Twentynine Palms Historical Society
29 Palms, California

Jimmy's Barber Shop

6495 Adobe Road

Jimmy's Barber Shop
Jimmy's Barber Shop building.
Built in 1939.

Meet - James William Bryan

A master of the tonsorial art, local resident for 12-1/2 years, sponsor of the first Easter egg rolling contest for children, musician, landscaper, operator of bicycle rentals, salesman of toys, sporting and athletic goods and equipment and resort boat concessionaire are but a few of the accomplishments and vocations of a man known to practically every child, adult and dog as "Jim the barber."

James William Bryan who maintained a beauty parlor in Palm Springs, came here in October, 1935 and made arrangements to return over the weekends to operate the first barber shop in the tower that stood on the site of Frank Prybor's flower shop at the four corners and now is located south of Indian Corners.

Giving up the tower house, Jim was absent for only a short time to return in November, 1936 and re-opened his barber shop in the water tower at the rear of Jay's Place (now Silver Bridle cafe) on Sullivan road. Bringing over his equipment from Palm Springs he gave two women the first permanent waves in Twentynine Palms. Most of his customers were miners. He built his own building on south Adobe road in 1939.

Born in Philadelphia, July 19, 1884, Jim's father died when he was six months old. Starting to school in the City of Brotherly Love, he came to California with his mother at the age of 6 and completed his grammar grade schooling in Ontario, where they settled. Since his arrival he has always resided in San Bernardino county.

Bryan embarked on his tonsorial career at the age of 19, working in the first barber shop in Hollywood. Later he operated a chair at Long Beach, when there were only four shops there and was employed in the shop in Westminster, the finest hostelry in Los Angeles, which at the time had a population of 90,000. He roomed on Figueroa street, then some distance from the city limits and out in the country.

In 1929 he opened his own shop in the Desert Inn, Palm Springs, which he operated until selling out in September, 1936, to settle in Twentynine Palms. Prior to that he had "slipped out" of the barbering profession to try his hand at landscaping in San Bernardino, where he landscaped 22 school properties. His two largest jobs were the San Bernardino high school grounds and the Colton City park. During 1928-29 he had charge of a nursery for a corporation and had under his care 80,000 carob trees, two of which are growing in his back yard today.

When he quit his own landscaping business he sold 10,000 carob trees to the Fontana Co. Bryan discovered one of the richest grade specimen in the country at that time, for a test came back from the University of California at Berkeley showing 54% cane sugar.

Jim was quite a "horn tooter" 15 years ago when he played the slide trombone and the last time he performed was with the Elks band in San Bernardino, playing the double D bass. During the summer Bryan usually closes his shop and heads for the mountains and lakes, having been to 25 different California resorts.

His son. Douglas, resides in Las Vegas. Nev., and daughter, Evelyn Thayer, lives in San Bernardino.

Source: The Desert Trail, March 12, 1948

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