At 80, Watson Horne is still a cut above the rest

By WILLIAM WRIGHT william.wright@clevelandbanner.com
Posted 4/19/17

At 80, Watson Horne is one of the oldest active barbers in Bradley County, serving customers who have been with him five decades.

The owner of Horne’s Creative Designs on Keith Street turned 80 over the …

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At 80, Watson Horne is still a cut above the rest

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At 80, Watson Horne is one of the oldest active barbers in Bradley County, serving customers who have been with him five decades.

The owner of Horne’s Creative Designs on Keith Street turned 80 over the weekend, and has no plans of retiring. When asked what he enjoys most about barbering, Horne said it’s making friends.

“I’ve gained a lot of friends over the years and I’m just thankful for the living it’s provided for me and my family,” he said. “One of the things my dad taught me is, when a man is paying you by the hour, you be sure you give that man an hour’s worth of work for that hour’s worth of pay — regardless of what he’s paying you. I give my customers the quality of haircut I would want if I were the customer and he were the barber.”

Horne’s father, Jeff Herman Horne, was also a barber, as is his brother, Vaden. Horne’s youngest daughter, Carmen Horne Darnell is a beautician who works in the shop with her father.

“I always knew what I wanted to do. My goal was to grow up and work with my Dad,” she said. “January 19th of this year made 17 years that I’ve worked with him and he just don’t quit. That’s what I learned from him. You just keep on pushing through — no matter what — just keep going. That’s what he’s done. That’s the work ethic he instilled in me. Daddy’s always taught me quality over quantity. I’ve always observed and I’ve learned so much from him.”

Horne said, “I came to Lee College in 1956, got married in 1958 then went to my hometown of LaGrange, Ga., in 1961, and barbered with my dad for four years. Then I came back to Cleveland in 1965, which is when I started cutting hair in Walker Hall (now Medlin Hall, across from the university’s Science and Math Complex on Ocoee Street). I had the shop on campus at Lee from 1965 to 1968. Then in 1968 I moved downtown with Charles Martin and Thurmon Melton as Acme Barber Shop.”

His friend, Earl Rowan, who has been a customer for over half a century, recalled, “As a student from Lee I came right out of high school and from 1962 until 1966 — here was Watson, who I knew, and he was right down below. He set up initially in a basement dormitory room, which was very convenient for all of us college boys. All we had to do was go downstairs and get our hair cut! I have followed Watson everywhere he has gone. He’s been my barber now for over 50 years. He’s just a little bit slower but still excellent. He also cut the hair of people like Dr. Ray H. Hughes, Dr. T.L. Lowery and many other well-known people in the community.”

As far as tipping is concerned, Horne said his customers are “excellent tippers,” which he said he appreciates but it was never why he went into cutting hair. It was always about the people, and doing his best.

“I’ve always felt like if it was worth doing, it’s worth doing right,” he said.

Horne is also known for what his friends call “a beautiful tenor voice” and even though he doesn’t sing in a barbershop quartet, his voice was one that carried emotion and grace before it started to fade with age.

“I’ve always enjoyed singing,” he said.

Horne, who majored in theology at Lee, lost his wife, Annis, five years ago after nearly 54 years of marriage that started on Aug. 15, 1958. He has four daughters — two who live in Cleveland, one in Dalton, Ga., and one in Dallas, Texas.

While nearly everyone requires the services of a barber and hairstylist, few barbers can boast of a record as impressive as Horne’s — a man who enjoys the benefit of working closely with his daughter as they serve their friends — a man whose friends are closer to family than mere clients.

Even two of his granddaughters, Kaity Darnell and Maci Headrick, have shown some interest in the family profession, according to Horne’s daughter, Carmen. For all their customers — young and old — Horne has proven to be a Cleveland treasure, and a cut above the rest.

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