution in and around Stoddard County in the sports arena. From his early 20s into his 50s, Charlie was a familiar face on baseball diamonds across Southeast Missouri as he coached area youngsters, first in Little League, and later 14 and 15 year-olds in the Jr. Babe Ruth Leagues.
It was 1979 when Parrish's team earned their way to Nogales, Ariz., to play in the Jr. Babe Ruth World Series. The trip remains one of Parrish's fondest memories.
"We won one game and lost two, but I'll never forget it," he says.
Now adults, many of those former players are teachers and successful businessmen in the area. They still visit Charlie's barber shop where the talk inevitably turns to that memorable trip of 33 years ago.
"It's fair to say," Charlie smiles, "that it was the highlight of my coaching career."
A steady clientele pass through Charlie's shop on a regular basis. Some, like Bruce McClintock, have passed the tradition of going to the most experienced barber in town down to his son and his son's son.
"I've been going to Charlie for more than 40 years," says McClintock, who posed recently for a photo of four generations of his family visiting the barber shop.
Charlie used to furnish a shave with a fresh cut, complete with hot towels, but those days are over.
"I gave it up a few years back because of the arthritis," he admits.
If there are a few in line for a haircut, Parrish's patrons know there's always fresh coffee in the pot for pouring. Above the familiar Bunn pot is a sign that has seen better days. It reads, "Old fishermen never die...they just smell that way!"
While Charlie says he doesn't have any immediate plans to retire, he does confirm he's "on call."
"That means if I get a call from anybody to go fishing or hunting, I go."
For the veteran barber, rabbit and duck hunting opportunities take precedence over most activities these days. He has been an avid hunter for all his adult life. A pen of Beagles at his rural Dexter home includes Sam, Archie, and Trixie -- all eagerly awaiting a trip to the woods with their favorite barber.