Mullis, Clifford

Barber had cheap prices, generous heart.

The revolving red and blue stripes are stopped
inside the duct-taped barber’s sign outside 1740 S. East St. The cactus
plants in the front window will need watering soon.

Eight empty chairs await customers who won’t be served. The "All Drinks 50¢" sign on the refrigerator door will go unheeded.

Across
the street, Sandy Hendrickson watched an elderly man read the bright
orange sign on the front door of the barbershop: "To All Who Knew Him!
Cliff Has Passed + Will Be Missed."

Clifford
Mullis — known to generations of Southsiders as "Cliff the barber" —
died Tuesday in his favorite chair in his Southport home, holding his
wife’s hand and smiling. He was 87.

"You’re
talking about a good man here," Hendrickson said. "He had that
barbershop over there for more than 60 years. I took my son over there
for his first haircut. He’s 32 now."

Mr. Mullis charged $7 for a haircut. He was last cutting hair in his shop three weeks ago.

"He
was not one for raising prices," said Mae Mullis, his wife of 61 years.
"He said a haircut doesn’t last that long to be worth more than $7."

Mr.
Mullis charged 10 cents a haircut when he was a 12-year-old in Spencer.
He was an Army barber in World War II, "saving his money so he could
buy his barbershop in 1946," Mrs. Mullis said.

"He
was spry as a chicken and never was one to be sick. He was scared of
hospitals and never took medicine in his life. Not one day did he
complain. He was always busy, always doing something," she said.

The
couple met at a Northside dancing school, won a dance contest at the
old Westlake dance pavilion and danced at their 50th wedding
anniversary.

"I had a closet of formals," Mrs. Mullis said. "I wasn’t bad-looking back then.

"We
went dancing almost every night back then. We lived in the house behind
the barbershop. I’d have his dinner ready and then off we’d go."

Mr. Mullis kept more than hair shears, cacti and cheap soft drinks in his shop.

"He
kept cans of dog food in there for my dog," Hendrickson said. "Someone
around the corner, he kept cat food for them. I have a son in a
wheelchair, and Cliff would get us applesauce and odds and ends I
needed. He’d go to Target or Kmart for me.

"He
got things for a lot of people around here. He went way beyond what
most people would do. Hello, you’re talking about a really, really good
man today."

Mr. Mullis’ funeral was Thursday at G.H. Herrmann Madison Avenue Funeral Home.

Other survivors include sons Phil and Mark Mullis.

 

 The Indiana Star Online

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070803/LOCAL1801/708030466/1195/LOCAL18

By David Mannweiler

August 3, 2007

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