For 61 years, Jim Lowry has been a hairdresser and beautician and 40 of those years have been in Oakhurst beginning with a beauty supply shop he opened in 1976 across from Sierra Telephone and then as the owner of Hairway 41 for the past 33 years.
The business is located in the Times Square building on Hwy 41.
The one vacation he ever took followed the death of his second wife, Barbara. He purchased a Harley motorcycle and rode to Sturgis, SD, with daughter Kim Dasilva, son-in-law Tom Dasilva, son Jim Lowry, Jr., girlfriend Sandy Verlanch, grandson Christopher Wiens and granddaughter Jamie (Wiens ) Heinbach. “I sold that when I turned 80,” Lowry said.
The only airplane ride he has taken was on his return from Germany where he served in the Army during the Korean War.
Even though he has sold the shop to Kody Hays, he still has a station at Hairway 41, but his appointment book has fewer entries each year as his clients pass away, move to live closer to family or who because of health issues now reside in nursing homes.
At a station next to Lowry’s is Wanda Nelson. She began working in the shop, then owned by Janice Beatty, just six months after Lowry began. “Between the two of us, we have over 100 years of experience,” Nelson said,
His shock of white, perfectly groomed hair and energy belie his 84 years. “I don’t want to retire. I like working with people,” Lowry said. But more of his time these days is spent redoing a 1965 Cadillac convertible.
“Business is about the people [clients], not the people who work here,” Lowry said. This focus on others brought many to put their trust in Lowry. He has been the executor of wills and held powers of attorney for clients with no family to take on those responsibilities.
The shop is one patronized by generations of families. Julie Davidson has had a station at the shop for about eight years. She, her mother, Sheila Miner, and sister, Jennie Miner, all came to the shop for haircuts and now Davidson’s children, Maddy and Josh, come to the shop for theirs.
Four generations of Greenwoods: Bert and Dorothy-now deceased-both frequented the shop as do son, Ron, and his wife, Darlene. Ron and Darlene’s daughter-in-law, Julie has her hair cut there and her three children, Ashlyn, Adam and Alec, all got their first haircuts at the shop and have been coming back ever since.
Construction jobs in the early 1950s first brought Lowry, who is a high school dropout, to the area. On one of those trips, he saw a lake front property for sale. He purchased that home for $28,8000 where his children and now his grandchildren spend summer days.
Building seems to be in Lowry’s blood even though his initial goal was to become a makeup artist having been raised in Burbank, home to many movie studios. The boat he built over a span of three years, “T for Two,” won five sweepstakes awards in custom shows and was the centerfold in “Hot Boat” magazine in 1967.
He has remodeled and decorated Hairway 41 twice himself carrying out a Victorian front porch theme the first time and a second time with a wild animal theme.
Now Hays is in the process of putting his own stamp on the shop with a theme highlighting history and memories of the area. “The shop, the original tenant in this building, is a part of the history of this town,” Hays said. “This shop has a lot of history for all of us. I came here when my mom got her hair done and I would play up on the balcony. I am not the owner but [I am] the caretaker.”