Over the years, I've enjoyed writing about such "characters" as Bob Benham. They are a breed unto themselves, full of fun and from the old sod.
Photo by Oscar Roloff/Woodinville Weekly.
by Oscar Roloff
The other day, I moseyed down the Power Line Road to enter Bob Benham's barber shop at Woodinville to get sheared.
Ever since barber Ben Rushton passed away, my wife Elaine had cut what's left, due to Ben's scalping method. Now recuperating from a three-bypass open heart surgery, she's temporarily stopped cutting my hair.
Bob vs. Ben
For years, Ben and I had an amiable (no, change that to "firm") binding agreement: If he couldn't slice my hair in two minutes, he wouldn't charge. Ben never lost.
Ben never "clothed" me with an apron, and I'd barely be seated when he'd start slashing away--one eye on the clock, the other on me or someone else. Who knew?
Once I left my hat on. Made no difference.
Bob knew Ben as I had. They were old buddies.
Bob told me that one day a cranky fellow pulled up in front of Ben's shop and yelled out, "I want a haircut and don't want to come into your shop. (Probably had heard about me?) Made no difference. Ben got a long extension cord and cut the man's hair while he was behind the car's wheel.
On the wall of Bob's shop is an article about him written in 1982 by writer Bill Newman, an old friend of mine. It tells about Bob's grandpa Clifford Waterman, who had been owner of his own barge towing company. Bob's mother Ruth grew up on her pa's tug boat and Bob had worked for the firm.
Consequently, Bob spent years there, and his wife Joyce and their three kids are all boat lovers.
In 1949, at age 17, he joined the Army Transport Service and traveled much of the world. His parents were poor and were glad to see their son leave, Bob said. The years around the loud noises of diesel engines took a toll on his hearing, though.
"My grandpa paid for my barbering school," Bob said, "and I enjoy my years here in Woodinville." His wife is a cosmetologist and a barber, and she plies her trade in the same shop. When needed, a curtain slides between the two.
He admitted that his wife is a good woman to have put up with him for 36 years. He talks a lot and his wife is a quiet person, Bob said.
"Tell 'em that two years ago, I quit smoking and can breathe better," he noted.
I'd told Bob when I entered his shop to turn down his TV so I could hear him. Being deaf, too, he couldn't hear me and it kept blarin' away. Therefore, hopefully what you are reading is what he told me, but don't bet on it.