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Barber retires silver scissors after 42 years

April 30, 2001

Barber retires silver scissors after 42 years



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY

andreabh@herald-mail.com

Doris BenderPhoto: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

It's been a good ride, but Sharpsburg's lone barber has retired her silver scissors to the dismay of her loyal patrons.

Doris Bender closed the door April 27 to Bender's Barber Shop, where she had cut men's hair since 1959.

"I'm ready to take life easy," said Bender, 62.

The petite native Hawaiian said she gained a loyal following in the 42 years since she moved to her new husband's hometown and began working in the 107 E. Main St. barber shop then owned by Ray Bender - no relation.

Bender, who was trained as a barber in Hawaii, said the old barber was willing to give her a chance, despite the fact that she was a woman. She remembers a few barbershop patrons walking away when they first saw her with the shears.

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"Some said, 'I'm not letting no lady cut my hair,'" Bender said.

Those stubborn patrons eventually handed their 75 cents to Bender for a haircut as her reputation as a competent barber grew, she said. Bender took over the shop in the early 1960s after Ray Bender retired due to health reasons.

Some of the men who at first rejected Bender's services because of her gender eventually took their places in her barber's chair. So did their sons and grandsons.

"Forty-two years and a full generation - that's when I feel old," Bender said.

She listened to countless conversations against a background of country music in her cozy shop, she said.

"Men gossip, too," Bender said.

She said she only snipped male scalps because that's what she's been trained to do and because "women are too picky."

But many men also want to wear the latest hair styles. Bender did her best to accommodate those trendy clients and to make her more traditional patrons feel comfortable, she said.

Bender said she referred to a picture of an Indian in a comic book to fulfill one client's request for a mohawk, a haircut featuring one strip of spiked hair in the center of the head. For those patrons with even less hair, Bender hung an uplifting wall plaque with the words, "Bald is Beautiful."

"All the bald-headed guys like that," she said.

Her clientele also included many male students from Shepherd College in nearby Shepherdstown, W.Va. Shepherd seniors Jason Enterline, Justin Masciola and Chris Shelton made one last trip to Bender's Barber Shop three days before it closed.

They weren't happy about Doris Bender's decision to retire.

"It kind of stinks for us," said Enterline, 22.

"Pretty much all the college males come here," said Masciola, 21.

"It's the cheapest and the best quality," said Shelton, 25. "We're going to be knocking on her door."

She declined.

"I think I'm going to miss these guys. They're some characters," Bender said. "But I'm tired."

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