Longtime barber opens new shop

"Rob Hood wields the electric clipper with a steady hand, grazing the top of Tim Jackson's head.The veteran barber gives the young Navy member an old-fashioned flat top, mowing ever so carefully in a smooth line.This is not time to make a divot, he comments. It's not like a golf course. You can't put it back.Hood knows the fine points of cuts and shaves, clips and trims. And the former owner of the Midway Barber Shop in Oak Harbor is now back in the trade. Hood opened Rob's Harbor Barber on Monday. The downtown Oak Harbor shop, at the intersection of Bayshore Drive and Pioneer Way, sat vacant for nearly a year. The empty barber shop finally enticed Hood back into the business.In recent years Hood worked in Alaska as a chief engineer on ocean-going tugs. But with his wife Judy working for Whidbey Island Bank - and with his own growing realization that a sea-going career in Alaskan waters is mostly a young man's world - Hood decided to dust off his barber chairs, sharpen his scissors, and return to Oak Harbor to ply a trade that goes back in his family to the 19th century.Hood's grandfather was a barber for 60 years, mostly in Santa Rosa, Calif. Hood can remember a ritual of childhood haircuts in his grandparents' kitchen. When he grew into his teens, Hood's grandfather taught him the profession.He always told me, 'A man can't go through life with just one trade,' Hood remembers.That has proved to be true for Hood, who has tackled a variety of jobs in his 60-plus years. It wasn't until 1986 that he earned his barber license and went to work at Midway Barber Shop with Clarence Jackson. Hood later bought that shop, then sold it when he followed the call to Alaska.Rob's Harbor Barber is Hood's return to his roots, and he wants to settle in.I love being around people, says the friendly, sociable Hood. I imagine I want to stay here for a number of years.Hood and his wife Judy have completely painted and refurbished the shop, which features a panoramic view of the Oak Harbor waterfront. That includes everything from new mirrors, light fixtures and countertops to coat hooks. The waiting room features new benches, coffee, water and reading material.I've tried to think of everything I could to accommodate people while they're waiting, he says.The traditional barber chair in the main haircutting room comes from Midway Barber Shop. Hood hung on to it when he sold that business.Hood describes his style as old school, and he adheres to a standard of barbering that he learned from his grandfather. In fact, Hood still uses his grandfather's razors - probably 100 years old - to shave around his clients' ears, just like the old barbershops used to do. He even sharpens the blade on a leather strap that hangs from the barber chair.Clients like Jackson seem impressed by the results. Oh yeah. Sharp, Jackson says when Hood asks him what he thinks of the results of his flat-top cut.Rob's Harbor Barber, located at 1091 SE Pioneer Way, is open Monday through Saturday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every other Saturday. The cost of haircut is $9. Call 941-1391. "

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