Along The Way: Open Doors

By Anthony Scarlati

Photo by Anthony Scarlati

Photo by Anthony Scarlati

As I wander my way through life I have found that you just never know what is going to be behind that next door. That one door that jumps out at you unexpectedly and draws you in, begging you to step through to the other side. I found just that door one Saturday afternoon just off the square in Centerville.

I am not sure what I saw first, the faded white and blue sign hanging over the door or the torn, roll-up shade that I remember from the days of visiting my grandmother’s house. The rusted handrails on either side of the four steps that led down below street level were as worn as the door knob, and could only make you think of all the hands that have added to the stains on the door as they made their entry over the years. I had to know what was behind this door. I had to know the story. I became obsessed with wanting to know.

Reading the worn piece of paper hanging from a makeshift hook I realized that I was too late. The hand written hours told me I had to come back. Anyone who really knows me knows that when I become obsessed with something I will not let go. JimmyReeceIt would be two weeks before I would make it back and all that time I could only imagine what was down those steps and behind that door. I found Jimmy Reece sitting on a park bench, his bench as locals will claim, just waiting for his next customer to stop by. We shook hands in the middle of the street and from that moment he begin to tell me his story.

As he walked me through the door all my expectations became

Photos by Anthony Scarlati,

Photos by Anthony Scarlati,

visual overload. I found myself stepping back in time to a place that my imagination could have never dreamed up. His first of three customers made their way to his chair all to be greeted with a smile and a quick joke to bring laughter to the small room that has been Jimmy’s shop for 42 years.

As the sound of his clippers does their work he tells me of the days in the past. How he grew up in the City of Detroit and how his father was a policeman. With pride in his voice he tells of how his father only had to pull his gun once. How in 1939 his family moved from Detroit to Centerville to work a 600-acre farm. He told me of his first car with a little regret in his voice, a 1954 Chevy 210. He really wished he had gotten the Impala but the 210 was okay. He claims the day the Beatles came to America was the day barber business changed forever. With a quick chuckle, he says he likes seeing the young men around town wearing their hair short again.

The stories go on and the clippers never stop buzzing. Then as he

Photo by Anthony Scarlati,

Photo by Anthony Scarlati,

finishes his last customer, he begins to tell me about how he loves to play the fiddle. He claims to only know four songs: “Silent Night,” “The Tennessee Waltz,” “Old Joe Clark” and “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.” With not much encouragement at all, he pulls out his fiddle to play “The Tennessee Waltz.” As he tunes he says with a smile, “There’s just one string that is a little loose but I seldom ever really hit it, so it should be okay.” He plays his song with pride and always with a smile. As I shake Jimmy’s hand and thank him for the time

Photo by Anthony Scarlati,

Photo by Anthony Scarlati,

spent, he reminds me “If you look good you will feel good,” and smiles again. I left that day feeling much better about life, I felt much better about myself and very thankful for walking through that door and meeting Mr. Jimmy Reece.

Anthony Scarlati is a fine art portrait photographer and photojournalist known for his soulful and thought-provoking images. A native of Chicago, he has spent more than twenty years working in the music and travel industries. Anthony now calls home Leiper’s fork, TN and more of his work can be seen at and his travel blog

About Becky Jane Newbold

Becky Jane Newbold thrives on new experiences and is always on the lookout for new stories to tell. Whether she is riding her motorcycle, photographing wildlife attracted to her garden, creating original works of art or enjoying home-cooked meals with her family, Becky Jane’s passion is staying current with fresh, innovative ideas. Raised in the newspaper industry, she is committed to truth in media. See more at


Along The Way: Open Doors — 4 Comments

  1. I began getting my hair cut by Jimmy in the early 60’s and still get it cut there today. I’ve been to a “beauty salon” twice when Jimmy was ailing but I always returned. I got my son’s hair cut there until he became a teenager in the early 90’s and could make his own decisions. This was an excellent article! You captured the real Jimmy and the shop.

    • Thanks for adding to the story! So cool to find an authentic slice of small town America intact. Thank you Jimmy Reece and photojournalist Anthony Scarlati!

  2. My husband and his friends all got a hair cut from Jimmy in the ’60’s. As time passed and the world changed, a longer hair style became the “it thing”, my husband would still go to Jimmy’s. One time while we were attending visitation at Mc Donald’s Funeral Home, my husband left to go Jimmy’s. When he returned his hair was very very short. I said “A little short isn’t it?” My husband had a big grin on his face and said ” Always get your money’s worth at Jimmy Reece’s”. Great guy!!

  3. Thanks for the article about Jimmy and the Barber Shop. He is my husband and loves being the barber in our small town. He will be 80 years old on July 31st and has been a barber in Centerville almost 50 years. He has made many friends through the years and appreciates every one that has come thru the old worn out door.
    Ruth Reece