January 25, 2022

Barber and pastor reunite after 50 years

I spent Thanksgiving with Ginnie’s family in Jefferson City, Mo. We all met and had our Thanksgiving the day after on Black Friday. Ginnie is the oldest of seven children, so you can imagine it was a large, joyous gathering at her brother, John’s house.

Her father, the Rev. Paul Harvey (yep), is a retired Baptist minister and is 94 years young, going strong, and headed, in all probability, for 100. He’s a resident of an assisted living facility in Ozark, Mo., (where Lambert’s Cafe is — although the Reverend doesn’t go there because it’s noisy and he has to wait too long.)

Anywho, when the Reverend Paul Harvey was starting out, he was the pastor of the Main Street Baptist Church in California, Mo., which is a small town (population 4,200, give or take) near Jefferson City. When he wanted his hair cut, he always went to Simpson’s Barber Shop at 511 North High St., on the square, in California. He liked to joke with the barber, Dean Simpson, that he went there to get high on High Street. Which is sort of the truth, because Dean Simpson never charged the Reverend Paul Harvey for his trimming. Dean, being a deacon at Main Street Baptist, was well aware of how much the pastor was paid.

Dean was married and had four children, two girls and two boys. At the time, they lived above the barbershop. Dean and Paul’s kids played with each other and went to church together. They loved the apartment on High Street and had fun blowing bubbles on the people below.

Of course, the reverend moved on to other pastorships. Whenever he was in the area, he always stopped in for another haircut from Dean, and Dean continued to not charge Paul. Paul would always offer, and Dean would say, “Your money’s no good, Reverend.”

Well, at the family Thanksgiving on Black Friday, the Reverend Paul Harvey was brought to Jefferson City, and as a special surprise, was taken to California for a haircut by his old buddy, Dean Simpson. Dean is 89 and still barbering. In fact, he has been at the same location for 70 years! No fooling. Paul tried to pay, and Dean said, “You know better than that, Reverend.”

Then, Dean and his daughter Angie were invited to Thanksgiving dinner at the Harvey’s in Jefferson City. Dean’s wife, Donna, and Paul’s wife, Ruth, were fast friends. Both of their wives have passed away, leaving the two old pals to reminisce. Ruth was famous for her roast beef gravy. Paul’s wife died a few years ago, but Dean’s wife just recently passed away. Dean and Donna both had COVID-19, and Donna succumbed.

BTW, Dean still has the same barber chair as he did when he first opened shop. It’s an old Koken porcelain chair and was a used chair when he moved in. It was made in the early 1900s. The arm broke once, and Dean had it welded. That was 40 years ago. He’s reupholstered the chair three or four times.

And he has a barber pole, a couple of them actually. Dean explained what the red stripe represents. In the “old days,” barbers also bled people. The bloody rag was hung outside the door so that people knew where to go for bleeding.

When he first opened, haircuts were $1. He now charges $10. On his first day in business, he did 20 haircuts and two shaves. He knew then he was in the right location. California’s Downtown Revitalization Committee came by recently and wanted to give Dean an interest-free loan to spruce up his storefront. Dean said, “Naw, I like it just the way it is.”

Dean was on the committee years ago to build the new 24′ x 40′ parsonage for Paul and his family. Cost: $4,000. Their new sanctuary: $40,000.

Dean intends to continue barbering until the Good Lord says, “That’s enough, Dean.” Paul may get another haircut yet. “No charge, Reverend.”

Contact Curt Swarm at curtswarm@yahoo.com