LISBON FALLS — Nearly 50 years ago, Faye Brown’s sister-in-law called to gripe: She was losing too many barbers to the Navy.

Young women in her barbershop kept marrying sailors and taking off.

Brown was a young mom, already married. If she could study for her barbering license, she had a job waiting for her.

So began a career that Brown jokes won’t end until, well, the end.

“I’d just as soon barber and drop dead at the chair, but I wouldn’t want to do that to one of my customers,” she said. “They’d have to leave with half a haircut.”

Brown, 70, grew up in Lisbon Falls. Both of her parents died young. The community stepped up to offer the family support. 

“I always say I own this town — I own it in my heart,” she said. “The town has always been very, very good to us.”

After having her daughter, Lynne, and her son, Carl, Brown worked at Robert’s Pharmacy, running the soda fountain. After four years, it was a tough decision to leave, but Brown said her sister-in-law made barbering sound exciting.

Her sister-in-law’s barbershop was in downtown Freeport in a building that also housed L.L.Bean. Bean employees made up a regular customer base, each recognizable by the standard white shirt and black tie they wore in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“I remember Leon (Gorman, L.L. Bean’s grandson) came in one day,” Brown said. She was new and she didn’t recognize him.

“This nice-looking young man came in, he had on the white shirt and the black tie. When he was done, I said, ‘Oh, you must work up at Bean’s.’ He said, ‘Well, I do.’ I said, ‘What department do you work in?’ He very shyly looked down and said, ‘Well, I guess I’m the president.’ He didn’t want to embarrass me by telling me that,” she said.

She eventually picked up a shift at Bean’s, too, juggling barbering and retail and telling her kids: Mom was really busy, they had to be really good. By the time the kids hit kindergarten, she and their father had divorced. She became a single mom.

“They’ve been wonderful all my life,” Brown said. “You can’t work hard without two good kids. They sacrificed a lot, I think. A lot of times I was working two jobs.”

When family friend Marcel Doyon approached her with the perfect space to open her own place on Main Street in Lisbon Falls, she took that next leap, opening Faye’s Barber Shop in 1971.

The faces in her chair were immediately familiar: kids from her soda fountain days.

“They ended up being my long-haired first customers,” Brown said. “I still cut their hair today, most of them. None of us are young anymore. They wouldn’t go to barbers; barbers didn’t like the long hair. The traditional barbers wanted to cut it (off).”

She’d give a trim and send them on their way, if that’s what they were after.

Brown coached Little League for years, “me who never played sports because I had a club foot,” she said. “One of my customers talked me into it.”

When she started the Chief Worumbo Androscoggin River Race during the annual Moxie Festival, “my customers were the timers and helpers or they were in the race.”

Over the decades, she amassed 3,000 pictures on her barbershop walls, pictures of first cuts, weddings, graduations, each a “wonderful memory.”

In 2016, Brown had a heart attack and cataracts, and the club foot that had never bothered her formed an ulcer. It became difficult to maintain the shop full time and it closed earlier this year.

This spring, she started to feel better and knew she wasn’t ready to hang up barbering. Last month, Brown started cutting at Hairs Too You in Lisbon Falls three days a week. She’s brought in her old barber chair and some of her old pictures. Customers have happily followed.

“I love every single one of them, I really do,” Brown said. “When I realized I could be on my feet, I called all of them and I said, ‘I’m going there.’ Every single person I called said they wanted to stay with me. It was overwhelming. I’ve never been hugged by so many men in my life.”

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Faye Brown finishes with her longtime customer Dick Manion at Hairs Too You in Lisbon Falls.  

Faye Brown at Hairs Too You in Lisbon Falls got her barbering license nearly 50 years ago. She ran her own shop for 46 years.


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