Just in time for Mayberry Days, city government officials have honored a man whose barbershop is a big part of Andy Griffith folklore.
Russell Hiatt, 88, owner of Floyd’s City Barber Shop in downtown Mount Airy, received a certificate of recognition from Mayor Deborah Cochran and the board of commissioners during a recent meeting.
While this was a part on an ongoing program to honor the contributions of longtime local businesses, officials say Hiatt has come to occupy a unique place in Mayberry tourism. His shop on North Main Street is among the must-see locations by visitors hoping to soak up atmosphere from Griffith’s long-running television show, along with others including Snappy Lunch and the late star’s former home.
“He was the last one in the barber shop to cut Andy Griffith’s hair,” Mayor Cochran said of the business Hiatt has been associated with since 1947.
While legions of fans have made a point of visiting the shop run by a man known locally as “Floyd,” the barber character on the show, Hiatt has highlighted them as well, and in a unique way.
He started promoting Mayberry in 1989, which included taking pictures of tourists finding their way into the shop. The resulting “wall of fame” now contains between 35,000 and 40,000 photos that have been made there, according to information presented at the meeting.
“Russell Hiatt has been a longtime asset to Mount Airy,” the mayor said, adding that he also has cut her hair.
Hiatt attended barber school in 1946-47 and started working in the shop in 1947. This is his 65th year on the job, with Cochran pointing out that Hiatt is still going strong despite recent surgery. He has one son, one daughter, four grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
The veteran barber received a standing ovation while heading to a podium to receive his certificate of recognition.
“I would like to work 65 more years,” he told the audience, “but you know how that goes.”
Snow’s Garage Cited
Also honored for its longevity by the city was Snow’s Garage, which has been in business for 97 years.
“They even worked on wagon wheels — that’s how long they have been here,” the mayor said of the family owned operation dating to 1915.
No one from Snow’s Garage was able to attend the meeting as scheduled, which Cochran said likely was due to a work-related commitment given the nature of its business.
Snow’s Garage provides 24-hour towing services in addition to serving other automotive needs.
The mayor said it is rare to see a family business survive for so long.
“What a fantastic accomplishment,” she commented.
Also during the meeting, the city commissioners:
• Gave approval for the formation of a recycling advisory committee. The purpose of the new group will be to enhance a curbside recycling program launched during the winter. Though it has been successful, officials see a need for the advisory committee to help make it even better.
Functions of the group will include increasing public awareness of the program, identifying possible grant opportunities for recycling efforts and making recycling policy recommendations to the commissioners.
The board approved its bylaws, with members to be named later.
• Voted to hold a public hearing on Oct. 18 during a 7 p.m. commissioners meeting regarding a membership change in an existing city advisory board, the Mount Airy Appearance Commission. The group has recommended that its members be trimmed from 12 to 11, which requires the hearing.
The request coincides with Jeannette Chappell desiring not to be reappointed to the appearance group, and the other members electing not to replace her.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.