A cut above, Bobby Dicken, local Barber

Published 3:55 pm Monday, October 17, 2022

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BY C.Y. Peters
Star Correspondent
 Barbershops were around as early as 296 B.C. as Greek men gathered in a marketplace to get their hair and beards trimmed while debating and gossiping. Barbershops also have some history in the medical world since barbers once served as surgeons and dentists. The first barbering services were performed by Egyptians in 5000 B.C. with instruments they had made from oyster shells or sharpened flint.  Most barbers now specialize in cutting men’s scalp hair instead of facial hair.
One local barber located just across the Carter County line is Bobby Dicken of Cherokee Barber Shop.  The shop is located at 2700 S Roan St, Ste 310, Johnson City.  Most days he’s open from 8:30 unit 5 or until the last victim, the customer is served.  Saturday is football time starting at noon, so you better get there early if you’re getting your hair cut on Saturday.  The same goes for Friday afternoons, better be there before 4 pm.  Dicken is a TSSAA referee and usually has football games on Friday nights, sometimes he has to leave early.  Owning your own business, you can do that.    During the first year of a Barbers profession, you can almost starve, trying to build up a clientele.  Dicken got his start in the hair-cutting business when his sister went to the University of Florida.  He liked warm weather and didn’t want his sister to go along.  She insisted he attend Barber School in Ocala, something he had always wanted to do.
Dicken attended White High School in Sparta, Tennessee, his dad was a minister of music, and one of his last teachings was at Grace Baptist in Elizabethton, bringing him to this area.  He recalled cleaning the floors at the church one time and when the treasure paid him with a check, it said for stripping.   One of Dicken’s funny jokes he tells while giving a haircut.   Don’t be in a hurry when you visit Cherokee Barber Shop, if someone comes in and talks sports, he may stop cutting and show photos of sports players that cover his walls.
Cherokee Barbershop is like a sports museum, with hundreds of golf balls, football helmets, and photos of coaches, and players even as far back as the 1960s when ETSU beat Terry Bradshaw in the Grantland Rice Bowl.  He has had football programs from 1949 at ETSU and Milligan College.      “Bobby is a good fellow,” said Jerry Wright of Erwin.  “I have been coming here since he opened,” Erwin said on his way out the door.  One of Bobby’s customers, Brad Irwin just got up from the chair, wrote him a check, stamped it, and put it in the cash drawer, kind of like self-service.  Irwin said the first time he came to Cherokee all he had was a credit card, and Dicken didn’t take cards.  He had to come back and pay and Dicken was ok with that.         The phone rings continuously asking if they can come and get a cut.  The one Barber chair is all Dicken needs, he makes everyone feel at home.  If he likes you, you may be there for an hour and 45 minutes talking sports, if he doesn’t, 15 minutes is all it takes for a cut.
Dicken has had his shop for ten years now but has been cutting hair for over 20.   Not only is Dicken a TSSAA official but he is the secretary of the local Region one football and the secretary of the National football foundation.  He has helped with getting football athletes in our area nearly $40,000 in scholarship money. Last year over $6,000 was awarded to local high school athletes.
“I meet a lot of important people through the foundation and big-time coaches,” said Dicken,  He enjoys his work, and his job, and loves helping kids through the foundation.  Bobby Dicken left the football field a few years ago, but every Friday night you can see him on a clock, still enjoying football and living the dream.  One of his favorite quotes is “make today the day that years from now you say, “remember when…”

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