The locations have changed, but he’s still on the same street, doing the same work. For 61 years, the people of Mars Hill have counted on Basil Twombly to keep them looking neat and trim.
He came from Island Falls in 1934, via a six-week barbering course at Vaughn’s Barber School in Portland, to establish his business in Pierce’s Restaurant and Barber Shop.
The barbershop was separate from the restaurant, he said. “They were just in the same building, but that’s what we called it.”
He stayed there 20 years.
“Then I moved to work with a fellow up the other side of town, in the John Shaw Block, and then down to the Nutter Block,” where he remains.
Twombly will be 83 in August. Neither a pacemaker nor surgery for cancer of the leg keeps him off his feet. He works four days a week, two hours each morning and afternoon, his hands dancing around heads of fifth-generation customers.
He took a few months off after surgery, but his doctor advised him to keep working. He feels better when he works.
He’s seen changes, and many trends have come full circle.
“When I started, they all had to have their necks shaved all around,” Twombly said during a telephone interview one day last week between morning and afternoon appointments.
“Then they went to the tapered look. Now we’re back to what you’d call the mushroom.” In the early years, beauticians came to barbers. “Women used to have a couple of perms a year, and get haircuts in between. Now they have perms every three weeks or so,” he observed.
Twombly still has some original customers, but has outlived many. He enjoys the fact that fourth and fifth generations of the same family come to him. He is always comfortable with customer requests.
“I never had much problem changing from one style to the other.
“I used to shave quite a few people, but since I’ve been sick, I don’t do that anymore. When I first started out, everybody in town got shaved in the barbershop before they went to work. And all the young people when they went to a dance … got a massage, a shave, a haircut and smelly stuff on their hair.”
He and Jennie have one daughter and one grandchild. He has no intention of retiring. “You know what happens when you retire,” he said. `You sit in a rocking chair.”
As long as he is able, Basil Twombly will be in his shop, a fixture in a community where, today, he may cut hair that has the familiar texture and quality of the customer’s great-great-grandfather.
The Maine State Board of Education is seeking nominees for the James C. McCampbell Award for Exemplary Library Programs to be presented at its September board meeting.
The award honors a school whose library exemplifies standards reflected in the “Maine School Library Media Programs” book, published by the Maine Educational Media Association and the Maine State Library.
Named for a former board member, the award includes a $200 contribution to the library. Applications may be obtained by calling 287-5903 and must be returned to the State Board of Education by May 1.
April 30 is a special date for the March of Dimes WalkAmerica ’95. It marks the 25th anniversary of what sponsors consider the biggest walking event in the country, and the first of its kind. On that Sunday, people from Maine to California will walk in support of healthier babies.
Locally, the walk is changing routes and names to become the Bangor/Brewer WalkAmerica. The 6.2-mile, 10-kilometer route has been amended to begin and end at the Brewer Auditorium, with walkers heading toward the Chamberlain Bridge, winding through downtown Bangor, to Hancock Street, over the old Iron Bridge and back to the Brewer Auditorium. The walk begins at 9 a.m.
More than a changed name and route, it’s a changed financial goal that committee member Bob Potts wants people to remember. This year, it’s the largest ever at $40,000.
Local merchants are helping by participating in a “Sneaker Campaign” in which individuals pay $1 for a name printed on a sneaker displayed at that business. Potts wants walkers to get their pledges in as soon as possible. Forms may be picked up at any area Key Bank and several local businesses.
Meanwhile, Pat Johnston wants people in the Newport area to know that, for the fifth straight year, the Bar Harbor Inn has donated a weekend for two as an incentive to participate in that area’s Walk for Healthier Babies which begins at 9 a.m. at Nokomis High School in Newport.
Several other prizes for lucky walkers have been donated by area merchants. Information on this WalkAmerica may be obtained by calling Johnston at 938-2616. The Standpipe, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; 990-8288.