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See Ya! Bill’s Barber Shop to Close

Bill Calkins is closing his long-time barber shop on April 14 to retire to warmer climes. Photo by Damian Costello.
“I hope they don’t think I’m already gone,” Bill Calkins, the longtime central Vermont barber, told me the last time I got my haircut. “But I will be soon.”

Bill was talking about the large “See Ya!” sign in his front window. After 31 years at his shop on lower State Street, he’s closing up and retiring on April 14. 

Like everything in the shop, the sign has a story. Such as the poster of his childhood baseball hero, Hank Aaron. “I missed National Guard duty in 1969 to see him play in Montreal and was charged with going AWOL — and the game ended up being rained out!” Or the photo of his barber shop in Manchester, New Hampshire, and giving his first straight-razor shave.

In 1981, Bill went to answer a knock at his front door. He opened it to find his parents. “See ya!” his father said, then broke the news of their move to Florida. They left that very day.

Florida is where Bill hopes to end up. “I don’t want to see another snowflake ever again,” he’s been saying for years. 

Yet when I think of Bill, I can’t help but think of snow, as in the Norman Rockwell-esque photo on his shelf looking in the shop window through Christmas lights as Bill worked on a customer, the 1997 Times Argus photo of the year.

Bill is ready to go. His customers are not. They will miss the good haircut, civic advice — “How come the people with all the answers are cutting hair?” a sign on the mirror reads — and stories that stretch back farther than the 1950s chair. His is a corner of old Vermont where the Norman Rockwell image rings true. 

Drop by before April 14 and get one last haircut, and let Bill know that his sign is more accurate than he knows. We will be seeing you, Bill. None of us will drive west on Route 2 and pass your old shop without seeing you.