February 12, 2007
Reported by: Britney Glaser
As KPLC celebrates Black History Month, we are profiling African-American people in the community who have a unique story to tell. Today, we introduce you to one Lake Charles man that has been cutting hair...and cutting up for 52 years.
Nathan Thibodeaux got his start in his father's barber shop more than five decades ago. Thibodeaux's Barber Shop on Enterprise Boulevard first opened in 1939, and the business has grown through the years as customers come into the shop from more than just a haircut or an old-fashioned shave.
The clippers at Thibodeaux's Barber Shop don't see much down time. "I do a little bit of all of 'em. I've got a few preachers, got a few lawyers, a few doctors...I've got a few liars," Nathan says as he lets out his trademark laugh.
You can bet that there's always laughter and stories spanning decades inside these walls. As Nathan trims what hair is left on an older customer's head he says, "One day he came in and got mad at me. He said, 'Hey man, give me a flat top.' I said, 'I can't give you a flat top...I ain't got nothing to flatten."
Whether it's the fun atmosphere, or the sheer talent of this one-man barber shop, business has been good through the 68 years this shop has been open....that is minus the days of the afro.
Nathan says, "The 'fro ran all the barbers out of business. Not too many of us survived."
Thibodeaux's, though, has made it through decades of changes in the Lake Area, but one thing that hasn't really changed is the "regular" customer base. Thibodeaux's Barber Shop has so many regulars that their families know exactly where to find them during the week.
Colphis Guillory is a regular customer at Thibodeaux's. His daughter (who is a nurse) checks his blood sugar each day. When the diabetic Colphis headed out for an hour, his family knew just where to look. His daughter says, "I had to come find my patient. He escaped from me." Colphis says, "You know I've been coming here for a long time when they know where to look for me."
Although Nathan misses his father who began the business, he says keeping it alive keeps his memories fresh inside the shop. Nathan says, "He did pretty well...so I just wanted to do the same thing and enjoy it."