LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — J.C. Riddle remembers well the day he began his barbering career. It was the Monday after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. He, along with several other men, began making the drive to a barber school in Nashville six days a week for six months.
After a few years of cutting hair in Tullahoma, in 1969 Riddle joined Harvel Tipps in the Lynchburg Barber Shop under what is now the Iron Kettle. Other barbers in that shop over its more than 100-year history were John Woosley, Shirley Majors and Nath Medley.
Majors, father of University of Tennessee football coach Johnny Majors, came back to the shop for his haircuts as long as he lived.
Moore County High School’s first football team played on a field behind the buildings on the south side of the square and the barbershop was used as the team’s shower and dressing room.
Riddle became sole owner in 1973 when Tipps retired after 50 years of barbering. He remained in that location until 2004 when he moved into a former beauty shop behind the home of Mrs. R.B. Huffman on Main Street, across from Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House.
Now after almost 12 years in that location, Riddle, who is 78, has some health issues that need attention and he has reluctantly decided to retire. At noon on Saturday, Sept. 12, Riddle closed what has been a 100-plus year business here in Lynchburg.
It was a bittersweet day for a man who has carried on conversations with generations of Moore Countians.
“What I will miss the most,” he says, “are my customers. “They are my friends and my buddies. I will miss my customers more than they will miss me.”
Riddle tells of an elderly couple and their son who have made it a practice four times a year to schedule a meal at Miss Bobo’s and a haircut at his shop.
Riddle began cutting Rev. David Adams’ hair when he became pastor of Lynchburg First UMC in 2003. Although he moved to Shelbyville more than nine years ago, Adams has continued to come to Lynchburg for haircuts.
“J.C. is more than my barber,” Adams said with emotion, “He’s my friend. He takes time with people. He cares about people. He is an honorable man who did an honorable job. I will miss him as my barber, but he will continue to be my friend.”
Riddle’s wife Shirley is retired from her job as a secretary at Motlow. The couple has lived in the same home near Tim’s Ford for 58 years.
“We were there before the lake,” they explained.
The Riddles have a small cow-calf operation. In addition, Shirley says she has plenty of ideas to keep J.C. busy.
J.C. however — who says he will miss the friendly banter and the sharing of jokes which were often at his own expense — adds that he’s looking forward to visiting with his friends on the bench in front of the Iron Kettle.
—By JUNE PUGH, MCN Correspondent
Follow us on Twitter: @TheMooreCoNews