The walls of Charlie Wright’s shop are packed full of symbols that this veteran barber will tell you make up his identity: Native American artwork, mounted deer heads and fish, team logos from the University of Alabama, pictures of Jesus and of course, the tools of his trade.
Wright has been a barber for more than 50 years, the last 22 of which he’s spent cutting hair in Summerdale, Ala. Although his shop and the town it’s in are both on the smaller side, Wright’s clientele is not. “I draw in people from all over Baldwin County,” Wright says. One of his repeat customers even comes from as far away as Pensacola, Fla.
A tiny town called Tibbie in Washington County, Ala. is Wright’s native home. His family relocated to Baldwin County when he was in second grade. In his time here, Wright says he’s seen the area change quite a bit. “There are more people here now than I thought would ever be possible when I was a kid,” he says.
Wright stayed in Baldwin County until it was time to serve his country in the armed forces. “I spent 20 years in the Navy, 15 years at sea,” Wright says. “I served on six different ships, which is something most people haven’t done.” It was during his time in the Navy that Wright first learned the barber trade.
He retired from the military 29 years ago and, as he puts it, he’s “been behind a barber’s chair ever since.”
“If a barber truly likes his job and enjoys his trade, it’s not uncommon to see him cutting hair at 90 years old,” Wright says.
When he’s not behind a barber’s chair, Wright does a little bit of farming and raises goats and cows on the property he shares in Loxley, Ala. with his wife of 47 years, Judy. He’s also a father and grandfather and a hunting and fishing enthusiast.
At close to 71 years of age, Wright describes himself as “semi-retired.” He’s cut down his working days to just two and a half a week.
After more than 50 years of cutting hair, Wright says he often gets asked if and when he’ll retire. “I tell them, probably when I get to be around 90.”