It’s going to be hard to get a good flat-top cut in Orange County. Larry and Jimmy have retired their scissors and clippers.
But their mouths are still running with the banter of two men who have worked together and been friends for decades.
Last week when the governor allowed barbershops closed for the covid pandemic to open, Larry’s Barbershop in Pinehurst did not open. Instead, 81-year-old Larry Monceaux put up a handwritten sign saying they were retiring.
Monceaux has been cutting hair for 58 years. 78-year-old Jimmy Hinyard went with Monceaux to the Beaumont Barber School in 1961, but took some years off from the shop to work at chemical plant. When he retired from the plant, Larry invited him back to the shop where they cut hair and talked.
The two spent two 30 minutes Wednesday on KOGT’s Morning Show with Gary Stelly relating tales of their days at an old-fashioned barbershop where men go to shoot the bull or tell things they don’t share with anyone else.
A man might have heard a four-letter word or two, but the conversations were different when “ladies” were present they said. They have cut generations of heads and Larry had five generations from one family.
The two also cut each others hair. Larry said he always told people he was the better barber because every time Jimmy cut his hair it only got whiter. Both gentlemen could level a flat top like nobody’s business, but they admitted to probably not being the best ever.
They gave that crown to “Gorilla” at the Strand Barbershop years ago in downtown Orange. The two reminisced about Gorilla, having a hard time remembering his real name.
Then it came. “Johnny Powell! He and Buck Rogers worked at the Strand. That was the flat-top emporium,” Jimmy said.
Not every man can rock the flat-top. “Some people had a head for a flat-top. Some people had a head like an elbow,” Larry said.
Jimmy recalled one client saying his flat-top looked off-kilter. “It’s your head,” Jimmy told him. “I can only work with what you’ve got.”
The two have followed the lives of their customers through the years and know their stories. As they chattered on the broadcast, Larry throws out that Jimmy is “the better liar.”
Jimmy’s retort is “Someone says Larry is going to have to get a psychologist because he won’t have anyone to talk to.”
They love LSU and admit that sports and politics were the main topics in the shop. Larry is still a staunch Democrat, but Jimmy in recent years switched. Politics is a difficult subject to discuss and they have lost a few customers because of it. And people can get defensive about sports.
“If you came into the barbershop and couldn’t take the heat, you were in the wrong place. That was part of our barbershop,” Larry said.
Stelly related his tale of wearing a red shirt to the barbershop. One time he was there, Larry accidentally nicked his ear. It was a tiny cut, but the flowing blood was hard to stop and went all over his shirt.
The next time he went for a haircut, he wore a red shirt. Jimmy noticed him walking up to the door and teased Larry. From then on, Stelly always wore red.
However, Stelly, who owns and manages KOGT, admitted he had to switch barbers and make an appointment as opposed to walking in because he would find himself at Larry’s for several hours. “I’ve learned more about politics from these two than I ever did in college,” he said.
Stelly also recalled the old-fashioned Coke machine with ice-cold bottled drinks when he was located on Strickland Drive.
Larry said the machine ended up with an electrical problem and his grandson now has it. He didn’t miss it. He didn’t have to clean up spilled Coke or pick up empty bottles. But that didn’t mean he didn’t have to clean up spilled coffee, which was hot all day long.
The two spent years giving babies and toddlers haircuts. However in recent years they quit because they said they were too old to deal with a wrestling boy.
Larry admitted the pandemic affected their decision to retire. He said he had colon cancer and recovered. His doctor though, said if he got sick with covid 19, it would kill him.
“I think it’s time to do something else,” he said after receiving the news. A little worried about breaking the news to Jimmy but instead he responded, “what took you so long?”
Both said they loved their job and the people they met. They thanked their customers with Larry saying, “Thank you for letting me support my family and pay for my children’s education.”
“If God made a better job, he kept it to himself,” he said.
-Margaret Toal, KOGT-