Willie Clark: 93-year-old barber still running his Belle Glade shop despite city crumbling

BELLE GLADE, Fla. - There's a buzz on Southwest Avenue B Place and it's been echoing for more than 50 years.
"I'm not as good as I was but I'm not bad now," Willie Clark said.
With weathered hands and coke bottle thick glasses, 93-year-old Clark is still cutting hair.
"I got to live with the punch. I can't duck it I'm glad I'm here," Clark said.
His shop is open 7 days a week.

"That's right," he said.

"How many vacations have you taken," we asked. 

"Never," he answered. 

"No, why not," NewsChannel 5 asked.

"I just got in the groove," he said.

The groove of working hard, which is a quality he learned during the depression.

"There wasn't any welfare for us," he said. "You could get welfare, but a white person had to say give it to you."
Clark survived on grandma's simplicity.
"She told me that bread and water was the staple of life," he said. "If we can just get bread and water we can get through and that's true, " he added.
At 22, he moved to Belle Glade from Georgia. Then he was a celery farmer and came looking for a fortune he could only find in their soil.

"I started to work for 2 dollars a day," Clark said.
Fifteen years later he opened a barber shop  and he's never left.

"This use to be the happening spot of Belle Glade?," we asked.

"Oh yeah," he answered. "Like Aretha Franklin would say, ain't no doubt about it."

On the back of his shop was a movie show and surrounding it was thriving businesses, but now all that is gone.
"I never thought it would be like this," he said. "I  would have bet somebody, but I would've lost."
"What do you see now," NewsChannel 5 asked.

"I guess this is a poor answer, but nothing much constructive," Clark answered.
Ballooning unemployment and crime are two things that have hurt business, but they haven't killed it.
"Some people ask me when you going to retire, I never think about it," he said. "I'm going as far as I can, as long as I can."

Print this article Back to Top