Time to pass on the scissors for local barber: Lawrence Hodge ready for retirement

Published 9:41 am Monday, October 7, 2019

By CY Peters

A few years before the most famous barber of all time — Floyd Lawson — was made a TV star, a couple of Carter County men were laying the footsteps to becoming the most famous barbers in East Tennessee. Everyone remembers Floyd. He was the slow-paced, somewhat absent-minded barber in the series’ fictional town of Mayberry. The real Floyd was Russell Hiatt, who cut hair in Mayberry (Mt. Airy, NC), and passed away in 2016 after working more than 70 years at Floyd’s Barbershop beginning in 1946.

No matter how much you love to work and enjoy your job, there comes a time when you say enough is enough and it’s time to do more fishing and hunting. For many barbers, opening an independent barbershop is the ultimate goal. This is the time when you can express your creative talent as a completely independent artist and craftsperson. You can set your own prices and potentially earn like the pros, go to international barbering events, give out your own business card, and develop a list of clients. Opening your own barbershop is an exciting prospect, and as an up-and-coming professional you should be prepared to make an investment in your future.

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Lawrence Hodge and John D. Snyder began barber school in 1958 and have been cutting hair for more than 60 years. This past week Lawrence hung up his scissors and John D. has cut down to one day a week. Snyder, who is 83, says he still has between 20 and 30 customers a week and it’s hard to tell them no. So he’ll keep cutting and he blames Hodge for the extra work. “With Lawrence retiring he’s sending me some of his customers, like Judge Hill, whose hair Hodge has been cutting for over 40+years.”

Hodge started out in Eastside just past the school in 1959. Snyder did the same making a dollar a head. He took a cut to .85 cents a head when he opened his own shop in Valley Forge. “I figured if I could save some money I could buy a home. I started saving one hundred dollars a month and before long I was able to buy my own home,” Snyder said. Snyder joined Lawrence and Terry Miller on Broad Street at T & L Barbers, a shop owned by Lawrence and Terry. They worked together over 40 years. “We enjoy cutting hair and talking to people,” Hodge stated. “It’s hard to quit a job you really enjoy, that’s why I have stayed around so long.”

“We had ten in our family and when I was in high school I went to Johnson County to play football. I made All-Conference and was working in an auto repair shop when someone asked me if I was going to do this my whole life,” Snyder shared. John knew Russell Arney, who was in Barber School, and he decided to learn a trade and become a barber. “I wasn’t always a barber. I quit for a few years and was in the grocery business. Then one day I was at the T&L Barber Shop when Lawrence’s waiting area was full. He told me to grab some scissors and start cutting and I’ve been a barber since then,” said Snyder.”

“Gas was about .20 cents a gallon back then,” Hodge recalled, “but I raised a family on about $4000 a year. Three children and as a business owner there wasn’t benefits like life insurance, retirement plan or 401k’s back then.” Snyder added, “Chewing tobacco was about .25 cents a pack then and just recently I paid $8.42 for a pouch.”

Kim Birchfield said, “Lawrence is my friend but more important, he’s one of the best men I know. He’s a man that loves his family and his wife but also loves spending time with his friends. We never eat our meals without Lawrence either praying or calling on someone to pray. John D. is also a good friend of mine and a fine Christian man. We get together every Friday morning and eat breakfast at Nancy’s Restaurant.”

Both men like to hunt and fish and Hodge is a big Unaka basketball supporter. He follows them and when they won the state in 2004, Hodge was in the stands with his Ranger hat on cheering on the team he used to play for. Hodge was also a school bus driver for over 20 years and he and J.D. both served as a county commissioner. Both have kids and grandkids they want to take hunting and fishing.

Hodge was a member of Hunter First Baptist Church for more than 60 years where he served as a Deacon and Sunday School Superintendent. He currently attends Lynn Valley Baptist Church. He retired from Broad Street Barber Shop, owned by Skip Walker.