GALLIPOLIS — Harold Montgomery, Gallipolis businessman and president of the Gallia County Board of Commissioners, celebrated 50 years Monday as a barber at his business in the 200 block of Second Avenue in Gallipolis.
“I’ve actually been on this block since Aug. 15, 1966,” said Montgomery, of Crown City. “I started working in Columbus for a short time until I found an opening in Gallipolis with John Conley. At that time, you had to work an apprenticeship under a master barber. So, I worked my apprenticeship with John Conley, which was a year and a half, and then bought into the business.”
Conley eventually retired and left the business with Montgomery. The original shop was at 252 Second Ave. and the business was moved in 1979 to 244 Second Ave. Montgomery’s Barber Shop has been there ever since. According to Montgomery he began cutting hair at the age of 18 in the 200 block of Second Avenue.
When Montgomery was first learning to become a barber, he said one had to complete 1,800 hours of training at barber college, then take a state board test to get an apprentice license. One had to work 18 months under a master barber and go back and be retested to get a master’s license. Montgomery attended the Huntington Barber College in Huntington, W.Va.
Montgomery said the life of a barber just seemed to be the right direction for him and he has never regretted it.
“I enjoy meeting people,” Montgomery said about his career. “I’m really a people person. I really enjoy kids. I have customers now that I gave their first haircuts and they’re bringing in their children and even grandchildren.”
The barber said he had, at times, cut the hair of families going back for five generations.
“I coached a lot of youth ball, basketball, Little League baseball and I have a lot of those kids I used to coach bring in their children (for haircuts),” Montgomery said. “It’s been a remarkable journey and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
Montgomery has also served as a county commissioner for roughly 18 years.
“I’ve always been interested in politics and wanted to have a part in the direction our community was going,” he said. “(Being a commissioner) just seemed like the way to do that. I feel that I get a good read on the pulse of the community here (in his shop) with all sections of the county with both (political) parties. With the interaction with our customers, I feel we get the best read of the county.”
Montgomery has three employees and currently works three days a week at the shop while also attending to family and county affairs. The barber said at one time he had a colleague named David Beaver who worked with him but passed away two years ago this week. Beaver worked with Montgomery for 27 years. When Beaver worked with Montgomery, they liked to say they had more than 100 years of combined barbering experience. Currently, he and his colleagues have a combined 80 years of barbering experience.
Montgomery said he remembers his first customers in Gallipolis as being Morris Haskins and C. Leon Saunders.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.