Secrets of the Blue Ridge: Vivian, Pete & Lisa: 90 Years (& Counting!) at Crozet’s Modern Barber Shop

Vivian L. McCauley’s three sons followed his example into the barbering trade. Attending to their father at Crozet’s Modern Barber Shop in 1964 are, l-r, Lynwood, Irvine, and Ray (Pete). Photo by Jack Pollock, Courtesy of Crozet’s Modern Barber Shop Collection.

As news goes, October 4, 1933, saw the usual headlines for that day and season: the NY Giants and ever- hopeful Washington Senators were playing in the baseball World Series; the Wets and the Drys were wrangling over a potential repeal of Prohibition; and a tropical storm had taken aim on south Florida.

Closer to home, around Crozet, the fall school session had started up, and the not-yet-under-roof Civilian Conservation Corps camp at White Hall had experienced a drop in enrollees. A respected Crozet businessman, Reserve Officer Capt. Russell Bargamin, was assigned to the new reforestation camp, relieving the commander who had arrived there in June with the original group of youthful workers.

Over at Ernest L. Sandridge’s Filling Station, gasoline was selling for 18¢/gallon, and traffic was steady at Crozet’s first full-service fuel business (think gas, lubricants, tires, repairs.) During a break in the action, Sandridge’s 19-year-old son Leonard [Senior] took leave to check out the village’s newest business, opening that very day. His timing could not have been better—Vivian McCauley’s barber shop door was open and young Leonard was first in line!

Pete McCauley and daughter Lisa McCauley at Crozet’s Modern Barber Shop in 2003, at that time in business for only 70 years—and counting. Photo by Phil James.

Now, this obviously wasn’t Vivian’s first day with scissors and hair clippers in hand. For several years the 22-year-old businessman had been learning the ropes under the watchful eye of Jack Phillips, who had opened his own shop in 1909, inside the Goodall Building on the corner of The Square in downtown Crozet. In a shop space adjacent to the Crozet Pharmacy, Phillips’ time was divided among his multiple crafts of barbering, printing, scissors sharpening, and repairing radios. As a helper, McCauley assisted with whatever job came into the shop. When Mr. Phillips decided later to go into fulltime business as a job printer, it was his able employee to whom he assigned the task of hand-digging a foundation for the new print shop on Blue Ridge Avenue.

Crozet’s newest full-time barber had rented a recently vacated commercial space on Main Street. In an earlier day, it had served as the viewing parlor for the village’s undertaker, William H. Rogers. That was where the Modern Barber Shop began its time-honored tradition of service to Crozet and western Albemarle County.

Vivian Lynwood McCauley (1901–1972) and his wife Virginia Ella Payne (1907–1967), had two daughters, Doris and Shirley, and three sons: Lynwood, Ray and Irvine. Each of the sons eventually took up the trade of barbering, and middle son Ray, aka “Pete,” joined fulltime with his father’s Modern Barber Shop in 1953.

Hard to imagine how many times the Modern Barber Shop’s mid-1940s National cash register (still in daily use!), designed specifically for candy stores and barber shops, has rung up the price of a warm-lather shave and a haircut, as well as decades of ever-changing hair styles. Photo by Phil James.

Ray Page “Pete” McCauley (1930–2008) grew up in Crozet. His work ethic, like that of his father, was evident from the beginning. As a youngster, he earned a dollar a week milking cows for his neighbor, village stalwart Charlie Wayland. Saturdays during his younger teen years were spent clerking for 10¢/hr. at E.L. Grasty’s Store, next door to his father’s barber shop. Later, Pete’s popular smile shone from behind the soda fountain at Crozet Drug Store. Graduating Crozet High School in 1948, he and a classmate enlisted for four-year stints in the U.S. Navy.

Although not intending to follow his father into the barber’s trade (as older brother Lynwood had done), Pete found that he had “learned enough about cutting hair just by watching” to make 50¢/head barbering many of his shipmates. The unanticipated sideline earned him enough spending money that many of his military paychecks were sent home for deposit.

Safely back from the Navy in ’52, he returned to work at the drug store while pursuing a degree in business administration. Meanwhile, in need of dependable help, Vivian asked Pete to take over barber chair #2. Taking leave from business school, he earned a barbering certification and joined his father in the shop. As might be expected, his business administration degree was realized along the way.

In 1956, vivacious June Van Nosdoll and Pete McCauley were wed at Crozet. Their union welcomed daughters Leigh and Lisa, and son Ray Jr. “Petey” into the Modern Barber Shop family.

W.H. Rogers’ Grocery and Hardware Store, Main Street, Crozet, c.1912. Highlighted on the right-hand side of the photo, with affixed signage advertising Turner Wagons and Texaco gasoline, is the store space dedicated to Rogers’ undertaking business. Embalming was carried out in the back with a public viewing parlor in the front. In 1933, Vivian McCauley located his Modern Barber Shop in that highly visible location and never felt the need to move it. Courtesy of Crozet’s Modern Barber Shop Collection.

Following her grandfather, father and uncles in the trade, Lisa McCauley’s ultimate career path (she previously worked in the medical field) began in the spring of 1989, following her graduation from Charlottesville’s International Beauty School. Signaling her move into the family’s business, the Modern Barber Shop’s classic reverse-painted sign on the picture window was revised with the addition of Lisa’s “Hair Styling” credit. It was there that she learned firsthand the finer points of barbering from one of the very best, her Dad.

“Modern in Every Way” touted Vivian McCauley’s November 1933 advertisement in Greenwood High School’s school newspaper. His “new barber shop” would eventually surpass, and outlast, all of the local competitors. Phil James Historical Images.

The inseparable father-daughter duo worked side-by-side for 19 years. Pete was Crozet’s barber and acting historian for over 55 years. With Albemarle historian Steven Meeks, in 1983, he collaborated on a volume titled Crozet, A Pictorial History. Pete had observed the town’s growth from the days of his youth. He also heard and absorbed the early-days stories and twice-told jokes from the area’s elders who spent time inside the “Modern in Every Way” little shop on Main Street.

With a historian’s eye for posterity, he photographed the face of the village from the mid-1940s into the 21st century. Together with his treasured collection of antique town views, he and Lisa transformed the interior walls of the barber shop into a gallery of framed images—creating a de facto Crozet historical society.

Schooled in the stories and humorous quips of previous generations, Lisa has, in every way, enriched the sterling legacy of her grandfather and father at Crozet’s Modern Barber Shop. Those who visit cannot help but come away realizing what an irreplaceable ornament to the town it has become over the past 90 years—and still counting. 

Follow Secrets of the Blue Ridge on Facebook! Phil James invites contact from those who would share recollections and old photographs of life along the Blue Ridge Mountains of Albemarle County. You may respond to him at [email protected]. Secrets of the Blue Ridge © 2003–2023 Phil James 


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