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Three generations, 120 years of barbering

By Walter Geiger Billy Bankston Sr. opened Bankston’s Barber Shop in downtown Barnesville in 1938 at the age of 20. He had been aged beyond his years in the Army where he survived in the harsh conditions at the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. ’Daddy always said he made it through because he had grown up in the woods, hunting day and night. He knew to keep his head down,’ Billy Jr. said. Billy Jr. went to barber school and went to work in his dad’s shop as an apprentice at age 16. He had good reason. Gordon Military had 900 cadets and they all had to have haircuts once a week. In 1969, Billy went to classes on Roffler hair styling method as the demand for the ‘˜high and tight’ cut diminished with the military school’s enrollment. He learned more progressive looks and opened The Hair Hut in 1969. The Hair Hut closed its doors Saturday after 43 years and Billy Jr. moved on to the new Bankston’s Barber Shop and Salon just up the street at 13 Market St. where a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Monday morning. He will work with his son, Dan, the third generation of the family to go into the barbering business. Billy Sr. died some years back but, between the three Bankstons, there is a total of 120 years experience. Dan went to Southern Crescent Tech and began working with his dad in May 17. He is taking over ownership of the operation and bringing the Bankston name back to downtown Barnesville. Dan and Billy Jr. have done extensive renovations on the building where they will be joined by three new stylists and a massage therapist. Featured in the new shop’s decor is an old photo of Billy Sr. cutting the late Floyd Brown’s hair in 1948. Also on display are Billy Sr.’s original barber chair and an antique Coke box that was in the original shop. It still functions and will dish out cold drinks to customers in the old fashioned bottles. ’I takes more electricity to run that old Coke box than everything else in here but it is worth it,’ Billy Jr. said. Grand opening ceremonies at the new shop are set for Saturday from 2-4 p.m. Citizens are invited to drop by, look around, enjoy some refreshments and, of course, get a haircut. That is a Bankston specialty that dates back almost 100 years.

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