Galveston barber retiring after 64 years on the job

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Galveston will lose a piece of its history Thursday. Not a Queen Anne cottage, but the man who made a barber shop tucked away off West 39th special for generations of customers.

Tony Mendoza will be turning 82 this summer, and he's retiring after the close of business Thursday.

"I'm getting tired of looking at that dumb clock. You have to work by the clock and wait for the next customer to come in," he said.

A few years ago, he cut back to three days a week.

"One customer told me, 'You've got the best of both worlds. You only work three days a week.' That's right, but that customer's not 82 years old," he laughed.

Mendoza and his two brothers were all barbers on the island, starting in the 50's. He still remembers ducktail haircuts from those days.

"I was told I had the patience to do them. It took a lot of time," he said.

He is the last remaining barber in the family. His two sons pursued different paths.

A longtime customer getting his hair trimmed Wednesday said he had been a regular at The Razor's Edge since 1975.

"I got out of the army and didn't cut my hair for a year," said John Bember. "Tony said, 'Are you here for a haircut or an estimate?'"

Politics are not a subject for discussion at the barbershop. Because many of his customers are fellow parishioners at his church, religion comes up from time to time. Not doctrine, but church life.

"We also talk about my family, their families." Mendoza said.

Another part of the tradition are the refreshments at the barbershop. A side room is where sodas and wine are kept. There's also an impressive liquor collection, provided by customers. Mendoza doesn't drink on the job, he said, but the clients are another matter.

"It kind of relaxes them and I think because of that, they give me a bigger tip," he laughed.

Wednesday, longtime customers brought in more bottles to send their friend and barber off.

Among the advantages of retirement, Mendoza said, "I can have a bloody Mary any day I want."

His wife of more than 50 years quietly cried in the waiting area, as more clients came in to say goodbye.

One person joked, "She's crying because she realizes she'll have to look at him all the time."

The couple will spend most of their time in what had been their second home in south Texas.

"The only cutting tools I'll have there are a lawnmower and a weedeater," Mendoza said.

Report a typo to the ABC13 staff

Copyright © 2019 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.