Abbott’s Barber Shop, a Highland Park mainstay since 1941, is closing, and with it a small piece of history will disappear. That’s mostly how history disappears, one small piece at a time.
When Edward Avalos, who had been a partner in the shop at 4242 Oak Lawn since 1987, died suddenly on January 19, the landlord agreed to let the shop out of its lease.
Even if you never went into Abbott’s, it would look familiar. You’ve seen a thousand like it in movies and on TV, and, if you’re old enough, in the occasional Norman Rockwell illustration: a masculine, shotgun-style room with lined-up chairs, lots of mirrors, and trophy heads on the wall. The conversations you hear are pretty much the ones you might have heard in 1941: current events, the weather, sports, and gossip. Only the names discussed have changed.
And you know the names of some of Abbott’s customers: Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones Jr. and assorted Jones grandsons. Bishop Edward J. Burns and many of the priests from the nearby diocese offices.
“Gov. Bill Clements was a customer for decades,” says Audrey Hansen, a barber. “He was a terrible driver, usually managing to take up two parking places. I saw him back up without looking and crash into another car. When the driver came around with his insurance information, Mr. Clements handed the man a printed card and said, ‘Call this number,’ then just drove off. The victim called from the shop, and, within minutes, a crew showed up to take care of him and his car.”
Hansen and the other two remaining barbers will relocate nearby to Lemmon and Douglas, between WineTastic and Gloria’s. Next occupant of the Abbott’s space: a bank. If customers are lucky, their money may be graced with a hint of Bay Rum for a while.
Correction: Avalos died on January 19, not January 7, and the landlord, in a “very gracious” act, agreed to end the lease after his sudden death, according to a family member. He also became a partner in 1987, not 2007.