Moving at a steady 'clip': Hullum's Barber Shop pillar of Burnet for 70 years

Savanna Gregg/Burnet Bulletin
Hullum's Barber Shop owner Tom Hullum celebrates 70 years as a barber in Burnet, and continues to put smiles on the faces of everyone who walks through his door. A pillar in the community for decades, Hullum's Barber Shop has served as a meeting place for townsfolk looking for a haircut or just to catch up on the latest gossip around town. Hullum also recently celebrated 70 years of marriage with his wife Berniece, and will turn 90 next month.

 

 

 

 

 

Savanna Gregg

Staff Writer

Burnet Bulletin

As the years pass before the eyes of a community, many things change. People come and go, children grow from tiny cherubs to adults achieving their goals, and the community molds to the changes and progresses along with those who call it home.

One thing that has remained the same for the last 70 years among the Burnet community is the presence of a friendly face, a kind ear, and a talented hand, who set up shop on Burnet's downtown square in 1949.

Thomas Hullum, the owner of Hullum's Barbershop and known as Tom by his loyal clientele, has been trimming the heads and faces of many a man – young and old – who stroll in his doors to keep their locks in tip-top shape and catch up on the news around town.
Hullum will also be celebrating his 90th birthday on Dec. 14, and while most almost-90-year-olds may have long since retired and spend their days relaxing at home, Hullum remains working.

“It has been fun, and I still enjoy it,” Hullum said. “I can't see myself sitting at home all day.”

Hullum attended barber college in 1948, and after graduation he worked the first 18 months of his career at a barbershop next to the Burnet Bulletin office on the square.

“Back then, the barber law stated that you couldn't put up your own business until you worked for someone else for 18 months, so I worked with Mr. Riggs and Ed Young for those 18 months and started my own shop after,” Hullum said.

Hullum set up shop at the current home of the Baylor Scott & White clinic on the corner of Jackson and Main Streets on the downtown square until moving to his current location in 1969. Hullum's Barbershop has sat at 210 South Main Street since then, and Tom and his fellow barbers spend their days building relationships with clients and neighbors as they have for decades.

“In the old times, the men would sit and visit on Saturdays while their wives did the shopping, and catch up on the latest news,” Hullum said.

Over the years, Hullum has heard story after story from each person who walks through his doors, taking advantage of the opportunities he is given to become a friend and confidant for his customers.
“I do enjoy visiting,” Hullum said. “Years back, all the country people would come on Saturdays to visit, and there were some cute old stories that I've heard some of those old timers tell.”

Among many memories, Hullum reminisced on a man who resided between Burnet and Lampasas, and would ride his horse to town every Saturday.

“He would get a haircut once a month, but every Saturday he would be in here visiting with everyone,” Hullum said.

Hullum has witnessed many changes in the community throughout the decades, including the price of the services offered at the barbershop.

“Haircuts were 50 cents when I started, and shaves were 30 cents,” Hullum said. “Now haircuts are $12, and it is just the same old cut.”

Hullum has also seen fellow barbers come and go as time has marched steadily on, and remembered a few who made their own mark on the barbershop and the community.

“Jerry Graves barbered the front chair for me for 54 years, and he passed away a few years back, and I miss him very much,” Hullum said. “And Carroll Heffington barbered here for 30 years and he has passed now, and I miss him very much.”

Hullum now shares the shop with two other barbers: Dixie Harrison, and Bert Martinez, who has been a barber at the shop for almost 21 years.

Glenn Willis, one of Hullum's many clients, likened the camaraderie among the men in the barbershop he has witnessed to that of women who would sit among friends at the beauty shop for the same purpose.

Willis has known Hullum since he was a teenager, as he attended school with Hullum's daughter, LouAnn Alexander, and continues to have his hair cut by the person who knows him best.

“Tom has always been a big supporter of Burnet, the high school, and his family, especially his grandkids,” Willis said.

Adding more depth to the legacy Hullum has cultivated in Burnet, he and his wife, Berniece, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this March, and have spent many happy and healthy years with their family: two children, four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren so far.

“Only 70 years,” Hullum said with a smile. “We went together for two years before we ever married.”

The Hullums celebrated this grand occasion with their family earlier this year.

“I told her when we were having this function that I thought I'd try to stay with her,” Hullum said. “It has been a great life, it sure has.”
Family and work keep Hullum motivated to continue as he has for so long, forging bonds with countless individuals each day he offers his chair to a client, old and new.

“Business has been good; people have been very good to me,” Hullum said. “Probably that's what keeps me coming to work. I love our town.”

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