Saturday, July 7, 2018

George Singleton weighs in on President Bill Clinton's $200 haircut

President Bill Clinton

(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “Some advice to the president about those haircuts” was originally published in the June 10, 1993 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

President Bill Clinton holding up air traffic for a considerable time while he was given a $200 haircut is beyond my comprehension.

As you have probably guessed, he didn’t ask my permission about the haircut, but I think that maybe I could have shed some light about him finding a cheaper barber, and I certainly could have saved him some money and time. I have been to two state fairs and four goat-ropings, and I have never seen anyone pay $200 for a haircut, even if it was paid for with taxpayers’ money.

In looking back over the years, there are several avenues that President Clinton could have taken that would have saved him at least $199.85. He could even gotten a good haircut for nothing.

He could have called on my oldest sister to give him this haircut; this one would have cost him not one red cent. And he would have been through with it in less than five minutes, thus saving much valuable time.

The haircut that my older sister would have given him was known as the “gravy bowl haircut.” She would have sat the president down on a nail keg and placed a round bowl on the top of his head. The length of his side burns would have depended on the size bowl that my sister had chosen. The smaller the bowl, the longer it would be before he needed another haircut.

With the “gravy bowl haircut,” he wouldn’t have to worry about his hair falling down in his eyes while he was out jogging. And he wouldn’t have to shake his head from side to side when he was talking, like perhaps he might have a black gnat in one of his ears.

Had he chosen not to get the gravy-bowl special, he might could have gotten me to contact my first barber to do the honors. My first haircut cost one whole dime. This barber only cut hair on Saturday and Sunday afternoons; these hours would have saved our president valuable working time, also.

Regardless of the weather, the haircut took place out on the front gallery, or the front porch, as it is now referred to in these modern days. President Clinton would not have had to stay on the noisy airplane. He would have sat on a high, shaky old stool that always seemed about to fall.

He would have had a bleached fertilizer sack placed around his neck to keep the hair from falling down his back. A pair of dull hand clippers pulled out just about as much hair as they cut. After the dull clippers would have come the long scissors of the barber’s wife. They, too, could have used some sharpening.

This barber never spoke above a whisper unless it was time to collect for the haircut. Then, the two words, “one dime,” rang out loud and clear. I never will forget that fateful day when he informed the boys of the community that his haircuts had gone up to 15 cents.

I had to walk all the way back home to get that other nickel. We didn’t know what the world was coming to – Mr. Morgan going up on his haircuts. I was afraid that I would have to go back to my older sister’s gravy-bowl specials.

Had President Clinton used old man Morgan, even at that inflated price he would have saved $199.85. Besides, he might have been able to hear what the old man was talking about; no one else in the community could. And, too, the old man might have given our president some good advice on how to lower the national debt; that is, if the president could decipher that low mumbling.

I’m sure that our president is aware of the fact that time has a way of changing everything. My first trip to the barber shop in Sweet Water was like entering another world.

There, you could sit in a genuine barber’s chair – one of those that could be pumped up. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. I was really frightened; after the haircut, the barber started sharpening that straight razor. I didn’t know that he was just going to shave my neck.

Talk about inflation! When you stepped down from that pumped up barber’s chair, the cost of the haircut was a whopping 25 cents. But, then, you got your neck powdered with a real soft brush and some good-smelling powder, the clippers were sharp, also.

President Clinton wouldn’t have had to worry about trying to decipher the barber’s words. He would have about have been too busy trying to answer all the questions presented to him. By the time he had gotten that haircut, my friend, the barber, would have known ore about the duties of the president than Mr. Clinton does.

Here was a man that knew everything; there was nothing about anyone in the country town of Sweet Water that this barber didn’t know. After listening to this man for a few minutes, President Clinton would have probably placed him as the head of the FBI or the CIA.

When I got my first haircut there at the barber shop in Sweet Water, I was lucky. My older brothers had been there before me. Mr. Otis already knew more about me than I did. So I didn’t have to answer all those questions; in fact, I learned some things about myself that day that I didn’t even know.

And then, had not the president not liked any of the above barbers that I have recommended for him, he could have chose that barber that gave me my first haircut when I entered the U.S. Marine Corps. Now here was a man that didn’t ask any questions; he also didn’t offer any advice. All he did was scream at you in a loud, ugly voice. However, he did ask me how I wanted my sideburns. After telling him how I wanted them cut, he calmly shaved them off and handed them to me and told me to fix them the way I wanted them fixed.

Now, Mr. President, you really would have saved all your money with this barber; the haircut would not have cost you anything. For several months, you could have combed your hair with a bath cloth. Your hair would never get in our eyes when you jog, and air traffic would not have been held up that day when you got that $200 trim.

And, too, I feel reasonably sure that he could have given you some sound advice on how to handle the growing national debt. He solved my sideburns problem before you could say “four trillion.”

Just think how much money you could have saved and how quickly you and your staff could have been on your way if you had only asked me for advice. I know you didn’t think to call; maybe next time you will remember.

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born to Vincent William Singleton and Frances Cornelia Faile Singleton, during a late-night thunderstorm, on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County, graduated from Sweet Water High School in 1946, served as a U.S. Marine paratrooper in the Korean War, worked as a riverboat deckhand, lived for a time among Apache Indians, moved to Monroe County on June 28, 1964 and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from June 28, 1964 to Dec. 14, 1987. He was promoted from the enlisted ranks to warrant officer in May 1972. For years, Singleton’s columns, titled “Monroe County history – Did you know?” and “Somewhere in Time” appeared in The Monroe Journal, and he wrote a lengthy series of articles about Monroe County that appeared in Alabama Life magazine. It’s believed that his first column appeared in the March 25, 1971 edition of The Monroe Journal. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)

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