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A half-century of haircuts

April 12, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

MAUGANSVILLE - Starting out in the machinist trade as a young man, Marty Bumbaugh had a barber friend in Virginia who convinced him barbering would provide him with a better life.

Fifty years of cutting hair later, Bumbaugh said he has never regretted that career change so long ago.

"It has been a good life and continues to be," he said from his shop at 13742 Maugansville Road, where he has been since 1960.

Bumbaugh's half-century milestone was reached March 15. In 1954, he had just completed his 1,250 hours of barber school training and was starting out at a barbershop in Hagerstown's Washington Square.

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"I was just 22 years old then," Bumbaugh said. At 72, he said he has no plans to hang up his shears, though he'd like to spend more time hunting and fishing, and antiquing with his wife.

A native of Pond Bank, Pa., he went to high school in Virginia.

For a while, he was with his brother in Harrisonburg, Va., where they raised chickens, Bumbaugh said.

Later, he took a machinist trade job at Frick Co. in Waynesboro, Pa. His wife, Isabel, whom he married when he was 19, is from the Greencastle, Pa., area. They have four children and five grandchildren.

After six years cutting hair at the Hagerstown shop and living in Maugansville, Bumbaugh took over Ira Eby's shop.

"The house we were living in was the Ebys' house, so we bought the house and turned one room into my barbershop," Bumbaugh said.

The conversion, which involved turning a window into a door, allows Bumbaugh to go to work without having to fight the weather.

"I got some of Ira's business and added some of my own," Bumbaugh said. "A number of my customers from Hagerstown followed me here, too."

Many of those customers are still coming in for standing appointments after years with Bumbaugh.

"If they don't show up, I worry about them," he said.

The small, but cozy shop has one chair and operates nearly 100 percent by appointment, Bumbaugh said.

"But if someone comes in for a haircut and I'm not busy, I will usually make an exception," he said.

Over the years, hairstyles have come and gone.

"I did a lot of military-style haircuts when I first started cutting hair," he said.

When longer hair was popular, business declined a little and Bumbaugh said he got discouraged.

"But my mother said she was praying for me and things worked out," he said.

"I still enjoy giving youngsters their first haircuts," Bumbaugh said. Many take it well, while a few find it a harrowing experience.

"I'm actually cutting some fourth-generation hair now," he said.

Bumbaugh said barbers are a lot like bartenders in that they often find themselves listening to people talk about life's problems.

"That's OK, but I enjoy hearing good things, too," he said.

The price of a Marty Bumbaugh haircut is a mere $6.

"I used to give shaves, but I don't anymore ... just haircuts now."

He also cuts some women's hair. Really curly hair is probably the hardest type to cut, but he says he does the best he can.

Over the years, Bumbaugh never felt the need to do much advertising - he had customers enough to fill his days and give him Wednesdays and Sundays off.

"If I had advertised, I was going to say 'Come in and get a load off your mind,'" he said.

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