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Cooper has 'done' hair for 50 years

January 07, 2007

When Leonard Cooper was about 17 years old and wanted to style hair, he practiced on a family friend who got tipsy and fell asleep at his mother's Charles Town, W.Va., home after dinner.

"Everybody saw it," Cooper recalled. Family and friends liked the pressed and curled style and that led to Cooper styling the hair for two sisters and his sister. Positive word got around, and a career was born.

Cooper, the main barber at Just Us Barber Shop at 206 N. Jonathan St. in Hagerstown, now cuts mainly men's hair though he still styles hair for some women.

He switched from being a beautician to a barber around age 40 in an effort to prevent getting carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis from working with curlers and braids.

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"I always did like to do hair," since about age 12, said Cooper, 67, of Hagerstown. "I like to fool with hair and faces."

He learned by watching his mother, the late Irene Wise Cooper, who did her own hair as well as others'.

Photos by Ric Dugan

Text by Julie E. Greene

Leonard Cooper cuts Trevon Lockley's hair at Just Us Barber Shop in a duplex on North Jonathan Street. The photos above the mirrors are of former barbers and a manicurist at the shop. The photo on the right, atop the mirror, is of a younger Cooper. Third from the right is the shop's current owner, Joe Fowlkes.

Barber Leonard Cooper has been cutting and styling hair for about 50 years. Sometimes he sings gospel while he works.

Donnis Ashby reads The Daily Mail while waiting to get his hair cut. Barber Leonard Cooper said the shop accepts walk-ins, but he prefers appointments so customers don't have to wait long.

Reflected in a mirror, Leonard Cooper cuts Donnis Ashby's hair. The photos, seen on the left side of the mirror image, are of various styles Cooper has cut. These include cutting "Reebok Pump" into the hair of one young man who worked at a shop that sold Reeboks. Cooper says the man was given a pair of Reeboks after shop employees saw his new hair style.

Trevon Lockley, 10, gets a haircut recently at Just Us Barber Shop.

Cooper trims the mustache of Marcellus Taylor. Cooper is known for wearing many rings. He said he takes after his mother, who also liked jewelry.

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