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An era ends, as Jones Brothers Barbershop closes

By Susan Mustapich | Feb 13, 2020
Photo by: Carol Granger In honor of Lowell Jones Sr., right, who died Feb. 5, and his brother Roger, the barber pole pictured here in the window of their shop on Mechanic St. will spin for the last time on Feb. 13.

CAMDEN — For just over a half-century, the barbershop of Lowell and Roger Jones, overlooking the heart of downtown Camden, was a place to get a haircut and a shave, talk politics, hunting and sports, and where customers were treated like members of the family.

This month, the Jones Brothers Barbershop, located on Mechanic Street, closes, following the retirement of Roger in 2019 and the recent death of Lowell. Lowell Jones Jr. spoke Feb. 11 about his father, Lowell Jones Sr., who died Feb. 5.

The brothers, who came from a family of barbers, opened their first shop nearly 55 years ago. It was located on the top floor of the building at the corner of Main and Commercial streets, where Sea Dog Restaurant is now.

Lowell Jr. remembers walking downtown from the junior high school on Knowlton Street to the shop, on days when he did not have practice, and sitting in the front windows.

“I'd sit there for the remainder of the day in the window area where you could see pretty much the whole town, and read comic books or listen to my father and uncle talking about all kinds of things. Usually it was politics,” he said.

His father had an opinion on just about everything, and the barbershop was a place to share it.

“People liked coming in more for the talk, than the haircut. They obviously thought he was a good barber, but the socializing was the draw,” he said.

About 30 years ago, the building at the corner of Main and Commercial was sold, and the new owner raised the rent considerably, Lowell Jr. said. The brothers moved across the five-way intersection, and established their shop on the third floor above French & Brawn, where they remained thereafter.

In recent years, the barbershop displayed a Trump sign in a window, and former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin's photograph was one of many on the walls.

Lowell Jr. said there were people on the opposite end of the political spectrum who would not get their hair cut there, but there were others who would go in just to hear what the brothers had to say. “It was always fun to listen to the stuff going back and forth,” he said.

His father was very likeable, Lowell Jr. said. “He wasn't fake and he wasn't shy about telling you what he thought and how he thought. He would say, 'I'm going to tell you about the way I think it is, and whether you like it or not, that's my opinion.' It made for a lot of enjoyable times for his customers.”

Conversations ranged well beyond politics, to sports, hunting, fishing and for his father, golf.

Lowell, Sr. felt the customers were all family, and he talked about the people who came in that way, his son said. “That's why he did it for so long, he liked the people. He started talking about retiring in his early 70s, but he enjoyed going in there every day.”

“All ages, whether you were 4, 5 years old, or 80 or 90, he did it all,” he said.

“A haircut would take a good half-hour,” he said, and laughed. “A lot of people didn't have that much hair.”

His father made it clear he was a barber, not a hairdresser. He cut hair plain and simple, and the style was neat and clean, which meant using a razor to cut the hair around the ears and back of the neck.

Up until about five years, ago, Lowell Sr. used to give customers shaves with a straight razor. “It was quite a production. He would lean the barber chair back and lather them up. After he got them all shaved and clean, he'd take a hot towel and wrap it around the face and let that sit there for a little while, and then put the aftershave on.” The straight razors were stored in a leather pouch, and included the type that were sharpened with a leather strap.

When a family brought a child in for a haircut, it was an event, Lowell Jr. said. His father had a bench he put up on the arms of the chair for the small children. Many customers remember getting their first hair cut at the barbershop at age four or five, and are from families where all the generations got their hair cut there.

For children, the reward was either a Tootsie Roll or a lollipop, he said. One of his memories from the days he would read comic books in the window is how he loved to sneak a piece of candy out of the drawer.

In the early 1990s, Jones Brothers Barbershop charged $6 for a haircut. A 2016 blog post on talks about an $8 haircut and the conversation. “Through the years, I have heard some spirited discussions. Sometimes I think the $8 dollar haircut is worth it just to be able to listen in,” the blogger stated.

In 2019-20, the cost of a haircut was $10. Lowell Sr. took pride in giving a good haircut for­ less money, Lowell Jr. said.

“We weren't rich, but we lived well,” he said. His father believed in working to provide for his family and himself, had a huge vegetable garden, and hunted and fished.

Lowell Jr. found out recently that Todd Anderson, the building's owner, raised the rent very little over the decades. Anderson told him this was because the brothers were such good tenants, they paid their rent on time and it was good for French & Brawn's business. “They (the Anderson's) loved the barbershop being there,” he said.

