Day Dreaming on my Cotton Sack

John Campbell - Inventor of Shaver's Choice to Beat The Razor Bump Blues

“I got a lot of whippings growing up”, laughs John Campbell, born the son of a sharecropper in Inverness, Mississippi, deep in the “Mississippi Delta”.  Like many children in the 40’s and 50’s in rural, black, Mississippi, John began picking cotton at the age of 4.  He speaks fondly of those days in the cotton fields where he would pick just enough cotton to fill his cotton sack, bigger than he was tall, to lay on and daydream about the future.

"We had a quota to pick depending on our age. When I was 7, I was required to pick 70 pounds of cotton every day. However, once I had collected about 40 pounds, I discovered that this was enough cotton to make me a comfortable bed”, said Campbell. “So, I would lie in my bed of cotton and daydream about moving away from the cotton fields and being successful.  I sure would get into a lot of trouble at the end of the day, but that never stopped me from pursuing my dreams”. It was hard not to dream of success, especially having for a role model and older brother a man the rest of the world knows as “Little” Milton Campbell, the legendary bluesman.

It was in those early years that John knew he was going to be a barber.  When John and his nine siblings would go to the barbershop, he noted that the barber was different from his father and the sharecroppers of Inverness. The barber, Mr. Pete Adams, wore a white starched shirt, a bowtie, creased pants and shoes that were always shined – “Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes on a weekday!”  Something else about those pants the barber wore John asked his father about:  “Why do his thighs bulge?”  John’s father explained that it was money in the barber’s pocket. From that day on, John set his sites on being a barber to escape the cotton-picking days.   

John began cutting hair at the age of four, and upon reaching his seventh birthday, asked his father for a pair of clippers. With six of the ten Campbell children still at home, he was able to save his family a good deal of money by cutting hair. When his siblings’ hair didn’t grow fast enough to suit him, he would cut the dog’s hair or the cat’s hair. John remembers a family friend scolding, “James, you ought to be ashamed; letting little John cut the dog’s hair”.  

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