BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Some call him an institution. Some call him a legend. Dorsch Sanders is too humble to go along with any of that. He prefers simply “open for business” — even after 44 years — in the same location. He’s the Barber of Lakeview — another among the great cast of characters right here, where we live.
What is it about barbers, anyway? We have celebrated them in popular culture for decades, centuries even. They can be comic figures or ominous figures, but they’re almost always portrayed as wise figures, counselors even, because they have seen so much, heard so much, from behind that chair.
And so it is with the Barber of Lakeview — Dorsch Sanders, who has been cutting hair, generations of hair, from this same barber shop since LBJ was the president, the Beatles wore mop tops and The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was still on the FBI watch list. Of course, Dorsch Sanders was cutting hair even before that. He received his license at 16, but actually took up his trade at age 12. That’s 66 years, including 44 right there on East California Avenue, directly across from MLK Park.
He is quite aware of the significance of barber shops.
“It’s a social club,” he said. “It’s a place where people come and they just sit around and they talk about sports… talk about politics, talk about everything. The barber shop is the main place — next to the church, it’s the barber shop and beauty shop.”
66 years — now, that’s endurance. So maybe it shouldn’t be any surprise that there’s incredible mileage on his odometer as a runner. During his amateur career, Sanders says, he ran in 109 marathons and eight ultra-marathons, which are 100 mile races. At 78, those days are probably over. But he’s not conceding much else to time. He plans on cutting hair five years more. Yes, he wants to work till he’s 83.
In 44 years he has already trimmed and shaved three generations of customers, possibly even four — he can’t be sure.
The Rev. Ralph Anthony has been a friend since the two were boys. In fact, Anthony cut Sanders’s hair before Sanders cut Anthony’s. It did not go well. It was so bad Sanders put Band Aids just above his ears to hide the damage.
After all these years, Dorsch Sanders has seen it all, cut every style, salvaged every challenging head of hair. But he does have his limits.
“Well, this is hopeless,” he told me as he combed through this reporter’s hair. “There is no hope for this.”
He’s a kidder. Hopefully.