There will be no more shaves, no more haircuts. After 55 years of doing what he loved most, Bob Carey of Bob's Hot Rod Barbershop is hanging up his scissors and taking it on the road with his wife, Allison.
After moving to Tehachapi 35 years ago, Bob the Barber has since become an icon to local families of multiple generations. His barbershop, located in the heart of downtown Tehachapi on Green Street, served as a regular stop for companionship and laughter as menfolk sat waiting to get trims.
"I went to barber school in '63," said Bob. "I cut hair all that time except for when I was on an all-expense paid vacation by Uncle Sam during the Vietnam War."
Bob said he has always wanted to cut hair, and has maintained his dream job his entire life.
"Tehachapi has been good to me," he said. "It's been a wonderful place to live, and a good place to do business."
Bob said he has met some wonderful friends in his chosen profession, but has also lost many over the years, like Kelcy Owens of Kelcy's Restaurant, who died in 2008.
Said Bob, "Living in a retirement community, it's been hard watching customers and friends pass away."
Taking over the helm of the barbershop is the Carey's daughter, Amanda "Moe" Abernathy, who joined her father in September 2015 after following in his footsteps and obtaining a barber's license of her own.
Asked if Moe plans to keep the long-standing name, born from Bob's love for hot rods and the many photographs that adorn the shop's walls, Bob said, "She will probably change the name, eventually, but right now, she is just getting her bearings ... getting her barber's legs under her. She's doing good."
Bob said he left the decision as to when he would retire up to Allison. When she said it was time to go, it was time to go, he said.
"I decided I wanted to spend time with my husband, because there is a bit of an age difference, and I didn't want to wait," said Allison, who also retired after working 15 years at the prison. "We decided we had enough. We are OK, based on how we are choosing to retire, and decided we were just going to live our lives in our RV and hanging out."
Not only did the Careys turn over the keys to the barbershop to Moe, they turned over their house keys as well. They packed up their RV, and are headed to a ranch close to Yosemite, which they will now call "home base."
From there, they say they plan to travel wherever the wind blows them.
"We have never really been anywhere," Allison said. "Now it's our time. We want to see the Grand Canyon, and we want to go do stuff. With the motor home and the car, now we can."
Although the Careys say they won't be taking any lavish cruises, they are perfectly content exploring the best of what America has to offer.
Asked if it was hard downsizing their belongings to fit inside their motor home, both Bob and Allison laughed in unison.
"Nope, we just gave it all to the daughter," Bob said with a smile.
Before heading to the ranch, the Careys will first make a stop in Lone Pine as members of the Good Sam Charter Club to offer their support to participants of the Mount Whitney Bike Race, handing out water and food.
Said Allison, "We want to go where it is hot when it's cold, and cold when it's hot."
As for what he will miss most about his barbershop, Bob doesn't hesitate to answer.
"I will miss my friends," he said. "I made a lot of great friends. People who have come to me since '81. People like Ed Grimes, whom I've given all his kids their first haircuts, and his grandkids. Those are the people you miss."
Bob's Hot Rod Barbershop is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in addition to regular hours of Tuesday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Located at 111 S. Green St., the shop can be reached by calling 823-9641.