Hair Tonics and Tootsie Rolls: A Pioneering Woman Talks Barber Shop in White River
Deborah Guthrie has been cutting hair since 1974, when Richard Nixon — who could have used her help with his ‘do — resigned the American presidency. The mother of three grown children, she has kind eyes and a sure way with scissors. Oh, and if you behave, she’ll give you a Tootsie Pop.
I stopped in at Junction Barber Shop in White River Junction to watch her cut the hair of 7-year-old Cyrus Oktay, ask her a few questions and get a buzz myself. The following is an edited transcript:
Q: When you were a kid, did you dream about being a barber?
A: Not, not at all. I remember going to the barber shop with my dad, though. You’d see all these bottles of different hair tonics. I remember I was fascinated, wondering what they were.
Q: How did you end up becoming a barber?
A: I was actually a dental assistant and was not happy with it. Someone came in that owned a hair salon who my mom had helped get her papers from Canada to work in the U.S. She said, ‘Why don’t you come apprentice with me?’ ”
Q: What’s the difference between a cosmetologist (she is one) and a barber (she’s one of those, too)?
A: Back years ago, you wouldn’t see a woman cutting hair in a barber shop. I was actually the first woman to cut hair at Walt & Ernie’s Barber Shop in Hanover. I worked there 19 years.
Q: What’s the best part of your job?
A: People. You have to like working with people
Q: The most unusual request you get?
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