ST. LOUIS – Behind the multi-colored door at 4619 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, you’ll find the barber of the Ville, Harry Thurston Jones.
“Well, I don’t know about world-famous, but we do have customers all over the world,” Jones said, getting a laugh from customers.
The 78-year-old Jones made the biggest decision of his life shortly after his 1957 McBride High School graduation: go to barber school.
“My dad mentioned to me the fact that he had never seen a barber not have something to do,” recalled Jones. “Being 17 going on 18, and the course was only 6 months, I figured why not?”
After two years on one side of Easton Avenue, he moved across the street to his current location, renamed Dr. King Drive, where he’s been for 58 years.
“I was across the street for two years in a building that has now been demolished and I’ve been over here since.”
That’s 60 years of grooming. And inflation.
“Probably when I started cutting hair they were $1.50, $1.75 and now they’re 15 dollars,” said Jones about the rising cost of haircuts. “Everything changes in 60 years. Think about the price of automobiles and bread, cigarettes and all the rest.”
Jones made sure to listen during that 60 years.
“The best thing is you get an opportunity to interact with people from all varied occupations,” said Jones. “And they all talk about what they do. You get an insight on a lot of things. Doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs.”
Jones remembered a mystery athlete who wandered into his shop in the 1960’s.
“I didn’t at the time know that was him. I could tell he was athletic by the way he looked, had massive wrists and I asked him ‘are you an athlete?’ And then he told me who he was. Bill White.”
At the time, White was an all-star first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, one of Jones favorite teams. He’s optimistic about this year’s Redbirds.
“If these pitchers that we have deliver the package they’re supposed to,” said Jones.
The barber is less optimistic about the gun violence so prevalent in St. Louis.
“Nowadays if people are mistreated they get pistols and they shoot them,” said Jones. “We don’t allow that crazy stuff. We try to respect the children and the women and if you come up in here you need to act right or don’t come in here.”
When you’re months away from your 79th birthday, the logical and familiar question for Jones is why does he keep working?
“I have used my money, traveling, taking care of my granddaughters, sent my daughters to school without loans and all that stuff,” said Jones. Laughing, he added “and all this haircut money that people think I got really doesn’t exist.”