Charles Hagler is definitely one of a kind – in more ways than one. At the age of 19 he had purchased his own car and was in the process of buying his first home. Some people live their whole life without accomplishing those two feats.
Hagler left high school when he was 17 years old and one week later, he was in Tallahassee at Tallahassee Barber College. He completed barber college and received his license in February, 1963. His first official work day for his dad at Acme Barber Shop on Market Street in Marianna was February 8, 1963. Hagler stayed there until March 21, 1967 when he moved to the shop where he’s presently located. Hagler says that location has been pretty good to him for 51 years.
Hagler says, “I worked there on Market Street at Acme Barber Shop for my daddy a little over four years before I bought out here where I am now. Hagler has many memories of both locations including lunch downtown daily at his choice of Hightower’s Drug Store or Otto’s Diner. He vividly recalls prices back then, “I can still remember a fountain coke for nine cents, I didn’t drink coffee back then. Like I told somebody the other day, we were talking about haircuts and he asked me how much one was back then. I said $1 and he said man, I wish I could get one for that now. A very quick witted Hagler said he quickly told him he did too if you could buy now what you could back then now for those same prices, and added, “It’d raise my standard of living I’m sure. I can remember going to Hightower’s, and you could buy 11 fountain cokes, give them a dollar and get a penny back.”
Hagler was sure to be a natural as a barber since his dad was a barber on and off for 75 years. Hagler said, “But now he started when he was 14 and you didn’t have to have a license back then. Most of that time he only worked like one day a week because he taught school for 32 years. He just worked on Saturdays. All of my time, I’ve been full time. I’ve slowed down now because I only work four days a week. But by the time I get here and I leave, it’s about 40 hours a week I’m putting in. After you get my age that’s enough I turned 73 last October.
He recalls his longest running client, “I’ve been cutting this one man’s hair for over 55 years, started cutting his hair in barber college. We were going to barber college. It’s Gene Thomas from Altha, I’ve been cutting his hair either August or Sept of 1962.” Hagler says he never asked Thomas to reciprocate, “I cut mine most of the time but every now and then I get my grandson to cut the back of it, the part that I can’t reach but mostly I just cut it off. When you get my age, comfort is a lot more important than style.”
Hagler says he didn’t choose his career based on his dad but he adds it probably played a part in it, “I knew I didn’t want to farm because it was too hot out there. The Summer before I had done some logging and I had got tired of yellow jackets and red bugs, mosquitoes and ticks. I got to thinking that I think I might go to barber school. They usually in a building and they don’t get rain on them, they have air conditioning and heat in the winter time. And I thought I bet you don’t get any yellowjackets or ticks and sure enough I’ve not had a tick on me in 55 years. My mama was raised on a farm and she’d work you to death and I had done figured out I didn’t want none of that. Which, now I love to farm but back then it was all manual labor so I didn’t do it because of my daddy really but that probably had an issue in it. It worked out pretty good for me. I’ve been fairly successful at it. I’ve worked a lot of years but I’ve made a pretty decent living.”
Charles is married to Phyllis Morse Hagler. They celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary last August 8. Hagler says, “When we got married I had a been cutting hair and I had a car and a government house when we got married. When you’re 19 and got a brand-new convertible and a three-bedroom house with a carport you’re in pretty good shape.”
Hagler’s first car purchase is another story all on its own, “I left the barber shop in town one Thursday afternoon. Back then everybody downtown got off at dinner and I probably looked like I was 14 probably. So I went over to the Chevrolet place and none of them salesmen would have anything to do with me so I walked over to the Ford place and the same thing happened there. So, I walked down the hill at Bull Cowart’s and I was out there kicking tires and old Bull walked out there and he asked me, “Can I help you son?” And I told him I’d kinda like to buy a car. He asked me if I had any money for a down payment. And I told I had $800. He smiled and said come right on in here, I got right what you need right here in the showroom. There was a little white with a blue top convertible and I said, I don’t think I can afford it. He told me what my payments would be a month, he wrote it all up and I signed it and I drove it home. That was the week after I turned 19 October. I didn’t know this still later. I thought I had bought it all by myself and when I paid it off and got my paperwork from Citizen’s State Bank, Bull Cowart had co-signed with me and I didn’t even know it.”
His story of moving out from his parents is equally as entertaining, “I was looking for an apartment and there wasn’t a whole lot of them back then. You know when you live at home, you have to pretty much do what your momma and daddy say do. They had an ad in the paper one day about these houses in Riverview, kinda like government houses, so much closing cost and down payment was all you needed. I went to see this guy and he asked how old I was. I told him 19 and he said he didn’t know if I’d qualify. I told him it didn’t say how old you had to be just that you had to have a down payment and closing costs and I had that. He told me he’d check on it. A few days later he called me and said when I got ready to come on down and we’d fill out the paperwork. It was a done deal. I didn’t even have a key, only thing I bought was a stove and refrigerator. That was in late spring or early summer and that August we got married.” Hagler says it was in 1975 when he bought the farm where he and Phyllis still live today, “I wasn’t sure she would want to live on a farm because she had lived in town her whole life and I wasn’t sure she was going to stay on a farm. But now she wouldn’t leave. It took me awhile to get her to get enough gas in her car to get back to town. She had lived in town her whole life and gas stations everywhere and out there, you got to have gas to get back to town.”
Hagler and his wife have one child, Scarlett Floyd who is married to Holt Floyd, three grandchildren Kacee Floyd, Karlee Floyd, and Harrison Floyd. They are the very proud great grandparents to JC Pittman who just the mention of his name brings an extra brightness to Hagler’s eyes. Kacee is a middle school teacher at Malone School and Karlee is scheduled to graduate from pharmacy school this year. Harrison is attending college in Tallahassee.
When asked about his plans to retire, Hagler says, “If my health stays good I want to stay at least until my grandkids all get their education. I am proud to help them out a little bit while they are going to school. I enjoy working now because I don’t have to and it’s a lot more fun when you work because you want to and not because you have to.”