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  • Texas | Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories

    Why Hasn't Dallas Placed a Historical Marker Here?

    by Bill Cherry

    There is a historic site in Dallas that isn’t noted on Google, and I couldn’t find any mention of the man who built from scratch what became an iconic and copied men’s barber shop.

    Before you pass judgment, please hear me out.

    He was Jack Pitts and his fancy men’s hair salon was named Jack’s of Dallas. It was on Preston Road near Northwest Highway.

    The unmarked historic site of the famous Jack
    Photo courtesy Bill Cherry

    Prior to Jack's of Dallas, for years and years, white men’s hairdos were reduced to about five styles: white walls, tapered, DAs, crew, and butch cuts.

    Men like Bill Haley of Bill Haley and the Comets had slight adaptations – Haley had a hair squiggle that hung down on his forehead – but in the main, you went into the barber shop and picked white wall, tapered, DA, crew or butch.

    And you hoped the barber hadn't made too big of a mess before he massaged Wild Root Cream Oil (Charlie) on the top to plaster it down with the hopes of hiding his mistakes from you.

    As far as parts go, the barber never remembered where it went. He picked a place he liked the best.

    Of course every haircut was finished with brushing your neck with Jeris talc so that small pieces of the cut hair would go down the backside of your shirt collar and would cause you to itch for the remainder of the day.

    My hair was both course and thick – I had lots of it.

    And nothing much made the top ever look orderly.

    When I was in the 7th grade, I became sure it wasn’t because I was 5’5” and weighed 120 lbs. that kept me from being a strong competitor against the football players for the pretty girls’ attention.

    It was definitely the unruly hair.

    Bill Cherry in 1956
    So I went to a crew cut, held standing straight up and level across the top with a product heretofore used by black men called Royal Crown Hair Dressing. There were two more: Murray's Pomade and Peach Hair Dressing.

    All of the stuff smelled, so I tried covering it up with extra blasts of Old Spice cologne.

    I noticed no one got too close to me. But what was I to do?

    Then a hair miracle happened in 1964!

    Jack’s of Dallas appeared on the scene, and with it came the razor cut and the finished product styled and held in place with a new product called Dep.

    No one’s hair would dare move after a dose of Dep jell, cooked in place with a hot bonnet hair dryer, and then that hold further guaranteed afterwards by five long spray can spritzes of lacquer.

    Jack Pitts became my hero. I was able to have a regular haircut, and it would stay in place, and I could look like a grown man.
    Bill Cherry with Jack's of Dallas "doo" in 1967

    Never mind it cost $7 plus tip a week when regular barbers were getting $1.50. He transformed me into the man I had dreamed I could be --- if only I could wear a regular hair style.

    Boys and men by the droves fought for appointments with Jack. Norris of Houston brought the same concept there.

    While better hair products have come, and my hair has gotten less course and thinner, nevertheless, without Jack Pitts and his Jack’s of Dallas, I would have been a hairstyle outcast for at least the first forty years of my life.

    So I am lobbying the City of Dallas to install a historical marker on the site of Jack’s of Dallas, 8307 Preston Road.

    It’s the right thing to do.



    March 10 , 2012 column
    Copyright William S. Cherry. All rights reserved
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    Bill Cherry, a Dallas Realtor and free lance writer was a longtime columnist for "The Galveston County Daily News." His book, Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories, has sold thousands, and is still available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com and other bookstores.
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