Wineka column: Beautician out with a bang
Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2011
Beautician Gloria Tugman said she has tried to retire twice before, but Friday was it.
This was final, she promised, noting that she’s coming up on “the big 71.”
In a personal, historic moment late Friday morning, Tugman shampooed, pressed and curled the hair of 90-year-old Katherine M. Smith — Tugman’s last official appointment after 40 years in the business.
“It’s like ending with the beginning,” Tugman said.
Back in 1971, Tugman earned her beautician’s license and apprenticed for six weeks under Smith at the popular Tom Randall’s Beauty and Barber Shop off Craige Street.
The women then worked for decades together at Randall’s, even after he died in 1992 and Barry and Phillip Brown took over the business.
For the past five years, Tugman has worked out of her South Clay Street home in an attached beauty shop built by her husband, William. All that time she has been doing the hair of her old friend, Katherine Smith, and it only seemed right that Smith be her last appointment Friday.
Smith, who worked roughly 60 years at Randall’s before she retired, isn’t sure who will be her new beautician.
“I haven’t even decided,” Smith said. “I hate going to anyone else.”
Out of her home beauty shop — “I tell everybody you’re sitting in my back yard” — Tugman styled the hair of her loyal customers from Randall’s until many of them passed on.
“It just kept going on with people who supported me over the years,” said Tugman, who often baked cakes for her customers. “… I just love to take care of them and make them smile.”
She was still doing the hair of customers such as 95-year-old Mrs. McKinney and 100-year-old Mrs. Monroe. Tugman sometimes would pick up her older customers, drive them to her beauty shop, do their hair and take them back home.
At times they would stop at the grocery store along the way, or Tugman might take a customer to the hospital cafeteria for a good chicken salad sandwich.
The side trips were fun and just part of being a friend, Tugman said.
“That was a blessing for me and for them,” she added. She never charged for the extras.
To all her customers, Tugman has recommended a couple of beauticians who could take her place. “I’m not leaving people in thin air,” she said.
Tugman said she will miss everybody, all their conversations and trying to make them smile.
“All my life, I’ve taken care of elderly people,” she said.
Outside of the shop, she was caregiver in their older years for her mother and father, an aunt, her mother-in-law and a brother-in-law.
“It was just part of me,” she said.
Smith and Tugman worked at Randall’s when it was the hub of activity in Salisbury’s West End, not far from Livingstone College.
“They had the pulse of everything going on,” Shirley Johnson recalled. Tugman was Johnson’s mother’s beautician.
“She was a great friend to her customers,” Johnson added of Tugman. “She was like a psychiatrist.”
Tugman grew up in East Spencer, attended Dunbar High School and moved to Salisbury when she married William almost 50 years ago.
She learned her trade at a beauty college in Winston-Salem. When she started in the business, her women customers could receive a comb, press, shampoo and wash for 50 cents. These days, “the works” cost $35 to $40, and a permanent or curl might jump the price to $65.
“When I started out, I never would have imagined,” she would work this long, Tugman said.
She and William have two grown children and three grandchildren. The couple are active in First Calvary Baptist Church.
In retirement, Gloria Tugman said she will have plenty to do with sewing, interior decorating, going to flea markets and club meetings and even deep sea fishing.
“I’m a champion at that now,” she boasted. “I beat the men folk.”
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or firstname.lastname@example.org.