, Muskogee, OK

August 12, 2013

Local barber retires after more than five decades

By April Reynolds
Times Correspondent

— FORT GIBSON — Bud Huggins will be celebrating his years serving generations of families as the local barber with a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ.

Huggins’ time as a fixture in Fort Gibson has made him close to a legend.

“I have cut four generations of families hair,” Huggins said.

Not only did he cut hair, but he also is a great listener and a town confidante, his customers say.

“The barber shops were known as the gossip centers, mine was like one, but it was the truth,” Huggins said. “I never repeated what was told to me in privacy.”

Huggins enjoyed all the friends and memories that were made over the years.

“I don’t claim to be Will Rogers, but I feel the same way he did, I never met anybody I didn’t like,” he said, adding that what he liked most about all those years cutting hair was the people and friends.

He remembers watching his dad take a straight razor and trim the horses manes and watching family friends Carl Hines and Oscar Hines cut hair also.

Barbers had a huge influence in his life.

So in October of 1958, at the age of 23, Huggins started the Huggins Barber Shop, which later became Huggins Clip Joint.

“The flat top was my specialty, and when I started, it was 75 cents,” he said.

Carol Tomlinson, one of Huggins’ siblings, said that there were always people lined up, and was a true loyal friend to people.

He may have been a barber, but Huggins could also serve as the town’s historian.

“We call him if we want to know anything about anywhere or anyone because he always knows, he is the biggest story teller you have ever known,” Tomlinson said.

Huggins has lived in Fort Gibson for 78 years and has always been within three miles of where he was born.

Born on June 29, 1935, Huggins has experienced the history first-hand.

“We keep the records,” Huggins said of his friend Henry Dye and himself.

Huggins said that the streets that run north to south are named after generals, and those that run east to west named after trees.

Willey Street, for instance, was actually named after the man who gave all the land to the city of Fort Gibson for the Cherokee Indian Cemetery, although Huggins said that after the original sign had fallen, they replaced it with the wrong spelling.

Huggins is like a human archive of information, but not just on town history. He also can tell you how to catch a big fish out by the dam, fix up a hot rod, or pick around on the guitar.

And he really enjoys country western music, from Hank Williams to Eric Church, and was there when Merle Haggard played in Muskogee.

Most of all he enjoys helping other people and is appreciative of all his experiences and support from the town of Fort Gibson.

“I want the town to know how much I appreciate them patronizing me,” Huggins said, “I am thankful I did all right.”

Huggins has so much pride in his town and home state and it all has to do with the people he has come to know.

“My father always told me a good well of water and a good neighbor is worth half the price you paid for your home,” Huggins said.

The impact Huggins has is evident as his phone is ringing, family and friends are stopping by and grandkids are sneaking kisses whenever they have the chance to stop by.

Family and friends will celebrate Huggins at Saturday’s his retirement party. In lieu of gifts, the family is requesting cards, photos, or any memorabilia or stories that can be shared.