First, they generally seem to have a deep satisfaction in their chosen profession. Second, it appears they keep working much later into their senior years than those in other professions, save U.S. Supreme Court justices.
Also, and this doesn't take a scientific study to confirm, there are fewer practicing barbers, and shops, than ever.
Fifty-seven years later Pharis was still working in the same shop -- the chair long since paid for.
So, the question still remains, why is it that barbers seem to work later in life than other professions, as a whole.
"It's like being paid to visit with your friends," says barber Ray Backs, 83, who in 2006 bought the shop where Pharis had spent over five decades.
"I wanted to keep barbering until I was 82," Pharis said. But at 79 he was stricken with macular degeneration and had to give up three years short his goal, sell out to Backs, who along with his wife, Peggy, moved to Berryville to be near family. Today, Pharis is 84 and said, "I didn't think I would miss the square so much. But it the people I really miss seeing."
Pharis' first and only boss Mr. Hill -- as he always respectifully refers to him -- kept barbering until he was 90. In a reversal, of sorts, Hill became an employee of Pharis when Ed bought the shop from the elder barber. Hill, the Berryville icon of clippers lived, another 14 years after he retired, passing away at the age of 104.
Bruce Cambell's shop is on the north side of the Berryville square and Ryan Bell in was getting a haircut the other day.
"Bruce gave me my first haircut," Bell said. That was over 30 years ago when Bell's father, Chuck, was Tysons' Berryville plant manager. "I was bald [for a long time] when I was little, so I was three or four before I got my first haircut," Bell said with a smile.
Fifty-seven years in the same location must be a record of some sort. "I've only had one job in my life, if you don't count the two different stints in the Army," Pharis says. He spent a short time in the service at the end of WW2 and a saw tour of duty in Korea.
Barbers often become confidants to their patrons. "My customers told me things that wouldn't tell anyone else," Pharis said. More than once customers told him of illnesses or other problems they were having -- it was almost like he was their minister.
Who cuts the barber's hair? "When I was a child Skip [Luther Skipworth] cut my hair," Pharis said.
Skipworth was yet another venerable Berryville barber who worked well into his 80s.
Usually, the other barbers in their own shops would usually trade cuts. But that proved problematic in a one-person shop.