Ken Hyatt at his Port Henry barber shop.
April 30 marks the 94th birthday celebration of Port Henry’s long time barber, Ken Hyatt.
In 1950, Hyatt cut his ribbon and opened the doors to his 4301 Main Street shop. Sixty-six years later he is still opening the same doors.
A graduate of Moriah High School in 1939, Hyatt joined the United States Army, serving in both Germany and England during World War II, tracking the movements of enemy aircraft with a searchlight unit.
After three years in the Army and some time subsequently working in the lumber industry as well as construction, Hyatt attended barber school at the Tri-boro Barber School in the Bowery district of New York City.
“I wanted to work for myself,” Hyatt said. “In those days you just didn’t have money given to you.”
After obtaining his license to Barber in 1948, he became a two year apprentice in a barber shop in Ticonderoga. Hyatt also cut hair at many local boys summer camps, including the Glen Burnie Summer camp in Newcomb.
“I cut some famous people’s hair during those summer camps,” recalled Hyatt. “I cut (President Harry) Truman’s grandchildrens’ hair and even Rosalind Russell’s boys.”
Hyatt purchased his home in Port Henry with his wife, Eleanor, and worked out of a small space in the house before building an addition to accommodate his shop. From the antiqued National Cash Register to the barber pole purchased from his childhood barber, the shop is a nostalgic reminder of the era of malt shops and sock-hops.
“I charged 35-cents for a cut when I first opened, it is $8 now.” said Hyatt. “Today you may have more money in your wallet but it don’t go any further.”
Long life line
Hyatt was born to Owen and Elta Hyatt in 1920 and has a family history of longevity.
“My brother Earl passed away a year ago last May 2, days before his 98th birthday and my brother Nelson is 95,” Hyatt said while pointing to a recent picture of the three hanging on the shop wall. “We were genetic lottery winners.”
On the days Hyatt is not in the barber shop, he is spending time with his children and grandchildren, growing green peppers in his window planter, making horseradish for his son and keeping his companion feline, simply named, “Cat,” entertained.