- Associated Press - Sunday, June 7, 2015

HORSE CAVE, Ky. (AP) - Bill Veach and Buddy Carter have both worked as barbers for more than 50 years.

Veach, who owns Horse Cave Barber Shop on East Main Street, has been in business for 57 years, while Carter, who owns Carter Barber Shop on South Dixie Highway, has been in business for 59 years.

Carter grew up in the Shady Grove community of Metcalfe County and followed in his father’s footsteps when choosing a career.

“My dad was a barber and I needed to do something. I was thinking about marriage, so I went to barber college,” he said.

Veach grew up in the Fountain Run community of Monroe County and chose to be a barber because “I wanted to.”

After high school, Veach spent two years in the Army. When he finished his military service, he worked at a couple of factories in Louisville before choosing to go to barber school.

Originally, Veach’s barber shop in Horse Cave was where a portion of the American Cave Museum is now. He had been in that same space for 33 years. When museum officials approached him about buying the barber shop, he sold it to them and moved his business up the next block, keeping it on the same side of the street.

Carter bought the building where his barber shop is on South Dixie when he was in his early 20s. He renovated it and leased part of it to a dentist.

At one time Carter had another barber working for him.

Veach was one of three barbers in his shop in the beginning. Now they both work alone.

Veach divided his time between barbering and farming.

“I farmed on the side for about 48 to 49 years,” Veach said. His barber shop is open most of the week, except on Wednesdays.

“I used to farm on Wednesdays,” he said.

Carter’s barber shop is open Monday through Friday and up until noon on Saturday.

When people ask him when is his shop open, he says this: “I tell them I don’t cut hair between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., because I have a dentist office over here and the girls from the dentist office come over and have lunch with me and we watch the soap opera,” he said. Carter has a large television housed in a cabinet in front of the barber chairs in his shop. The soap opera they all watched was “All My Children.”

Aside from having a television, Carter also has his letterman’s jacket hanging on the wall of the shop. It is bright green with a large “C” on the front. He received it for playing basketball at the former Center High School in Metcalfe County.

When asked what position he played, he said, “I tell everyone I jumped center, which is a lie. I’m short,” he said, with a grin. I’ve got a sense of humor. I played guard. I was a little fella.”

In Veach’s barber shop, a large plastic container sits on the counter by the door. In it are Dum-Dum suckers, which he gives to children when they come to get their hair cut and sometimes to adults, if they want one.

Both barbers have claimed to cut many heads of hair in a day’s time.

“I have cut as many as 50-head of hair in a day and then go to the farm and farm,” Veach said, adding that was typically on a Saturday. “When you like what you are doing, it’s not really work.”

Carter once cut 56-head of hair in one day. He attributes that to Horse Cave being a busy little town at one time.

“When I came here this road here was the main road,” he said, pointing to South Dixie Highway. “There was no I-65. There were 10 service stations on this road from north of town to south of town. Every building in town was occupied. There were no empty buildings.”

Now there are several empty buildings and Carter attributes that to the closing of the tobacco barns. “That’s what killed Horse Cave. It’s not the Interstate,” he said.

Both say business is not what it used to be. Because Horse Cave is not the economic center it was at one time.

Carter and Veach have both been in business long enough each have cut hair for five generations of one family. Both also claim to be good with children.

“I have awful good luck with kids,” Veach said. He recalled one child who screamed and squalled. “You could hear him to the red light,” he said.

He calmed that child’s fears, as well as others who are afraid to have their hair cut, by telling them this: “If I hurt you in any way, I’ll let you hurt me back.”

This one particular child stopped crying and let Veach cut his hair. Before he left the barber shop, he gave Veach a hug. “That’s when I cried just a little, but I didn’t let him know it,” he said.

Carter says he has a good way with children, too.

“I carry on with them and get them at ease,” he said.

The barbers both claim the one thing they like best about barbering is the people they meet, even though sometimes Veach can’t remember their names.

“I forget their names, but I don’t forget a haircut,” he said.

Neither Carter nor Veach plan to retire. Both want to continue coming to their barber shops for as long as they possibly can.

“I like the people and I don’t want to quit, really,” Veach said.

Carter says his barber shop is almost like home to him and it would be something he would miss if he were to retire.

“I just come here to get out of Dodge,” he said.

___

Information from: Glasgow Daily Times, http://www.glasgowdailytimes.com

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