Rural Missouri - April 2013 - (Page 48)
N E I G H B O R S
The Ceaseless Charles
For more than four decades, Charles Parrish has been a Bootheel barber
“He can always get you
talking,” says Alan McRoy
of Dexter, who stopped in
for a cut with his two-yearomething happens
old grandson, Bryson. “He
when you drop
seems to know everything
down off the hills
about the people in this
around Poplar Bluff
town because he has been
and reach the ﬂats of Misa part of it for so long. That
souri’s Bootheel. Besides
and don’t get him started
the obvious topography
talking about the Cardichange from the rugged
nals. You’ll never leave.”
Ozark Mountains to the
Charles’ love for the St.
seemingly endless cropLouis baseball team is evilands, there is a different
dent from the few photos
feel to the southeastern
on the wall of famous playchunk of the Show-Me
ers, but anyone who has
ever mentioned the “Birds
“There are several counon the Bat” to Charles can
ties in the area, but it all
tell you about a time when
feels like one family,” says
he has talked their ear off.
Charles Parrish, who lives
He knows everything
just outside of Dexter. “I
about the team — from his
don’t know what it is, but
days watching famed outI love it here more than
ﬁelder Lou Brock to the latanywhere else.”
est youngsters coming up.
Just like many longtime
“He also knows more
residents, Charles has
about the history of high
called the Bootheel home
school sports than anyfor almost all of his life
one,” says Alan, also an
and wouldn’t have it any
Ozark Border member.
other way. For more than
For several years,
four decades, he’s held a
Charles Parrish, left, gives 2-year-old Bryson a trim at Parrish Barber Shop in Dexter. When Charles ﬁrst
Charles was in charge of
special place in the lives
took over the barbershop in 1970, a haircut cost just $1.25. Forty-three years later, a cut now costs $10,
the area’s youth baseball
of many around Stoddard
but the same chair and the same barber are there for a welcoming experience and warm conversation.
programs, director of the
County as a barber in
town’s parks and recreation
department and a proud patron of Dexter Bearcat
included a written exam and, most importantly, a
“I started working here in 1970 and have been
high school sports programs.
supervised shave and haircut.
ever since,” says Charles. “Through 43 years, I
“I get to watch these kids grow up,” says
“Of course you brought someone in that you
have had the same shop and the same chair.”
Charles. “From the days watching them play basehad cut their hair before, so it looked like you
The Parrish Barber Shop along Locust Street
ball to now seeing them with a family, it’s great to
knew what you were doing,” Charles laughs.
in downtown Dexter might be
see these folks through the years.”
hard to ﬁnd with its unpretenAfter getting his barber license, Charles knew
As Charles reaches his 70th birthday this
tious exterior, but inside, past the
he wanted to return to his beloved Bootheel.
month, he shows no signs of stopping or retiring
iconic tri-colored barber’s pole is
Luckily, an opportunity came to work
his coveted Koken barber’s chair.
in Dexter. Richard Miller, who had a bara warm atmosphere of friends tell“Besides a few upholstery jobs, she’s orginal,”
bershop down the street from the shop
ing stories about high school football,
says Charles. “I don’t see any need to quit either.
Charles was working in, had to have
town gossip and what’s going on in
On days when the ﬁsh are biting, I might close
surgery and was going to be off work
the world today.
up shop for a little while, but people understand.
for a year. He turned the reins over
“I guess if you have been around
And with a job like this, it’s warm in the winter
to Charles. A year passed and Richard
as long as I have, you kind of get to
and cool in the summer. I’ve got it made.”
decided he didn’t want to come back to
know everyone,” says Charles, an Ozark
Charles also has no desire to leave southeast
his shop, so it was up to Charles to carry on the
Border Electric Cooperative member. “There
Missouri, as he attributes the area’s superb ﬁshbusiness, which he still runs today.
are very few people that are in Dexter and this
ing spots and plentiful hunting grounds as reason
When Charles ﬁrst started, a haircut was only
county that I haven’t cut their hair at some time
enough to stay. His wife, Dorothy, still works for
$1.25. Today, prices have changed, but a haircut
in the Dexter school administration building, and
still only costs $10. Special cuts will only pull
Charles’ career as a barber began in 1967, after
his two daughters also have followed suit and live
an extra dollar from your pocket. He once did
growing up in nearby Gray Ridge and spending
only a few minutes outside of town.
shaves, but due to arthritis problems in his hands,
time in the United States Army.
“I just love this area and what I do,” says
he no longer offers that service.
For nearly a year, he studied at Moler Barber
Charles. “From people on welfare to millionaires,
“I am about the only one left that ﬁnishes a
College in St. Louis. But before he could get his
they all need haircuts and they come to me. I get
cut with a straight edge though,” smiles Charles.
license, he had to complete an apprenticeship
to be a part of their lives.”
“I still got that skill.”
with a barber. He once again found himself in
Walking through the doors of the Parrish Barsoutheast Missouri, assisting and learning the
Parrish Barber Shop is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesber Shop is like taking a trip back to simpler times.
craft from a barber in Bernie, just a few minutes
day through Friday, and is located at 8 N. Locust St.
There is no radio blaring with the latest top hits
drive from his hometown.
in downtown Dexter. Call Charles at 573-820-4091
or ﬂat-screen televisions or even a receptionist. It
After his apprenticeship ended, it was time to
to schedule a hair appointment.
is just Charles and his great knack for storytelling.
head back to St. Louis for a ﬁnal test — which
by Kyle Spradley
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - April 2013
Rural Missouri - April 2013
Table of Contents
It’s all about redemption
Best of rural Missouri
Hearth and Home
Marmaduke’s Cape expedition
The soldier’s paper
Rural Missouri - April 2013
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