Barber Alois Pelzel hung up his clippers and retired March 6 after 47 years in the same barbershop on the Pilot Point Square.
From noon to 5 p.m., Pilot Point residents gathered at the Pelzel’s Barbershop & Salon and Southern Junkies Boutique & Gifts shop for a come-and-go style retirement party where they reminisced about first visits and in some cases first haircuts in Pilot Point.
He started his career in Denton in 1963 and moved to his hometown in 1973, Alois said.
“Well it’s grown a whole lot, but they haven’t done much building,” he said. “The Square hasn’t changed, only one that changed is the north side.”
The highlight for him was just starting in Pilot Point, he said. He has enjoyed it all from day one. He got into cutting hair because he wanted a change.
It’s been good working with his granddaughter, Gretchen Pelzel-Counts, and watching her take command, he said.
“She just came along; she went to [JCPenney] to try and get a job, which she did, but her girls she helped didn’t give her any customers,” he said.
She knew the cosmetology side, and he taught her how to cut men’s hair, Alois’ son Greg Pelzel said, because he specialized in flattops.
“I started with some old men in Denton,” Alois said. “And they helped me do that.”
In the 1960s, there was a football player for Oklahoma University who made a type of flattop stylish, he said.
“I told Gretchen, ‘You come along with me,’” he said. “And, she said, ‘Well, Grandpa, I can’t cut them old men’s hair.’ I said, ‘Can’t ain’t in the dictionary.’”
It’s been good to see the business will live on, he said.
“She said, ‘Grandpa, we want to redo this building’; I said, ‘OK, you can redo it,” he said. “And, I said, ‘I’m going to give this barbershop to you and your daddy and don’t come back and ask for nothing else,’ and they got it fixed up.”
He went to demonstrate how to do clipper cuts and flattops when Gretchen was studying cosmetology at Grayson College in Sherman, Greg said.
“He worked for Barber Greene here and bought out his practice here in Pilot Point,” Greg said.
Pelzel-Counts has worked beside him for 11 years, she said.
“It’s going on 11 years that I’ve been in the building,” she said. “I was 19 when I started here. Oh gosh, that’s crazy.”
His wife, Virginia Pelzel, described him as an incredibly dedicated man.
“He had a lot of farmers and ranchers and people drive from Tioga, Celina, Aubrey and all the nearby cities, Sanger,” she said.
Before becoming a barber, he worked on airplanes in Dallas for Cooper Airmotive, she said.
“He was an airplane mechanic,” his son said. “He was more like a factory worker for airplane engines and airplane parts.”
He went to barber college at night in Oak Cliff after work, he said.
He would get home at 10 or 11 p.m. several nights a week, his wife said.
Working with her granddad has been fun, Pelzel-Counts said.
“He’s quite the jokester; he’s always joking, he’s loving, he’s caring; he cares about all of his clients,” she said. “But he’s the guy that has the biggest heart. This business was his life, it’s his world. He’s struggling with the fact of not being in here. His main concern is his customers and making sure everybody’s good.”
He’s selfless, Greg said. Everybody else comes first.
“He loves Pilot Point, loves the town of Pilot Point, loves the athletics and the sports in Pilot Point,” he said. “He takes a lot of pride in the Pilot Point Bearcats.”
He would have “Go Bearcats” and “Go Lady Cats” painted in the windows, Pelzel-Counts said.
“Whenever our sports were doing something good, it didn’t matter if it was girls or if it was boys, it was, ‘Gretchen, you better get those windows painted,’” she said.
He loves his family, town and the Pilot Point community, she said.
“He has taught me some of the coolest tricks, the funniest jokes; he has taught me so much and my work ethic,” she said. “He wants me to always be here and that’s something I’m going to do. I’m going to stay here.”
He’s retiring at 85 years old because he’s just not able to take care of his customers the way he wants to, his son said.
“Let’s just say his health’s not great and leave it at that,” he said.
His granddaughter and her business partner Malany Schindler-Jones will take over the business.
“She’s a girl from here, and he wants all his customers to know that these two girls will take care of them and we can handle it,” Pelzel-Counts said.