After 48 years, barber makes the final cut

November 19, 2000

After 48 years, barber makes the final cut

By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer

After 48 years, Lawrence N. Alsip has put down his scissors and given his last $3.75 haircut.


He ran Alsip's Barber Shop out of his house at 14728 Pennsylvania Ave. in State Line for 48 years, but now Alsip, 76, is retiring.

His last haircut was Friday and he won't have to stand to do any more trimming or snipping.

Saturday, several customers who have been getting their hair cut regularly by him for more than 30 years came by to thank him for his work and wish him well on a retirement brought on by health problems.

While they visited, the business' single, red barber chair sat vacant.

He bought the chair for $25 in 1952 and has used it ever since. If he bought a new chair today it would cost more than $1,000 because it would have to be electric, he said. He scoffs at the need for an electrical chair since, as he points out, all one does is sit in it.


He looked around the barber shop, at his customers and his two daughters and smiled.

"It has been good to me," he said. "It has been my life - a good, comfortable living."

He has sometimes tended to the hair of four different generations of the same family, he said.

Alsip held various jobs around Washington County, working for companies such as Pangborn Corp., Fairchild Industries and others, he said. But he never lasted more than six years at a single job, he said.

Then he started his own barber shop. If he is his own boss, than he can't lay himself off, he said.

He placed a newspaper ad this week stating: "It's time for retirement. Haircuts and clippers no more. Help me celebrate, stop in and chat."

Some came by to chat and out of respect nobody asked him for one last haircut.

"He is a very needed neighbor in this community and he is going to be missed," said John Kriner, 79, who has been getting haircuts there for 37 years. "He is solid, sound and secure."

"He satisfied me 100 percent," Kriner said.

George Edenbo, 65, who lives in State Line, said he has been getting haircuts from Alsip for at least 30 years.

"He does a nice job on my hair," he explained.

In the summer of 1952, Alsip was driving along U.S. 11 and he saw a house for sale. "I jumped at it right away," he said.

He thought the location was perfect, and he was proven right as the store would get business from people traveling by for almost 50 years.

He examined it and realized it could be what it later became - a barber shop in the front and a residence in the back.

When he bought the property, it did not even have running water. But he quickly fixed that problem and the business opened in October 1952.

His daughter, Susan Alsip-Lawson, said she recalls growing up in the home and smelling the cigars of customers. When a customer would come in, and nobody was in the barber shop, she or her mother would tell the customer the barber would be right with him or her and then go find Alsip.

It also allowed him to keep the prices down. He has been giving haircuts of $3.75 each in recent years even though he knows larger barbershops charge at least $8, he said.

"Why raise it?" he asked, as Edenbo looked on, nodding and smiling.

Alsip has lived his whole life in Washington County. He was born in Pondsville, which is near Crystal Falls Drive.

In 1950, after serving in the U.S. Navy during, World War II, he went to barber school in Hagerstown and after renting a barber shop in Maugansville for six months, he opened the one on Pennsylvania Avenue.

He never knew who was going to be his next customer. Sometimes it would be a stranger who was just traveling by while at other times it might be someone who flew in at the nearby Hagerstown Regional Airport.

Regardless of the person's title, though, he learned to listen more than talk and always held a high opinion of each person he served.

It was the type of barbershop where people sit around talking about the news of the day. If he ran out of topics, someone else quickly brought up another one, he said.

If he delayed his retirement for a few weeks, he joked, the barber shop crowd could fix the current presidential mess.

But now it's time to retire, he said, which he has been considering for six to seven years. He's had health problems in recent years, including heart surgery and operations for problems in both his ankles.

As he would start to stand Saturday to greet customers again, they would inevitably urge him to sit back down.

This time it was their turn to stand and his to sit.

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