From Out of the Sticks by Dave
Having grown up way out in the hills or “hollers” as they are sometime
called, I had never been in any town or city. I was always kept busy on our
farm. Mail was brought into the holler once a week, by someone who ventured
out. I went to a two room school, grades 1 through 8. I had finished 8th
Grade and was suppose to be finished with my formal education. Mrs. Stump,
our teacher, in the higher grades made it possible for me to finish my high
school courses by bringing in books for me. I got the assignments from her
and did them at home.
When I finished my high school course work, I told Mrs. Stump that my
education was finished. She looked at me with those sparkling eyes of her
and said, “Oh! No! This is just the beginning of your education. There is
a big world out there just waiting for someone like yourself.” Before I
could explain the problem of finances, Mrs. Stump handed me some papers to
fill out and some information for a University nearby.
I was so excited! I told the folks about it and they looked like they didn’
t want me to be upset if nothing came of it all. I filled out the papers
and sent them off. I didn’t expect to hear from any of the places I had
sent information. While I was waiting for any replies, I began to think
about my cloths. All I had were two pairs of blue jeans that were overly
patched and two shirts, also patched. I did get one pair of shoes last fall
for the winter.
One of the applications I made was for Federal Assistance with my college
work. I would have to pay that back, but only after I finished my degrees
and began working. I thought that would be so nice. Mrs. Stump thought of
everything. She even had a place to stay if I went. She knew I wouldn’t
‘fit in’ with the guys in the dorm. She knew I would be saved a lot of
embarrassments by living in a lady’s home.
What about my hair, you asked? Well! Dad cut my hair with mother’s
scissors. Usually the haircut was nothing more than cutting the bangs high
enough so I could see. Having never gone to town, I didn’t know what a
barbershop was. My hair is light blonde and straight. The long hair was
most uncomfortable during the summer, but I would tie it back with a piece
of string and that seemed to do the job.
Mother and Dad were happy to see me so happy but they didn’t want me to get
my hopes up. I was told that it would OK if I didn’t hear anything, but I
loved to dream big. The day came that I had waited for. I received a piece
of mail from the University. I had been accepted and found that I did so
well on the entrance exams that they offered me a full scholarship. I knew
I could get along with the scholarship if I could find a job to earn some
money, even if the Federal Loan didn’t come through.
Mrs. Stump was thrilled about the scholarship. It sure was a reflection on
her teaching and dedication. I accepted the scholarship and was getting
ready for the big adventure. About two weeks before I was to leave for
college, I received my Federal Loan. I was set. I knew I would try and
find some work while going to college and that way I could send some money
back home to help the folks. They are honest, hardworking farm folks and
made just enough to get by.
Off I went with my one extra pair of patched jeans and shirt. Mother made
my under ware out of feed sacks. I wasn’t proud. I first met Mrs. Story, my
landlord and she was extremely nice. I found out later that she had
received a nice letter from Mrs. Stump, tell her all about me and my
background. I had a lovely room. It sure was different from the loft where
I slept at home. And guess what, she even had indoor plumbing. WOW! Had I
hit it big or what?
I got to the University at least 2 weeks before classes began. I wanted to
get the ‘feel’ of things. I knew it was going to be a big change for me,
but I couldn’t wait. I went out and purchased new cloths and was determined
to explore the campus. There were some men on campus, already. It turned
out that they were athletes and were there for football season. I didn’t
have a clue what a football game was, but it sounded interesting. No we
didn’t have TV because we didn’t have electricity. I studied at home with
I admit now that I had missed a lot of things, but I didn’t know it at the
time and I had gained so many other experiences that the city boys hadn’t.
I felt it was a trade off, but I soon found out, that I was holding the
shorter of the two sticks. Back to the athletes I saw on campus. They all
had short haircuts. My blonde hair was really long - down past my shoulder
blades. I stopped one of the men and asked them and asked him where he got
his hair cut. He looked at me with a strange look and said, “At the
I didn’t know what a barbershop was so I went looking for it. While
looking, I didn’t find it. I found a policeman and asked him where a
barbershop was. Now he had a fantastic and most interesting haircut. I
found out later the haircut was called a Head Shave. I thanked the
policeman and off I went. I found the shop and went in. Thinking it looked
strange is a true statement. The smell was what I was fascinated with the
most. I soon was facing Jeff, the barber.
We talked for a few minutes and he sensed me being nervous. I told him this
was the first time for me, first time in a barbershop. Jeff was a young
barber and put me at ease very quickly. He had me sit in this big
overstuffed chair. Man was it big but it was extremely comfortable. We
began to talk and he found out where I was coming from. He was so kind.
Once I relaxed, Jeff asked me how I wanted my hair cut. I told him I didn’t
have a clue since what he saw was all that I ever knew. He showed me some
hairstyles and I liked them all for they were all short. Then I remembered
the kind policeman. Just as I was about to ask Jeff about the policeman’s
haircut, I saw it. Jeff saw my expression when I saw the picture. Jeff
smiled and said, “Is that what we are going for?” I looked up at Jeff and
just then noticed that Jeff had the same cut. Actually he was rubbing his
Then the ‘wheels’ inside of my head began to turn. I said to myself, If I
got that hairstyle, I could keep it shaved and wouldn’t have to go to the
barbershop and I would save a lot of money.
