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Flat-tops to Long Hair, Woody’s Seen it All

Local barber Lloyd Woody celebrates half a century of service to the community.

"Woody, it’s your 15 minutes of fame," said Gary Heath jokingly as he sits in the barber’s chair, in the midst of receiving another classic Woody’s haircut. Since 1956, Lloyd Woody, amicably known as "Woody" to his customers, has been somewhat of an institution in Arlington, conscientiously trimming, cutting, and providing the occasional buzz cut from his barbershop in the Williamsburg Shopping Center. This past July, Sharon McClure and Karen Haines of Fall Properties, the real estate firm next door to Woody’s, organized a celebration in honor of his 50th year in business.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS pennants and game schedules cover the walls of Woody’s quaint barbershop lending a homey feel, while the vending machine dispensing old-fashioned Coca-Cola bottles sends one into a flashback of the 1950s.

At the fresh-faced age of 23, Lloyd Woody, who grew up in Charlottesville, headed off to barber school in Richmond, at the suggestion of his father, whose friend was a barber. "I liked it so well," Woody says. "I stayed with it. I enjoy every minute of it." Prior to barber school, Woody had been a member of the U.S. Air Force for four years, having been drafted during the Korean War at 19. "It was either the army or the Air Force, I chose the Air Force," he says.

After his education at barber school was complete, 24-year-old Woody, the father of two sons who now live in South Carolina and Culpeper, set up shop in the Williamsburg Shopping Center on July 5, 1956. "July 5, I remember that day," he recalls with a smile. "The day after the holiday."

Now 74, Woody has an impressive clientele of more than 300 people. "I think it’s great — 50 years. That’s what we need, some stability … I don’t know anyone more committed," says Heath as Woody, dressed in a neat blue smock as he finishes up a haircut with his signature touch. "He’s a good man," Woody says of Heath. "Brings me veggies all the time." With the camaraderie that inevitably develops between Woody and his clients, it’s no wonder that so many choose to frequent his barbershop.

HALF A CENTURY ago, the Williamsburg Shopping Center was comprised of just two businesses — Woody’s barbershop and a bank. The bank is long gone, and the shopping center has expanded to Shopping Center #1 and Shopping Center #2, having filled up with more than 14 stores. Through it all, Woody’s has remained a constant, with his 50-cent haircuts for kids and 75-cents for men (though he has had to up the price to $12 with the changing times). He’s witnessed all the hairstyle trends, from flat-tops to long hair ("Long hair really killed us," he adds wryly) and cut the hair of Chief Justice Warren Burger.

Fifty years ago, Lloyd Woody found his calling. "I just love people. They’ll all tell you, I’m a big talker …" A typical morning for Woody starts at 8:30 a.m. when he comes in to prep for the morning rush from the minute the barbershop opens at 9 a.m. until midday. Things are slow around noon, only to pick up again in the evening until Woody closes up shop by 6:30 p.m.

With no plans to retire, other than going from 9 hours to 6 hours a day in August, Lloyd Woody will be around to welcome new clients, chat it up with old customers who have become close friends, and dole out any advice that’s asked of him, as another customer who is waiting for his haircut chimes in, "Everyone comes to ask his opinion."

In keeping with his contented outlook on life, Woody hopes to keep on keepin’ on in the future "I’m happy as can be … I’d just like to be here to work in another 50 years."