Those that passed by the small barbershop on Broad Street may have noticed the doors closed now. Rayford Knight spent nearly 40 years as a barber in the Scottsboro area, except for three months that he spent in New Orleans while visiting family there.
Knight described New Orleans as a “mud hole,” and said he was glad to get back to his Jackson County home.
Knight joined the military in 1955 along with 15 of his high school friends.
“A bunch of us guys got together and said ‘Hey, let’s enlist together. I dare you,’” he said. “I was not sure I could handle that. My friends said I was the toughest one of the bunch, so they convinced me that I was and so we went in under those circumstances.”
Knight served in the 101st Airborne Division.
“We were trained to jump out of planes,” he said. “In the unit I was in, our only job was to rescue people that got pinned down, and a lot of them got killed, but we had to try and get them out … that was all we ever did. We would get an emergency call and they would put us on a helicopter and we would go get them out.
“It was dangerous,” he said. “You could get killed very easily.”
Knight spent time in Germany and Turkey before returning home in 1958. From there his barbering business flourished.
“I had experience before the service cutting my dad and brother’s hair when we were living on the farm,” said Knight. “That is where I learned a lot of stuff doing that. I ended up liking it pretty well … a lot of them were just strangers that walk in, and I have pictures of them on the wall … there were many different styles I did.”
After all this time, Knight felt it was time to close the doors.
“I am 80-years-old,” he said. “It is time … our life span is not much further than that. I just want to have some time on my own.”
Now that retirement has happened, there is a few activities that Knight enjoys doing, mainly one.
“I like to fish, fish and fish,” Knight said laughing. “And run after women… I lost my wife about nine years ago, and I married again, but that did not work out.”
Knight has five children and all are still living relatively close to him.
“They have all done really well,” he said.
According to his daughter, Lynn McCrary, and his granddaughter, Tori Stewart, health has caught up with him as well.
“He has stage four liver cancer,” said Stewart. “He was told he was too old to be on the transplant list. The cut-off age is 72.”
“The doctors gave him maybe two years,” said McCrary. “We believe in miracles. We could not have asked for a better dad. He has always been about family. Anytime my children or I needed anything he and my mom was always there. They have been our support group all the way through our mom passing away in 2008 … they would have been married 47 years then.
“He was in quite a few gospel quarters,” McCrary said. “He sang Gospel music from the time I was a little girl. He has had businesses all over Scottsboro as far as barbering. Everyone knows who he is around here.”
Stewart, who now lives with Knight, said that Knight does very well for himself at his age.
Stewart said she does a lot of the cooking and cleaning, which Knight replied that he could do, “but I just don’t want to.”
“He is very creative,” Stewart said. “When he had the shop, he had clippers that he would hook up to this pipe that ran out to the back of the building that would take all the hair so that he would not have to vacuum it up.”