I walked into the small Washington, DC barber shop on Pennsylvania Avenue at 21st Street and met Joe Rooms. He was sitting in the last chair to the left reading a newspaper. I asked, “Do you take credit or debit cards?” He smiled and said, “Nope, but you can pay me later - - don’t worry about it… Have a seat.”
As he started cutting I asked, “You from here?” He told me he was as he started to describe the day that JFK was assassinated in Texas and then jumping into the story about his funeral in DC. “I remember going to the visitation. I stood in line for five hours only to be told they were closing for the evening.” “Did you go to the funeral,” I asked? He said, “I stood outside the doors and listened on the loud speakers. Those outside were not nice to him. A black woman stood next to me with tears rolling down her face dropping to her arms. You could see the tears gliding down her arms as she cried. Two white men stood next to her making fun of not only the death of the president, but also her. I remember them telling her that she could stop crying because there were no cameras around anymore.” He told me, “It was a different time back then.”
I then noticed a postcard taped to the mirror directly in front of me that read, “Prince of the Wild Frontier by Joe Rooms.” I said, “What’s that?” He laughed and told me I should not have asked. “It’s a book of short stories I wrote, the stories take place anywhere from the 1800’s to today – I wrote my first wife into it. I placed her in Paris because she loved Paris.” He begin to tell me about several other characters in the book telling me that it is for sale on Amazon.com and that they were also turning it into an audio book. He told me that he has a love for writing.
The haircut was soon over and I asked him if he would mind me taking a picture or two of him? He said, “Sure you can take my photo!” I snapped away and he smiled while telling me not to worry about paying for the hair cut, it was his treat.
You’re a good man Joe Rooms. I look forward to reading “Prince of the Wild Frontier.”