Saturday, February 4, 2023

Whack, the Barber

My great, great-grandfather, John Alex Craig, born in Albany, Kentucky in 1853, was one of the town's barbers. Appropriately, he was given the nickname, "Whack." If I had been the one to give him that nickname I would have included an exclamation point at the end of it...WHACK! to give it more character, not that he needed it probably.

The barbershop Whack operated from was located inside or near Huff Hotel, which was where Campbell New Funeral Home is today. One of his best customers who came in every day for a shave was a man they called Uncle Jim Vincent, and since he was such a good customer, Whack only charged him 5¢. That went on for years until one day, instead of a nickel, Whack kept a dime out of the coin Uncle Jim had handed him.

"Say," said Uncle Jim, "I thought you agreed to only charge me a nickel for a shave!"

"I did," replied Whack, "but when I told you that I didn't expect you to live forever!"

John Alex Craig died in 1927 and is buried at Peolia Cemetery alongside his wife, Analize Leslie Craig, who was the daughter of Ellison Leslie, a carpenter who put the roof on the new Clinton County Courthouse when it was rebuilt after the original one was burned during the civil war. He was also the brother of Kentucky Governor Preston H. Leslie. John Alex and Analyze had four daughters: Nora Talbott, Lela Smith, Della Means and Jennie Davidson.

In the photo made at Clear Fork Baptist Church, John Alex "Whack" Craig is on the far left. Beside him is Jim Pitman, Mariam Owens, Emmy Looper, Tressa Pitman, Jack Looper and Brooks Ferguson. Behind them is Robert Wood, Grant Dowell and Joe Denton. (A Lighthouse in the Wilderness, Morris Gaskins, 1971)

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