LOCAL NEWS

For Over 60 Years, Utah Barber’s Been Cutting Hair In His Hometown

Aug 16, 2020, 10:35 PM | Updated: Sep 13, 2020, 1:18 pm

MORGAN, Utah — While the population may not be all that big, there’s one man in the city of Morgan who knows pretty much everyone — or he used to, anyway. He’s the local barber and first set up shop back in the Eisenhower administration.

The town’s changed since Paul Dickson first got his license to cut hair back in May of 1958, but his philosophy hasn’t. He has a little tray for the glasses or hearing aids of everyone who sits in his chair, and typically polishes off each haircut by running a motorized vibrator over his customers’ shoulders.

And although he’s seen more than his share of changes in Morgan, Dickson says he’s never really considered moving.

“Why would I want to move somewhere else?” he asked, using a comb to point out the window. “Look at that beautiful valley.”

Certainly, the town’s grown over the years.

Like most barbers, Dickson’s always up for a chat, and has plenty of opinions on how different his city’s been looking.

“One of my customers came in, and he said, ‘I don’t like it, Paul. I don’t like all these people moving in,'” Dickson said, recounting a story. “I said, ‘How many kids have you got?’ He said, ‘Well, I’ve got so many grandkids and so many great-grandkids.’ I walked around the chair and looked him right in the eye and I said, ‘I want you to know, your grandkids and my grandkids have every right to have a home, the same as me and you.'”

If you ask Dickson when he started cutting hair, he takes a moment to glance at his license on the wall. But the truth is, he started long before that.

Back in the Korean War, it was part of his job.

“When I got out of the military, I went to barber school in Salt Lake,” Dickson said.

That’s when he met his wife. She lived in a nearby town, and worked at a bank in Salt Lake City.  Dickson would drive her back and forth in his ’55 Oldsmobile — but the rides weren’t free.

“50 cents to ride back and forth,” he said with a laugh. “I was going to barber school, I didn’t have any money.”

Paul and Romona Dickson recently celebrated their 60th anniversary.

He cut hair for a while at the Hotel Utah, but moved home to Morgan as soon as he could. Now, nearly 90, he’s still putting his diploma to use.

“A lot of people ask me, ‘Why don’t you retire, Paul?'” he said. “And I say, ‘Why, does that bother you?'”

Dickson prides himself on having an old-school barber shop where he puts his customers first — but that’s probably not the most unique thing about him. You see, he doesn’t sweep up his customers’ hair and put it in the trash. Instead, he takes it home and grinds it up, using it as fertilizer for what he calls his “fabulous garden.”

“I got the most beautiful soil you’ve ever seen,” he said.

Dickson only lives about a block away from his shop, and will gladly flip his “open” sign to the other side and hop in his pickup to drive over and show off that soil.

“Look at the size of the leaves on the cabbage,” he said with pride.

Next to the wide spaces of the lawn he still cuts, you’ll see beds of flowers, rows of corn, and even a few raspberries.  His bounty is so great, much of it gets handed out to the customers who, in a way, helped grow it by contributing their hair.

“As quick as it’s in the soil, it completely dissolves,” he said, while using a trowel to turn over a batch of hair in a bucket.

And Dickson’s had a lot of time to cultivate his green thumb. The coronavirus forced him to shut the doors of his shop for six weeks — and in a way, it was a blessing.

Paul’s wife Romona passed away back in April. He says it happened suddenly, at a time when he normally would have been at work.

“If I had been cutting hair, she would have passed away, probably be on the kitchen floor because I caught her, got her down to the hospital in good shape,” he said. “When they did an MRI the next day, the stroke was so severe that there was no chance of her recovering.”

Dickson’s spent the past few months working. He typically wears a mask, and keeps supplies handy to sanitize everything.

He hasn’t even considered retiring.

A copy of the program from his wife’s funeral, filled with pictures, sits in the corner on a little table covered with copies of magazines. He still has a newspaper printout announcing their 60th anniversary stuck to the wall, and isn’t afraid to say her death has “left a void” for him.

Paul Dickson uses a straight razor to shave a customer at his shop in Morgan. Paul Dickson's been cutting hair in Morgan for over 60 years. Yellowed with age, Dickson's license from the State of Utah still hangs in his shop. A family photo of Paul Dickson's wife, Romona. Paul and Romona Dickson share a moment together in their younger days. Paul Dickson still has a newspaper clipping from his 60th anniversary hanging in his shop. A bucket of hair sits near Paul Dickson's garden. Dickson says he's loved gardening since he was a child. Paul Dickson points out the size of the cabbage in his garden, which he partly attributes to using hair as fertilizer. A copy of the program from Romona Dickson's funeral sits on a small table in the corner of his shop.

But when you’ve cut the hair of five generations of the people of Morgan, you’re never really alone. Customers, both ones he’s known for decades and some he’s just recently met, have rushed to his aid.

“You can’t imagine the love and concern that everybody’s had with me,” Dickson said. “‘Paul, what can I do to help you?’ ‘Paul, what can I do? Is there something I can do? Give me a call.’ They’ve brought groceries, they’ve brought bread, they’ve brought rolls, they’ve brought gift certificates.”

While life may be a challenge — “It’s terribly lonesome,” he says — Dickson says living here, surrounded by customers who’ve become friends, has made all the difference.

“I’m really grateful for the people in Morgan and for what they mean to me,” he said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

A sign marking the entrance to Hildale in Utah, from Colorado City in Arizona. (FILE)...
Larry D. Curtis

FBI says polygamist leader took 20 wives, many underage, alleges illicit sexual activities

Probable cause documents lay out illicit sexual activities of a small religious group — that included underage girls — under the orders of Samuel Rappylee Bateman, living on the Utah and Arizona border. The documents also detail how girls were helped to run away by Bateman’s adult plural wives after they were removed from family […]
13 hours ago
FILE: A FedEx truck makes deliveries on December 06, 2021 in New York City. As Americans continue t...
Tamara Vaifanua

Tips to avoid holiday delivery delays and hassles

From porch pirates to crushed boxes, shipping experts with Consumer Affairs have five tips to make sure deliveries go smoothly.
13 hours ago
Vivid arena was going to host a Cher concert last October until COVID-19 forced the concert to be p...
Michael Houck

NRG Energy set to purchase Vivint Smart Home

The North American power and energy company announced its purchase of the Provo-based smart home company on Tuesday. 
13 hours ago
Some residents of an Orem student apartment complex ran for their lives after shots were fired on t...
Pat Reavy

Alleged gunman in Orem apartment shooting is charged with attempted murder

A man who witnesses say was kicked out of a party happening at an Orem apartment complex has been charged with shooting at two people who tried to confront him, according to police.
13 hours ago
FILE (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for UNITAS)...
Pat Reavy, KSL.com

Man accused of grabbing teen girl in church restroom

A Wellington man has been arrested after allegedly abusing a young girl inside a restroom at a church meeting house on Sunday.
13 hours ago
...
Debbie Worthen

Family, friends remember Utah Tech freshman as ‘the life of the party’

Family and friends of a Utah Tech University student who fell from a fifth story balcony over the weekend remember the 18-year-old as “the life of the party.”
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
For Over 60 Years, Utah Barber’s Been Cutting Hair In His Hometown