TYLER - One can say there's something special about going to the barbershop. Especially, after hopping off the chair. After a getting a fade or trim, one can say they're a new person. From Caesars to buzz cuts, Billy Cross has done it all. He's lined up East Texans for more than 50 years.
"It's quite a few," Cross said. "Five or six generations."
In downtown Tyler, Cross is the proud owner of People's Barbershop. It's a Black owned establishment that's been around since 1934. There were once four Black barbershops and in over the years, all except People's closed its doors. Cross said he's glad to be a part the shop's history.
"I enjoy what I'm doing, it's a blessing," Cross said.
Hair styles can change over time, but the one thing that stays consistent is how the shop is a place of communion for his customers. Adolphus Horten has been a loyal customer and recalled being around People's growing up.
"My father used to bring me up here," Horten said.
Customers are also given a clean shave too. Cross uses a razor for close cut. It's something he believes is a lost art. He learned how to shave with a razor and more, by attending the Tyler Barber College. TBC was the first barber college for African Americans in Tyler and the first ever in the nation. The school has been closed since 1974 according to Smith County records. The building stands next to People's and it's occupied by a law firm. The new owners have preserved some of its history.
Nowadays a barber is more than just a barber. To East Texans who visit People's, Cross is a mentor and and a friend. The barber said he'll give People's his all and he'll stop when he isn't able to cut hair anymore.
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