If someone asked how long Whitey Flockerzie has been a Bellville barber, most people couldn’t answer because he started before they were born.
Whitey started barbering with Paul Brown in 1965. Because he was drafted and sent to Vietnam soon after he began, he counts his years of barbering in Bellville from 1967. That’s 53 years, folks. That’s lots of stories about lots of Bellville people and a few out of town celebrities, too.
Whitey’s family moved to Bellville from Mansfield in 1951, and he became a Blue Jay. His father had died when he and his twin brother were three years old. His mother thought it would be easier to raise children on a farm. He grew up doing farm chores in Darlington. They took care of hogs, milked cows twice a day by hand, and tended chickens. Occasionally he had to kill roosters for Sunday dinners.
When he was in middle school the family moved to Butler, and he became a Bulldog. By the time he was a senior in high school, Bellville and Butler had consolidated. He became a Colt and reunited with his Bellville friends. In 1965 Whitey graduated from Clear Fork and went to barber school in Columbus.
Going from the small towns of Bellville and Butler to the YMCA in Columbus at the age of 19 was quite a culture shock. To add to the shock, 1965 was the coldest winter on record and his room number at the Y was 666. Upon graduation from barber school, Whitey returned to Bellville to work with Paul Brown. Within the next 90 days he was married, drafted and prepared for deployment to Vietnam.
Soldiers sent to Vietnam were transported by ship on the Pacific Ocean. Three weeks on the ocean gave Whitey a new respect for the Navy. Whitey was injured in Vietnam. While he lay in the hospital his twin brother came to visit him. He too was in Vietnam. Whitey said he expected to be sent home when he recovered from his injuries, but no, he was sent to Korea to finish his tour of duty.
His best memory of Korea was that he got to see Roy Kehl while they were there. In 1967, when he was discharged, there were five barbers in Bellville. His first Bellville customer was Mick Studeman. Among the known personalities who sat in his barber chair are Sherrod Brown and Dennis Kucinich.
However, Whitey reminisced about some of the local personalities such as Mike Myers, Howard Smith, Carolyn Studeman, Darrel Banks, Dick Hursh, Dr. Curtiss, Dr. Shambaugh, Gene Hall, George Stoodt, the Snyder family funeral homes, and the Smith Hardware.
Where would we be without the character and integrity of the local people who made the village what it is? Whitey has been the longest continuing businessman on Main Street, and he has never seen the town look better.
Whitey was accompanied by his associate, Gabriel Chamberlain.
The next meeting of the Bellville Jefferson Township Historical Society is Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. Chairs will be set apart appropriately. Our speaker will be Robin McCullough-Bade from Baton Rouge. Robin has ancestors from Bellville and will portray her grandmother, Ellen Robinson, in the cemetery walk. Her topic will be related to studying your family genealogy.
The Bellville cemetery walk will be Sept. 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Please arrive by noon if you hope to hear all seven presentations. Following the cemetery walk, Robert Stands will present a plaque honoring Robert Bell, who platted Bellville. Robert Stands is a descendant of Robert Bell.