When Nancy Smith took over “Brud’s Barber Shop,” the men got nervous.
“I suppose you’re going to put up curtains,” one man said to Smith.
Arnold “Brud” Moulton barbered at the Pleasant Street shop in Oxford for nearly 50 years before turning the scissors over to Smith.
“I had to be careful,” she said. “The men were a little leery about what I would do to the shop.”
“I went to beauty school and it was not for me,” Smith said. “I gave barber school a go and it was meant to be.”
Brud’s customers stuck with Smith and she has been cutting their hair and listening to their stories ever since.
Ailments and horsepower rank No. 1 and No. 2 on the list of topics to talk about, she said. “They like to talk about their trucks and I can tell you everything there is to know about bladder cancer. Men will tell me anything,” Smith said. “I like to listen.”
Having something to offer in return is equally important, Smith said.
“I cut all the cops’ hair in town, from the chief on down through, so I get to know what’s going on,” she said.
A police scanner is on all the time in the shop. “I keep tabs on what they are doing. I do know a few good secrets,” Smith said with a smile.
One secret Smith could not keep quiet was when a customer drove by the shop with a new girl cuddled up close. The man’s brother came in and Smith asked who his brother was with. The brother investigated and it turned out to be his wife. The customer was not happy that Smith ratted him out.
“I told him, ‘Don’t drive past my barbershop with your brother’s wife.'”
Smith said she learned a lesson and has since tried to keep a bit more quiet.
She said she has customers who travel from Auburn, Newry and Bridgton.
“They are more than my customers. They are my friends,” she said. “I get invited to people’s weddings and I go to way too many funerals. I have lost a lot of dear, dear customers.”
Smith sees each customer about every four to six weeks.
“There are two ways a man can tell if he needs a haircut,” Smith said. “If his wife tells him or if his hair is tickling his ears.”
Nancy’s Barbershop has a handful of female customers.
“But I’m still a men’s barbershop,” she said.