The two brothers had different personalities, Lowell Jr. said. Roger was strictly business; he came in early and left late, and when he went home, he worked in his garden.

Lowell would come in later than Roger, and leave earlier, especially in the warm weather when the days are long and he could go golfing. He loved golf, and was often seen at the Union Country Club in Appleton or Goose River Golf Course in Rockport. He had a group of four or five friends to play with, and his goal was to get to every golf course in the state of Maine. He made it to quite a lot of them, Lowell Jr. said.

Lowell Sr. also loved the Beech Hill area in Rockport, where he was born, and lived nearly all his life. After a divorce from his first wife, he lived in Camden for a number of years, but was always gardening or cutting wood on one of the lots his father had bought on Beech Hill Road and divided for his three sons. After living away from Beech Hill for a while, he built a home there and went back.

While Lowell Sr. saw his four grown children work hard, none would take one of the chairs in the barbershop, Lowell Jr. said. Three earned master's degrees and one daughter is a doctor of ophthalmology.

In 2018, Lowell and Roger told The Camden Herald that they were open most days and did not post exact hours on the door. They said to look up to the third-story windows of their Mechanic Street shop, to the barber pole in the window, and if the pole was spinning, they were in.

In honor and memory of Lowell Sr., and the Jones Brothers Barbershop, the barber pole in the window will spin one last time, on Thursday, Feb. 13.

Lowell Jones, Sr. (Courtesy of: Lowell Jones, Jr.)
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Comments (7)
Posted by: Peter Root | Feb 15, 2020 09:05

Fascinating story. Great trinute

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Feb 14, 2020 12:42

History made in those days with political talk sitting in the barber chair! Sometimes I went to a lady barber in Belfast for a good cut and even though I a lady, was treated with and to, an exquisite lady-like cut. It was the talk that counted! Memories and thanks at that!

Mary "Mickey" (Brown) McKeever ...+:0)....

Posted by: Lee H. Marshall | Feb 14, 2020 12:33

This is a sad time for our small community. I stopped by Jones’ Barber Shop yesterday after seeing this article, thinking I should visit and get a cut. I didn’t know that Lowell’s services were happening, so I never got to say a heartfelt thank you to Roger.

I hoped their niece,Tanya, would take over. I stopped next door to Eric’s for my cut and had no idea the pleasant woman who cut my hair was indeed Tanya until I looked at a past article and saw her picture. She follows in the family footsteps and will be cutting my hair many more times in the future.

I am sorry to hear of Lowell’s passing and to read that we also lost a long-standing business. I will always remember my times at Jones’ with fondness. There were plenty of laughs and interesting discussions while sitting in Roger and Lowell’s chair.

Lee D. Marshall

Posted by: Norman Medina | Feb 14, 2020 10:23

Reading this article is bittersweet. I love Roger and Lowell, and some of the most delightful memories that I have in the midcoast area is the time I spent in their shop. For example, I learned the definition of rhino from Lowell. I had no idea what a rhino was, he had to explain to me why Susan is a rhino. I also remember Lowell asking me, with a straight face, how I would like the hair in back to be trimmed, offering to give it a farmer's cut.

I do remember seeing how a farmer's trim looks like from behind and being a tad bit shocked. I may have been wearing a farmer's haircut for a while, but it's all good. I loved every haircut I ever had there.

Condolences and much love to the Jones family. RIP buddy, you will be missed.

Posted by: Ronald Pendleton | Feb 14, 2020 04:50

I grew up down the road from the Jones' on Beech Hill, I remember playing in their barn and seeing the old fashioned barber chairs they had overhead, I remember them sharpening their straight razors on the strop to shave the men's necks. Of course I grew up having my hair cut from one of the brothers or their dad. RIP Mr. Jones, thanks for the good memories.

Posted by: Daniel G Benson | Feb 13, 2020 22:06

Since I was eleven, I have had hundreds haircuts from all the brothers for the past 54 years. The haircut was just part of the experience; the conversations during the haircut was worth much more than the fee for the haircut itself. Once, while getting a haircut I asked to rinse my head off in the sink. The water was hard to turn on and when I finally turned the spray on I about drowned both of them from head to toe. Thanks for the hundreds of haircuts you all gave me!

Posted by: Stephen Z Heddericg | Feb 13, 2020 14:10

Nice tribute.


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