by Gene Benedict
Sometime back, say in the mid-80’s, I first met Larry. Larry was a barber. Back in South Carolina Larry had been a hairdresser. Larry and his wife Cindy moved to Cedar Key. Larry’s wife was a nurse in Gainesville. They bought a house, a cracker house, near the old church that is now Herman Well’s woodshop.  Cindy drove back and forth from Cedar Key to her work in Gainesville. Larry set up a barbershop in the front room of the house.

Larry was a member of the “Breakfast Club” in Don Fansler’s Captain’s Table bar and restaurant on Dock Street. The restaurant opened at eleven o’clock daily. The “Breakfast Club” hung out before hours in the bar. The bar didn’t open till eleven, and the club members were on an honor system, serving themselves.

Larry had never giving me a haircut, but one day he brought his tools into the club and gave everyone at the bar a haircut. I was late getting there that day, and those at the bar were covered in hair, as was the floor. When Bernice arrived to bartend, she made the guys clean themselves and the bar. She was livid and they were embarrassed.

I thought that was funny. And one day I decided to go to Larry’s shop for a haircut. His hours were from eight to ten in the morning. There was a catch. I soon found out the earlier you got to Larry’s the better the chances of getting a good cut. You see, Larry had to have his “Electric Kool-Aid” before he cut your hair. It helped him to control his shakes. And of course, he always offered customers his “Kool-Aid”, being a generous host and enjoying our company.

The thing was, he didn’t stop after his first drink.  The “Electric Kool-Aid” was a combination of orange Kool-Aid® and vodka, hence, the need to catch him early in his day if you wanted a decent haircut.

I had a second haircut from Larry. He got about half done with my hair when one of his friends came by. They started talking about fishing. And they got to drinking “Kool-Aid”.  Larry kept drinking and after a while, he took off his apron, brushed my hair off, shook my sheet and dismissed me. We were done. He was going fishing.

The next day I went to Larry’s and insisted he finish my haircut. He did. It was still early in the morning and his shakes were under control. Actually, his haircuts were pretty good. You just needed to get started early.

There are many stories about Larry, most quite funny. In addition to being a barber, he was a charter captain with a Sanctioned License, meaning he could catch fish for sport, sell fish commercially and as a captain, marry folks. He was also quite a chef.

I’ll write about those exploits another time…

Meanwhile, keep your eyes open for “Trouble in Cedar Key.” And I’ll keep mine open looking for you… 

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Copyright © by Gene Benedict - 18 March 2015