98-year-old Fla. barber a cut above the rest

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- We caught up with Joe Brown of Pensacola, Fla., as he was about to go into a barber shop. Imagine being 98 and still having the energy -- and the hair -- to visit a barber. But what's even more impressive about Joe is that he is the barber.

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Joe Brown
CBS News
In a minute, I will ask why anyone would go to a 98-year-old barber, but first: why this 98-year-old barber still goes to work.

"I've seen so many of my customers retire and in four of five years, they're gone," Joe says. "They're not here anymore. I said, 'I'm not going that route. I'm going to keep working.'"

Joe started cutting hair during the Great Depression, and he's been doing it pretty much every week since. His last vacation was last century. The guy truly loves his job and can cite only one bad chapter in his career.

"The worst time in barbering was when the..." he pauses. Obviously, he has tried to block out the disaster.

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Joe Brown's last vacation was last century.
CBS News
"What was them long-haired ducks that came over here -- the musicians?" he asks. "The Beatles."

Joe says the Fab Four cost him a fortune. Once they showed up, nobody wanted a haircut for years.

But he waited out the Beatles and outlasted virtually every barber of his time. And what's even more amazing than that tenure is the touch he still has with those scissors.

Customers like Christian Wagley say they're not coming here out of loyalty.

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Joe Brown started cutting hair during the Great Depression.
CBS News
"He always gives the perfect haircut," Christian says. "He could be 28 years old."

Even these college kids who once avoided him in droves are back. Josh Tyndall says a lot of guys in his fraternity come to Joe, for no other reason than they like his work. In fact, Josh didn't know he was 98.

Asked if he wants to get up from the barber chair, Josh says, "No, it's even better."

Sometimes I suppose it's nice to be recognized for living as long as Joe has. But I imagine it's even nicer when no one notices or cares.

To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, email us.

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.

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