For generations customers have turned to Allen's Barber Shop, most recently at 717 Sixth Street. Now because of health reaons Kenny Allen, 76, is calling it quits.
Kenny has continued the family tradition for 49 years.
“I was going to try to get 50 years in,” Allen said. “But too many complications...”
Allen said during those years he has looked forward to coming to work every day because he has made many friends.
“My dad (Chester A. Allen Sr.) started in 1923,” Allen said. “He passed away in '48.”
To Kenny Allen the Allen's Barber Shop has been a part of his life as far back as he can remember.
“Actually I started working at the shop in 1945,” Allen said. “until 1951 when I finished high school, and I came back in 1959 from college in Columbus and I started in November of 1959.”
Back then haircuts were $1.
Then the shop was located on Seventh Street, where it remained until October of 1969 when the property was acquired and turned into a parking lot.
The shop moved to its present location and was staffed by Kenny and his brother, “Junior” Allen, who came out of the service in 1946.
“He didn't know it but my dad had enrolled him in barber college in Cleveland, Ohio,” Allen said. “He used to be a welder. Dad enrolled him in barber college and he started cutting hair in 1947. The following year my dad took his first vacation. As far as I know it was his first vacation and he went to Latrobe, Pennsylvania where he passed away from a heart attack.”
Allen has seen numerous changes in styles over the years but one that revolutionized style stands out in his mind above all others.
“The big change came when the Beatles hit the United States,” Allen said. “Back then barbers weren't trained to cut long hair. Consequently, what happened is that people let their hair grow longer and then we went to training with Roffler Hair Stylists.”
That training included a barber from Lancaster, Ohio who came to town to train Luther Caudill, Larry Woodrum, Kenny and Junior.
“We took the training right next door here,” Allen said. “We learned razor cutting.”
Prior to the arrival of the British Invasion, barbers were not known for razor cutting, so the Allen brothers and others had to learn a whole new way of cutting.
Allen said he has cut the hair of several generations, many from the same family.
Allen, who started buying woodworking tools (Shopsmith) in 1982, has definite plans for the future.
“We've been going to the woodworking show in Columbus 15 to 20 years,” Allen said. The he laughed — “So a lot of what I am going to be doing is making sawdust.” He said he enjoys going to the woodworking show and checking out the new gadgets.
Allen, whose last day will be March 30, said he knows exactly what he is going to miss the most.
In talking with his customers it appears that sentiment will be mutual.
Frank Lewis may be reached at (740) 353-3101 Ext. 232.