TOP PHOTO: “Over here are my cucumbers and tomatoes,” said Oda Anderson, Friday afternoon on his 90th birthday.
By Jim Freeman
JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – As soon as I walked into his home, Oda Anderson sized up my hair. “I know. I know. It needs cutting I told him.” Even almost thirty years after retiring, the now 90-year old barber still checks out everyone’s haircut. My hair’s no longer white nor cut in the burr style he once kept it in for me as a kid at the West End Barber Shop.
Though my hair is darker and far longer than in the early 1960s, some things have stayed the same. Oda, always pronounced O-dee around me, started his barber shop in the brick building across from Stuckey’s. Stuckey’s left when the interstate opened, and it’s been Gamble Motors since. The long brick building still houses a barber shop, and the Leach family still owns the building.
He opened his own shop in 1961 after working for six years and a day for Shelley Ivey in Downtown La Follette. Albert Johnson worked alongside Anderson for decades. Oda retired in 1994. “I had to go fishing,” he said.
“That’s my muscadine vine. I’ve had this Tropical Lily for about 20 years. Over here are my cucumbers and tomatoes,” said Oda Anderson, Friday afternoon on his 90th birthday. The man who doesn’t look like he’s any where near that age took us for a walk around part of his five-acre homeland at Pinecrest on Friday. He built his one bedroom home himself about 25 years ago.
His land was bought from a family member, that includes a big spring, and is not too far from where he grew up. “He was raised near where the Indian Creek Baptist Church is,” said his daughter Linda.
He attended Pinecrest Grammar School, and that’s where one education ended and another began in the U-S Army. “On January 9, 1952, I volunteered for the Army, and that’s where I spent the next four years,” said Anderson. He was with the 45th Brigade Combat Team out of Norman, Oklahoma, a part of the Oklahoma National Guard. “I was on the front lines for nine months in the Korean War,” said Oda.
Anderson was a member with the Army Chemical Corps and was there to witness the testing of the largest atomic bomb, 24 kiloton. “We were positioned 14 miles away from zero point at Yucca Flat, Nevada, and the Marines were six miles from zero point. We wore goggles, and they had us lay down,” said Anderson.
Anderson was discharged from the Army and can back home. “You had to go north from here to get a job. We called it the four Rs, reading, writing, rithmatic and route 25 north to get work,” added Oda. He took a barber course and has been home ever since.
And about being 90 years old. “It slipped up on me. I was unaware and could not hear the footsteps,” he said. He goes on to say that it looks as if St. Peter is coming for me to go up there, down there or somewhere.
“A person 90-years old has some things they don’t need. You can’t hear, and you’re too old to date,” said Oda with a laugh. However, he wasn’t too old to be surprised and even enjoy the party his family threw for him on Saturday. Happy Birthday, O-dee!
(WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 07/25/2022-6AM)