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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany


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Base’s first African-American barber still cuts hair

By Joycelyn Biggs | | August 14, 2014

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The first African-American barber to work the then-Barber Shop on base arrived at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany in 1968 from Jacksonville, Florida, to very apprehensive patrons.

Henry Davis, barber, American Clipper, is still cutting hair today aboard the base.

Over the years, Davis has seen many changes. One significant change is price.

“When I started here, a haircut was 75 cents,” he reminisced. “That was a long time ago.”

Davis worked at the Barber Shop for 33 years before he retired to pursue another career.

He explained he returned a little more than a year ago to “help out.”

“When you love something, you really can’t just stay away from it,” Davis conceded. Although American Clippers was in need of help when he returned, Davis added, “I love doing this.”

“Initially it was a struggle and it was slow,” he confessed. 

But he quickly won customer approval by letting his work speak for itself.

“Whatever you do, if you do a good job, people will recognize it,” he said.

“Shortly after I arrived here, I remember we had an ‘afro specialist’ come to the shop,” Davis explained with a slight grin on his face. “He was sent here to teach everyone else how to properly cut an afro.”

Davis began to fling his arms in the air, while he shuffled his feet and mimicked holding scissors in his hands to demonstrate the barber’s wild technique. 

“He was funny to watch,” Davis said as he chuckled. “Although the barber was very entertaining, his quality of work was lacking.

 “At the end of the day, people come here to get a haircut, not a side show,” Davis explained.

Once a client received a haircut from the ‘afro specialist,’ the customer inquired if Davis could ‘fix it.’ Correcting the botched haircut earned Davis one of his many faithful customers.

 “It’s a really good feeling when I see a customer come to let me cut their hair and they have been coming here for years and years,” he said.

 Lt. Col. Reginald Dykes, national security agency, 742nd Military Intelligence Brigade, is one of those customers. Although Dykes in now stationed in Fort Meade, Maryland, whenever he is in Albany, Georgia, he makes his way to American Clipper to get a haircut from Davis.

“Now when I come, I also bring my 7- year-old son and let Henry cut his hair as well,” he said. Dykes started getting his hair cut by Davis in the late 1990s, when he was a Reserve Officer Training Corps student at Albany State University.

“I keep coming back because he keeps doing a good job, Dykes said.  “If I know I’m coming to Albany, I try to hold off getting a haircut so I can let Henry do it when I get here.”
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