The Letter of the Week from David DeWitt of Frostburg, “Haircuts were free, but the memories were priceless,” was selected by the Times-News editorial board as the best letter of those that appeared during the week of Aug. 25-31). It was published Aug. 27.

Note: Selection of the letter of the week is based on writing competence and the ability of the writer to get his or her point across. It is not based on whether the editorial board agrees with the writer.

DeWitt and our other Letter of the Week writers receive canvas tote bags embossed with the Letter of the Week logo.


Haircuts: Free, Advice: $7. That was the sign you read when you sat down in the chair at Fred’s Barber Shop on Centre Street in Cumberland.

Fred Willison passed away last week and left a larger than life hole in our community. (See obituary, Aug. 24 Times-News, Page 6A.)

Since the summer of 1970 I have had my hair cut at Fred’s every six weeks or so; the last time being in mid-July of this year.

Each time, Fred asked about my family, health and job. He did that with every patron and cut hair regardless of age, gender, race or politics.

A few years ago, when Dad had limited mobility, Fred would meet us at the door and help him into the chair.

A normal 10-minute haircut would turn into 30 because Fred and Dad liked to talk. Fred was one of the few people who could make Dad laugh out loud.

Shortly after I retired a couple of years ago, Fred asked me what I did each day, how I was coping with the new lifestyle and so forth.

We talked a bit and then I mentioned that I had been coming to him for over 46 years. I asked him when HE was going to retire.

He looked me in the eye and said that he would cut hair until he died. On Aug. 22, Fred retired. Haircuts: free, advice: $7, a generation of great memories: priceless.

Rest in peace, Fred.

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