Just then Jeff said, “I am guessing you want a head shave.” I looked up and
said, “Yep!” It wasn’t long before the hair began falling to the floor. I
wasn’t one bit apprehensive about the cut. When Jeff finished, he had a
great shine on my head. I loved it. I paid Jeff and left. I bought some
new cloths and I was set for college. I even found a good paying job the
second day in town.
I met with the Dean since Mrs. Stump had written him and told him all about
me. I was assigned a great faculty member as my advisor. I was to meet
with him each day until I found my way.
Classes began. I loved the work and the schedule worked really well for my
work I had found. I was able to send some money home from time to time. I
made sure that I sent a letter home each week. My parents couldn’t read or
write, so Mrs. Stump stopped by to read the letters to them. I sent Mrs.
Stump a thank you letter for all that she had done and kept her up on how
things were going.
I sure do like this new haircut. I can’t describe how wonderful it is.
Every morning I get up and shave my entire head, save the brows. I love the
look and I am beginning to get a little tan on the head. When I have
children I will be sure that the boys will end up with this hairstyle.
There isn’t any style better.
College work went well. I was on the Dean’s List the first grading period
and every period after that. I sure did enjoy learning. I hadn’t been home
since I left for College. I was on my way home for Christmas. I didn’t
know how the folks would react to my haircut, but I sure was enjoying it.
When I got home, the first thing they commented on was my hair. They both
didn’t know how to take it, but I assured them that my hairstyle was common
on campus and that I really enjoyed it.
I wasn’t to return home until after the end of the first year in college. I
found I could take summer courses and could finish my degree early. I kept
my head shaved all through college. I finished my Masters Degree a year
later. I didn’t know what I was going to do. My advisor, Dr. Ward, had
been so kind all through my college work. I wanted to go into research
dealing with Plant Genetics. Having grown up on the farm, I knew I wanted
to do something with plants. It turned out that I finished my PhD in Plant
I got a job working for the Burpee Company. I loved working and coming up
with new and improved stains. You have guessed it, I am still bald. For me
there is no other haircut for a man.
Dad finally had to retire. His health wasn’t that good. I talked the folks
into selling the farm and move into my home with me. They would be free
from drafts in the winter, indoor plumbing, etc. I did have one thing in
mind and that was mother’s cooking. She loved to cook and the type of food
she cooked was the kind that ‘sticks to the ribs’ as the saying goes.
Mother and Dad thrived in their new environment. I had a big garden so they
both were so happy when spring came and they could get to ‘feel mother earth
’ as they put it. I could see the joy in both of them when they could get
out doors and work in the garden.
I called home one afternoon to see if I could bring home a new employee.
Jim was from the city and he was embarking on his first stay away from the
asphalt jungle. Mother was delighted to have him come for dinner. I told
Jim that he was in for a treat when it comes to food. He had never had
country food. As we were driving home, Jim asked me about my shaved head.
I told him the story and he smiled. I could tell that he was ‘toying’ with
the idea of going short. Jim’s hair was over his ears and touching the
collar. His blonde hair was very curly. As we talked, Jim finally asked me
what to ask for if he wanted a haircut like mine. I told him to find a
barber who you give you a head shave.
I couldn’t wait to see if Jim got his head shaved. One afternoon, after
work, Jim came to me and wanted to know if I would go with him to get his
hair cut. He didn’t know where to go so I told him I had a pair of clippers
at home and I would do the honors if he really wanted his head shaved. I
said, “And Jim, you can get a good home cooked meal of it also.” That was
all I had to say. Jim said, “You’re on!” I called ahead and asked Mother
if it was OK to bring Jim home for dinner. Mother loved to cook and the
more mouths to feed, the better.
After a delicious meal, I looked at Jim and he smiled. Jim insisted in
helping the dishes. Mother always had me to help her. After the kitchen
was cleaned up, I told the folks that Jim and I had something to do in the
basement and that we would join them a little later.
When we went to the basement, I sat Jim on a tall bar stool and the cutting
began. I didn’t ask Jim if was sure. I plunged the raging clippers right
into the front of his hairline and pushed them straight back. In less than
a half hour, Jim was getting up with a shiny, smooth head. He looked into
the mirror and said, “WOW! This looks better on me than I had ever
expected. Thanks!” I told Jim that he really looked fantastic without all
of that hair.
When we came up from the basement, The folks looked surprised and then
mother said, “Jim! You look great. Keep it shaved.” Dad smiled and said,
“It’s a keeper.” The following morning at work, Jim came to me and said,
“Boy! It felt fantastic when I shaved my head this morning. I’m going to
keep this style. So easy to keep and feels really great.
Well the years rolled along. I had lost my parents. For some time, I felt
lonesome in the house alone. I met a sweet gal named Mary. I fell head
over heels in love. I knew if we married and had boys, they would be
introduced to the head shave in no time.