LA Barber Finally Thinks About Retirement - At 94

elvie lewisFor 58 years, Elvie Lewis has faithfully reported to work at his Los Angeles barbershop. The 94 year old has been cutting hair since way before the first man landed on the moon. These days, Lewis doesn't drive, but he still keeps a steady hand as he clips his customers' hair.

"They have fun and talk about the old days and stuff like that," said co-worker Troy Samwel, who has worked alongside Lewis in the shop for six years.

Step inside the South Los Angeles barbershop and you might think you took a trip back in time. There's a well-worn waiting bench, shelves lined with classic hair accoutrement including tonic and scented after-shaves, plus three antique chairs that have more than earned their keep.

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So what's changed in his five decades of cutting hair? Well, for starters, the styles. Post-war 50's and the buzz cut was in, followed by the Afro in the 60's, dreadlocks in the 70's, mullets of the 80's, flat tops fades in the 90's and today's clean trims.

And, while the neighborhood outside the shop has evolved, inside has remained largely the same. Longtime customers might notice a difference in the price of a cut, but still a good deal at $15 a head.

"Everybody I know who retires goes out and gets another job. I already have a job," Lewis recently told the Los Angeles Times.

In an age of shrinking 401k's and job insecurity, Lewis is a man who continues to do what he knows best. His customers say they keep coming back for a good cut - but also the positive attitude Lewis has also kept since he set up shop more than 50 years ago.

"All the time he's happy," said Samwel.

While his age and a shrinking customer base has him thinking retirement, Lewis hasn't exactly slowed down in his later years - he still puts in a 7 AM to 5 PM workday five days a week. That's more than the minimum 40 hours many of us consider full time work.

A clean cut for customers, an inspiration to the rest of us of how a smile and an excellent attitude can transform a shaggy workday into something far better.

"I don't know what's going to happen to him if he stops cutting hair," Samwel explained. "He can't do nothing else!"


Filed under: Success Stories

Ed Orum

Editor

Ed is a journalist who has worked for some of the largest mediaorganizations in the U.S.His career has taken him to places big andsmall across the nation. With experience at various employers, Ed'scareer has run the gamut - he's been hired, been the one doing thehiring, quit and, most recently, laid off for the first time.Thankfully, Ed has never been fired, although many years ago he oncecame close while working part-time at a pizza place - turns out it wasa misunderstanding.

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gary

great story, i have a barber back home in oklahoma city who has been cutting hair since since he was in the army in wwII. i fiqure he is about 83 at the youngest. everytime im home i ask him about retirement and he says he will die cutting hair and that he wont retire. great old man who runs a one man barber shop.

January 19 2010 at 7:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lorie

This is a great story. It reminded me so much of my grandmother, Sadie. She was a beautician for 70 years, and worked until she died at age 88. What an inspiration!

January 17 2010 at 10:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dan

Me Lewis you are an inspiration, bless you and keep cutting that hair

January 17 2010 at 5:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Patricia Price

Mr Lewis is a true die hard American - he know a good thing when he sees it - and I am sure the love.joy, and his many wise stories - is what is keeping his customers coming back - again and again - alot of people have forgot these acts of kindness - God Bless you Mr Lewis, and peace be with you!!! ... Patti ;o}

January 16 2010 at 10:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jean

Praise God for all of you guys that took time to write comments about this angel God created to be an inspiration to us all. To hear stories like this give us all depth in our lives if we allow ourselves to learn that age have nothing to do with not having a good attitude, when we can choose to have a good one in spite of what is going on in our lives. I choose to have a good attitude each and everyday Mr. Lewis

January 16 2010 at 6:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sushimann

I applaude Mr Lewis for dedicated work consistency. He has shown many of the young men that honest and hard work does have its reward. This senior citizen is a true leader of men.

January 16 2010 at 6:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David S.

Gotta respect anyone who not only makes it to 94 but still works every day. God Bless you, Elvie!

January 16 2010 at 6:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lanisha

I can relate to the gentleman. I'm an 98 year old beautician and I drive myself to work five days week. I have many young customers and many of my first customers who are in their 70's and 80's. I love life!

January 16 2010 at 5:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
V~Dell

This is a great story! I’m a 30 year old Stylist/Barber with 12 years experience. My father owns several salons in Detroit where I learned, and worked the family business. Which lead me to open my own shop "V~Dell's Campus Cuts" I closed before Detroit’s economy got as bad as it is now. I started to see location was everything. Loving my profession I moved to the west coast in the "pursuit of happyness" only to arrive in the mist of the bank meltdown. My stock broker clientele now had the same worries that my plant working clients had back in Detroit; both had made nice money and had families, property, and certain lifestyles. What I learned from my many clients is there is no guarantee working for someone else, no matter how much you make. Thru the years I battled with not finishing my career in law. But after witnessing all of this financial uncertainty for people with big titles and dual degrees, I focused on my cutting skills and customer service. I’m now in the position to be Yelped by many who appreciate someone who takes pride in their work. So my hat goes off to the young man who’s featured in this article. I know it wasn’t easy but he did it. Stories like this make me confident that I will someday take all my past experiences to another level. Thanks for thinking outside the box and sticking to it! I’m going to check you out on my first trip down to LA. KUDOS!!!

Robert “V~Dell’ Carr

January 16 2010 at 5:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Georgiann Serpe

God Bless Elvie Lewis...I only enter articles that are uplifting. And although the only picture is just the profile of him, I was certain this face was going to come with a positive message. THIS is the type of story that the world needs more of. All of the kind, positive words that you have written proves that I am not alone in this statement. Keep the joyful stories coming. Good people are out there doing wonderful things every day. It may not have made the front page in the past, but it is time to make some changes in our journalistic reporting of what is 'newsworthy'. Good job hrdsmj!

January 16 2010 at 4:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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