“HERB’S GONE:” longtime barber retires for good

The last time Sapulpa saw something like this, it was in December of 1964. “HERB’S GONE,” is what the ad read in all uppercase, conveying a sense of alarm. What happened to Sapulpa’s barber?

Just underneath the exclamatory remark was the reassurance that Herb was not gone forever, and he could now be found at his new shop across the street from the Creek County Courthouse on East Dewey Ave.

That shop, where Herb has been since 1964, now sits dark, and if not for the note on the door, looks just like the barber has gone for the evening, to return to his regular duties tomorrow.

But there’s no mistaking the words scrawled onto the yellow-lined paper: “Herb has closed. Will not reopen. Thank you.”

And just like that, a legacy in Sapulpa has come to an end.

Herb Carner has apparently retired for good, at a surprise to most, including his own family. His daughter even sounded surprised when the Sapulpa Herald reached out to inquire as to his sudden closing. She had told us weeks ago he was planning on it, but we were expecting more notice. Was it his health?

“That is actually much quicker than I expected! He’s ok,” she reassured us. But she couldn’t say when or if he’d be back. “He will have to clear out his things, but I don’t know when.”

Carner was featured in the Sapulpa Times newspaper in mid-May of 2021 for his tenure behind the barber’s chair, which began in 1956. If Herb really is gone for good, his career as a “hair-cutter”—what he called himself and other barbers­—came to an end just a few weeks shy of 67 years.

Gilbert Matthews getting a haircut from longtime barber Herb Carner, who retired after 66 years as a local barber this week.

Carner grew up in Mounds, began cutting hair with friends and family, apprenticed under Harry McGrew and moved around a couple times before landing at his final shop between 217 and 219 East Dewey Avenue. In the story celebrating his 65th anniversary as a barber, he said he’s quit the business in exactly the way he did—without much fanfare: “I suppose one day, I’ll just up and quit, but today ain’t gonna be the day!”

It seems that day finally arrived. We will miss you, Herb.