Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
Sarah Thompson never gave so many haircuts in one day as she did Tuesday.
Thompson, whose barber chair is located inside Joyce’s Whistle Stop in Spencer, asked her brother, Jay Baker, a Salisbury firefighter, whether she could offer his brethren a free haircut.
She thought it might help the firefighters, still shaken by the deaths March 7 of their brothers, Victor Isler and Justin Monroe.
Baker, who also serves as chief of the Spencer Fire Department, thought it was a great idea. He and Johnny Eagle transported Thompson’s barber chair to the Central Fire Station on East Innes Street, and she set up a temporary shop in the station’s laundry room.
Word went out on the Salisbury Fire Department’s pagers that Thompson was open for business, and she soon had Salisbury firefighters (and a couple of out-of-town guys) lining up for a trim.
When the day was done Tuesday, she gave haircuts to close to 20 firefighters.
Thompson went home bushed, but content, and returned Wednesday for another day of haircuts.
“It was my way of telling them, ‘Thank you,’ ” she said. “It was my privilege, my honor. They’re the heroes here.”
In the days after the tragic fire at Salisbury Millwork, the last thing Salisbury firefighters were thinking about was getting a haircut, Thompson said. All their attention had been focused on supporting each other and the families of Isler and Monroe.
But getting a haircut can be a familiar, relaxing exercise for many guys.
It gives them a chance to talk about little things with their barber, maybe even share a laugh. And when the haircut is finished, they look and feel a bit more polished, more together.
Thompson thought haircuts could help.
“I loved it,” she said. “I had the best time with these guys.”
As with all family members of Salisbury firefighters, Thompson worried several hours March 7 about the safety of her brother Jay and cousin Terry Smith, also a firefighter. And she has mourned with others for the families of Isler and Monroe.
“Everybody wants to pitch in in some way,” she said.
Many of the guys receiving haircuts last week insisted on tipping Thompson, despite her protests.
The tips she collected will go into the fund established for the families, she said.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or