HARLINGEN— Tomas Flores turned 80 years old on Jan. 9, and he celebrated his 60th anniversary as a barber in Harlingen at the same time.

Flores began getting an interest in this trade at the age of 15 and was already cutting hair from home. His nephews and cousins would line up on Sundays so he could practice cutting their hair.

“I just liked to cut hair. I bought an old pair of clippers, and it had two handles, which is what I started using. Then I bought one of those JCPenney’s clippers,” Flores said.

“I would line them up and start cutting their hair. And then all of a sudden barber school opened up, and my sister-in-law told me about it,” he said.

Flores did not know how to drive when he decided to attend barber college, which was located next to the Strand Theater in downtown Harlingen.

By age 20, he received his barber’s license and said he knew he had made the right choice in careers.

“I was one of the first ones to sign up there, and then I started working. When I was younger, I wanted to be a cook, and I did work for a root beer company. But at that time tuition for barber school was $400 bucks, and I really wanted to go. My mother sold one of the cows we had,” Flores said.

For him, it was always easy to cut hair.

His first job was working at R&R Barber Shop under Ramiro Ramirez, who was a mentor, friend and later a “compadre” to him.

He taught him to cut “famous flattops”, which were very popular and only 75 cents at the time.

After working many years at R&R Barber Shop, he was approached by Dean Harrington about managing a barber shop.

This barber shop was located at the Laurel Park Shopping Center in Harlingen. He managed the shop for several years until he went into partnership with another barber.

Jose “Mito” Ramon and Flores became partners and opened the new shop under the name “The Sportsman Barber Shop”, which was located on South 77 Sunshine Strip and was across the Little Creek Motel.

Finally in 1974, the hair styling business was becoming even more popular, and he decided to go on his own and open up “Shear Pleasure Family Hair Center” located at 122 North 77 Sunshine Strip.

After turning 80 and cutting hair for 60 years, he decided it was time to retire.

“I had bought property and owned a car wash, an entire block on 77, but it was time to sell it and have somebody else take over. I had been thinking about it, and it has been a long time,” he said.

“I liked talking to people, that was my favorite part. I am kind of quiet, but I love to talk. And I would listen to them. I always felt good around them,” Flores said.

He said he could write a book of all the stories he could tell. Flores said he is thankful for all the people who worked alongside him and helped him get to where he is today.


ecavazos@valleystar.com