LAPORTE | For Tim Daniels, cutting hair was his way out from the physical grind of the steel mills, but now, almost 50 years later, the LaPorte institution has put down his scissors for good.
Daniels, 68, has sold his downtown barber shop, where he gave first haircuts to children who returned as adults with their kids.
"I enjoyed pretty much whoever came in," said Daniels, who got his start working at Mid-Town Barbers in Michigan City on 7th Street.
Daniels said it was during his one year working at then Bethlehem Steel in Burns Harbor that he decided to pursue less strenuous occupation and a friend suggested he become a barber.
So, he went to International Barber College in Indianapolis and came out ready to cut anything from the flat tops most popular in the 50s to the long hair styles more prevalent in the late 60s and 70s.
Daniels learned to adapt as hair styles changed over the years to keep customers coming in.
He even had an encounter with former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2006.
He didn't cut his hair but the governor pulled up with another familiar customer of his Jefferson Avenue barber shop, then LaPorte Mayor Leigh Morris.
Daniels said he joked around with the the governor that the RV he often traveled the state in along with his entourage of two SUVs were taking up all of his curbside parking spots.
"He laughed and it was just for play," said Daniels.
Most enjoyable for Daniels, perhaps, were the encounters with children that required him to play and find other ways of making them relax so they would sit in his chair without being scared.
He also reaped the benefits of making connections with customers whose professional skills he called up whenever he needed plumbing and other work performed at home or repairs to an automobile.
And, of course, what would a barbershop be without discussing politics with customers, something he did regularly with some degree of caution, Daniels said with a chuckle.
He never cut the hair of former Oakland A's owner, the late Charlie Finley, who lived just outside LaPorte, but some of Finley's children were customers as adults.
Other notable patrons included locally famous residents such as former LaPorte High School baseball coach Ken Schreiber, whose teams won seven state titles, and Joe Otis, who led the boys high school basketball team to the state finals in the late 90s
Gary Hyatte, who worked for Daniels for four-years, is the new owner of the shop and plans to continue the tradition there.
"I just want to keep them coming back. That's all," said Hyatte.
Daniels spent his first day of retirement playing golf, something he wonders if he would be able to do as well physically had he remained a steelworker.
"I didn't get beat up and that really helped as far as where I am right now," said Daniels, who wanted to retire while he still enjoyed cutting hair and his skills remained sharp.
He's still getting used to waking up and not going to his barber shop almost every day, though.
But, he is looking forward to doing more of his favorite things like riding his motorcycle and camping with his wife, Sharon.
He also thanked all of his customers.
"I really appreciate them and I had a lot of fun with them. We had a good time. It was a good fit," Daniels said.