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Barber Neal Murphy Retires After 48 Years

Main Street barber tells Patch why it's quitting time.

Murphy's Barber Shop in Tucker closed its doors over Christmas, and its owner of 48 years, Neal Murphy, is going into retirement. "It was time," Murphy told Patch in a brief interview. "I just turned 70 so it felt right."

Born in Alabama, Murphy started cutting hair there for a couple of years before moving to Tucker in the early 1960s and opening his own place on Main Street. He's been there ever since, living exactly one mile away.

Asked what changes he's seen in town over the years, Murphy replied: "I've seen three different high schools (built in the same spot). There were no four-lane roads, apart from the highway. Chamblee-Tucker Road, Lawrenceville Highway, LaVista, all those had just two lanes."

Murphy recalls that until the late '60s, passenger trains with diner cars used to come through town, instead of just the freight trains you see now. "You used to have to wait for them all the time (to cross the tracks)," he said.

"There was only one Cofer brother back then," Murphy remembered. "The store was on both sides of the track and extended all the way to where Local 7 and Hearth & Patio are now. You could buy groceries there."  

"I had gone to Neal since I was four years old. I am now 52," customer Clint Demetriou told Patch in an email. "Neal knows so much about the people and happenings of Tucker."

Murphy was known for giving military haircuts in the absence of specific instructions. He displayed old newspaper articles on the walls and collected glassware. There was no telephone on the premises because he didn't want to answer questions about how long the wait might be. 

"So, he has decided to hang up his clippers," said Marc Lisenby, owner of Master Building Services which, coincidentally, has also been around for 48 years. "Murphy's is an iconic barber shop on Main Street and he is a cheery but quiet fellow. His collection of Coca Cola bottles is legendary! He will be sincerely missed."

Were you one of Murphy's customers? What can you tell us about him? Please share in the comments below-

Linda Harlan Trotter January 08, 2013 at 02:01 PM
Mr. Murphy what can be said about Mr. Murphy. My dad, Sammy Harlan, enjoyed his visits and hair cuts with "Neal" as he said. He enjoyed all the memoribilia, talking about old times, old friends and aquaintances. Moving to Tucker in 1955 has seen lots of changes, too many to mention. My mother, Mary Harlan, who worked at Tucker Federal (now PNC) gave Mr. Murphy copies of "The Eagle" newspaper which Tucker Federal and Roy Hutchens published as Mr. Murphy was missing some of these and mother had them all and she and daddy made sure he had a copy of missing ones. Thank you Mr. Murphy for many good years. Also, my grandfather and uncle, Alvin B. Nash, Sr. and Jr. both were customers also.. and my cousin had still been bringing her dad to "Mr. Neal" as nobody could cut his hair, shave him good and trim him up. Our best to you Mr. Neal Murphy thank for the time. Linda Harlan Trotter
Arnold J. Gentner, Sr. January 08, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Arnold J. Gentner, Sr. My step-daughter lives in Tucker, and as much as I looked forward to visiting her and her family, I would hold off getting a hair cut in Pennsylvania (where we live) and would go to see Mr. Murphy who always gave a fabulous cut. He will be missed, but, being 81 myself, I can understand him retiring. Many good healthy years of retirement to Mr. Murphy.
Kristie Fields January 08, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Congratulations, Mr. Murphy! The Fields Boys will miss you!
Abe Winterscheidt January 09, 2013 at 12:44 AM
@Arnold J. Gentner Sr. Murphy was the greatest. I go to the High School and had only been going to Murphy's for a few months. My grandpa two above (^^) and tagged at the beginning of my post (Arnold J. Gentner Sr.) got me into going. I would always get the same thing (buzz on the sides, and a trim on top) and he would do it perfectly. I will miss the cuts dearly. --Abe Winterscheidt
bob morris January 10, 2013 at 06:57 PM
Mr Murphy gave me my first haircut in 1966 and all but two or three since. He was also my neighbor across the street until I moved out on my own. What am I to do now? I wish someone had interned with him!:) Thanks, Mr Murphy, for being such a great barber and a great man. I will miss your shop but hope to still see you around. Enjoy your retirement! Bob Morris
Ray Strickland January 10, 2013 at 07:35 PM
I am sorry to hear of Neal's retirement. Neal always gave a great haircut that included interesting conversation and, usually, a joke or two. I will miss him and I am sure he will be missed by hundreds of his loyal customers. I wish Neal a long and happy retirement.
Jeremy Brubaker January 11, 2013 at 02:26 PM
I don't know if Mr. Murphy will get to see these comments, but I hope he is able to know how much he will truly be missed! It's amazing how much of a bond you can develp with your barber & Mr. Murphy was the best. I've only lived in Tucker for about 8 years, but he was one of my favorite things in this town. A great man that I hope enjoys retirement as much as his customers will miss him! I'll never forget how he ALWAYS remembered exactly how I wanted my hair cut..... I never had to say a thing once I got in the chair & was always amazed at this. That always made me feel special that he remembered such specific details. And his jokes never got old! I'll miss you Mr. Murphy!
Mandy gallant January 11, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Neal is my uncle....I never thought I would see the day that he walked out of these doors for the last time! I am so proud of him and I am truly excited for him to retire and start seeing life outside of the barber shop :) he knows lots of people and I am sure will see them out and about in Tucker. It brought tears to my eyes to read such wonderful things about him above...so next time see him out about town...chat awhile...I am sure he will love it!!
Mandy gallant January 11, 2013 at 05:14 PM
First...i would like to inform each and everyone of you...mr. murphy will see your comments as we will make sure of it! Neal is my uncle....I never thought I would see the day that he walked out of these doors for the last time! I am so proud of him and I am truly excited for him to retire and start seeing life outside of the barber shop :) he knows lots of people and I am sure will see them out and about in Tucker. It brought tears to my eyes to read such wonderful things about him above...so next time see him out about town...chat awhile...I am sure he will love it!!
irishslider March 02, 2013 at 10:26 PM
Mr. Murphy always cut my hair the exact way I wanted. Other barbers never did. I will miss him greatly and I wish him well in his retirement. Now, I have to look for another barber.

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