Mr. Mitchell, the barber

Historically Speaking



Happy September, Atascosa County! This week as my wife toiled on a birthday cake late into the night, I stayed up with her. When that happens, I usually get on Ancestry and dabble into archival territory. What I dove into was the 1956-1957 Eagle annual yearbook. I found so many faces and I found myself scanning the backgrounds of the photos for familiar landscape. I like looking for the advertisements to see just how many businesses supported the local students. I am always astounded by the amount of local businesses that were in the area and jumped in to help the local youth.

One of the businesses that caught my eye was the Freeze King. It is a subject we talked about at the dinner table recently. The popular name for it was Three Oaks because of the three oak trees that surrounded the area. This would be at the intersection of Highway 97, Hwy 281 and Bowen Street where there is a barber shop, a loan office and an ice machine dispenser. A recent post on Facebook about that restaurant produced a lot of responses and memories from members of the page. One of the memories was about Frank’s Barber Shop. I also recalled, while searching through the annuals that Mr. Frank Mitchell was an advertiser in almost every yearbook.

Mr. Mitchell had a barber shop across the street from the three oaks area in a small building that is now a drive-up style taco restaurant. I remember visiting the barber shop as a child and getting haircuts from either Mr. Mitchell or Abraham Saenz. Mr. Mitchell passed away in 1986, and Mr. Saenz continued to barber in that same shop until he moved to the shop on Main Street. I always wondered what happened to Mr. Mitchell as a child although nobody told me that he passed away. I recently found his grave at San Ysidro Cemetery and I learned that not only was he a very active member on the City Council, he was also a veteran of World War II. I remember Mr. Mitchell was always serious and was very easy with kids. As a child, he appeared very tall and intimidating, but once in the chair, he was smooth and if you moved, he would simply say, “Don’t move, stay still. I don’t want to cut your ears off like Mr. Saenz does to the kids.” He wouldn’t laugh or smirk, he would just continue. It would freeze me for the rest of the session. Mr. Mitchell would always end a haircut with a handshake, a plastic comb and he would hold out the candy jar for you to choose a candy.

Sometime soon, I will also discuss Mr. Saenz. He was a character and I knew him growing up, and got to speak with him as an adult. That’s a conversation for another day.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s column. Thank you for reading, until next time.

MARTIN GONZALES is the Atascosa County Commission Chairman. If you have history of Atascosa County you’d like to share, you may contact him at 830-480-2741.

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