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Barbershop Row: 1936

March 1936. Vicksburg, Mississippi. "Vicksburg Negroes and shop front." 8x10 inch nitrate negative by Walker Evans for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.

March 1936. Vicksburg, Mississippi. "Vicksburg Negroes and shop front." 8x10 inch nitrate negative by Walker Evans for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

More than 15 times as effective

as Vick's Formula 44

Vicksburg Red Beans and Rice

Had lunch (Red Beans and Rice) in ol' downtown Vicksburg today on the way back East from Louisiana and thought of this series of photos on Shorpy as I was shaking the Tabasco into the plate. Could have used a trim too.

Roberts Remedies No. 666

I stumbled upon your website while researching a bottle that I found recently. It is an old bottle with a cork stopper and the label (mostly intact) for Roberts Remedies No. 666 from the Monticello Drug Co. It sold for 50 cents. I found the "General Directions" interesting:

One teaspoonful in water every three hours until it acts well, then three times a day. As cure for Malaria, One Tablespoonful in water every three hours for three days, then three times a day for eight weeks. CHILDREN IN PROPORTION TO AGE.


My aunt has a painting in her living room of a country road with an old barn in the background and on one of the trees is a sign with the 666 on it. I always wondered why it had that number on it and why she'd want that number in her living room. Now I see it was just a weird name for a cough syrup.


Thanks for that info about where this photo was taken. As a grad student, I lived near the corner of Monroe and Jackson for one summer while working at the Waterways Experiment Station. Although living in this "city" was quite the culture shock for a native New Englander like me, it didn't look nearly as run-down as this picture.


My wife and sister-in-law inform me that this was at 1004-1006 Washington Street in Vicksburg, next to the river. Off-frame to the right would be the intersection with Jackson Street. Today it's an empty lot. The barely visible building in the background is the railroad depot.

The Nassours, who owned the grocery, are still a prominent family in town. If you go to Vicksburg today, look for a pink-and-white building at 2710 Washington Street -- the "Nappie Roots Styling Salon." I kid you not.

The Factory

Taken in Jacksonville around 1980.


Regarding the cluster of Barbershops

My guess is that unlike more affluent establishments, each of these shops probably had one chair and one barber. So if one guy was busy, you'd go to the next. If they weren't near each other, you'd be more inclined to wait for your guy to free up. This way, everyone gets some bidness.


The neighbour of the beast.

American Pie 2

I think that's a '29 Chevy. The 1930 models were very similar, but the windshield was tilted back ever so slightly.


You may scoff at the name, but 666 cough syrup is still hugely popular in the black community. A lot of white people have no idea what it is. The first time someone asked for it at the drug store I work for, I had no clue.

American Pie

Chevy with California plates. What year is the car?

Helluva Cold

That would have to be one devilish cold or fever for me to take "666" brand liquid, tablets or salve.

Dilapidated Much?

I find the photo very intriguing. Even being from the South I've never seen anything like that, things were so much different back then.

Red, white, red, white, etc.

Clever paint scheme on the barber shop.

666 for Colds Fever

666 is such a big deal now; I wonder if it was in 1936.

Vicksburg Blues

This would make a great cover for a Delta Blues album. Maybe it already did.


I'm getting dizzy looking at these buildings

Barbershop Quartet

By my count, four out of five stores shown in the photograph are barbershops. Today, in the mid-size city in South Carolina that I live in there is a short line, about a half block long, of five or so brick buildings of which I can remember only one not containing a barber or beauty shop. The lone holdout was a pawn shop. So what is with this clustering of barbershops?

666 for colds

666 for colds was manufactured in Jacksonville Florida, the factory (no longer there) at the foot of the old Acosta bridge (also no longer there) I think it was grain alcohol and creosote, or something equally nasty. It must have been sold throughout the South. Odd name for a cold remedy from the heart of the Bible Belt.

Monticello Drug Co.

666 cold preparation and cold tablets are still made by Monticello Drug Co.

Founded in 1908 by Tharp and Thurston Roberts, who "obtained a patent on a prescription known as Roberts Remedies #666. This prescription with a high concentration of quinine within the ingredients became the best selling remedy for malaria, chills, fever, influenza, colds, constipation, and bilious headaches. The 666 lines included the liquid, tablets, salve, and nose drops."

"During the depression years, the business continued to grow in spite of the economic situation because the medicine was kept available and affordable. Dr. Roberts was once asked, “How can you make any money when you are only asking 25 cents and 35 cents a bottle?” He answered, "You sell a lot of bottles"; and that he did."

Just outside frame left:

Robert Johnson unpacks his guitar and gets ready to entertain the men on barbershop row.

Reminiscent of "Porgy and Bess"

This photo and the previous one "Sweet Home Alabama" both immediately reminded me of the scenes from 1959's Otto Preminger UNFORGETTABLE film named above starring Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge and an all-star cast of outstanding African-American talents. At the time, there were some protests that the characters were Negro stereotypes which offended some African-Americans, but to this "sheltered life" caucasion Caucasian (me), they were incredibly strong, spirited, deeply emotional and never-to-be-forgotten people who have stayed with me all these years. I think it was one of the best movies EVER, in spite of all the controversy it provoked. The street in the movie was CATFISH ROW and the characters were largely fishermen who sold their wares but in my opinion, it opened up a whole new way to tell a story with music. Cannot believe it was fifty years ago.

Let the Devil take your cold

666 for colds and fever. Not the marketing name I'd pick, but the company is still in business.

How did they do it?

The detail is wonderful as usual but I'm amazed at the tonal range in this and the previous photographs. The people on the shopfronts are in full sun yet you can still read the circus poster in the shadow inside the open door. I could do this digitally but it would take a lot of work. The photographers really knew their stuff.

[Having a negative the size of a windowpane helps. - Dave]

Something Going On

Down the street

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