JACKSON, MS- One of the highlights of visiting the historic Farish Street neighborhood in its 1970’s heyday may have been a stop into Big Frank’s Barbershop to get a close shave and a nice, even trim. You can still visit Big Frank Williams, and get his shave & trim special. Frank boasts that the prices on his blackboard have never changed.
Unfortunately, neither has the festering glass canister of blue Barbicide where Frank stores his combs and shears.
Big Frank has cut hair every day since the shop opened in 1973, and local clientele like electrician Herb Green stop in for their dose of homespun wisecracks from Big Frank. “Just seems like this place has stopped in time,” said Herb, who was being worked over with the world’s rustiest pair of shears. “Most of tools and the styles haven’t changed in 30-odd years. I’ve been reading those same magazines since he opened the place.”
Big Frank’s regulars come back out of loyalty, but often leave with zig-zaging hairlines and open wounds thanks to his filth-encrusted scissors and combs. Great masses of un-swept hair cascade onto the street in drifts when customers depart, too. Frank has never seen the point of owning a broom. The bathroom has featured an ‘Out of Order’ sign since, well, Frank can’t seem to remember, but he’s sure that George Bush Sr. was president at the time.
Despite the health risks, Big Frank’s neighbors seem to enjoy the refreshing nostalgia of his unchanged 1973 pinup girl calendar and creaking barber chairs that no longer raise or lower. His regulars proudly bring in their young sons for a first cut, but offer a firm ‘no thanks’ when Frank offers their kids a treat from his sun-bleached jar of melted tootsie rolls.
“The one thing I can’t stand,” said Big Frank, as he fitted his next appointment with a stained, matted styling gown, “are those trendy youngsters with fifteen dollar haircuts, asking if I have free wi-fi. No respect for my generation.”