2012 AH Classic Wall CalendarShop the AH Store >>

Our 2015 calendars are now available!

Classic Wall Calendar

CL15 $10.99

Our classic 13-month spiral-bound calendar features 30 full-color photographs and a handy map of Arizona on the back.

Order Now >>
Purchase Camping GuideShop the AH Store >>

Featured Book

Arizona Highways
Camping Guide

AGCS3 $22.95

Our newest book, which includes Arizona Highways iconic photography and maps, is sorted by region and is written for car-campers and families. Detailed information about accessibilty, amenities and fees is included for each campground.

Order Now >>
2011 AH Wildlife CalendarSee Selection of Images >>

Featured Prints

Poster Prints
Special Edition Prints

Many of the extraordinary images found in our award-winning magazine, scenic coffee-table books and exquisite calendars can be purchased as fine posters and prints.

Order Now >>
Shop the AH Store >>

Featured Gift Item

Centennial Issue Reprint

SPCENN2 $4.99

If you missed our February 100-page Centennial Issue on newsstands earlier this year, here's your second chance to get a copy of this special collector's edition of Arizona Highways magazine..

Order Now >>

  • print page
  • Tell a Friend
  • Post to Facebook
  • YouTube
  • past to del.icio.us
BULLETpeople archive
People Archive Photo
© Brendan Moore

>> Click on image to view
it larger in a separate window.
The Artful Barber
He looks like Ernest Hemingway, he cuts hair like nobody's business, and he's an accomplished illustrator who was friends with Charles M. Shultz. Yep, Ron Thomas is a total character.

By Maryal Miller

Phoenix To really get a feel for who Ron Thomas is — a 68-year-old Phoenix barber whose very being hearkens back to the days of Mayberry — throw on some Motown and kick back with a long-neck bottle of Coke. Good, isn't it? A classic always is. It's pure and unadulterated, recalling a time when life was a little simpler. The same could be said of this Hemingway look-alike, who's as refreshing as the old familiar scent of Pinaud powder that lingers nostalgically on his stalwart hands.

"Back at my first shop in the early '60s, my partner and I wore suits with houndstooth slacks — the whole getup," Thomas laughs. "That was pretty authentic. I've changed things up a bit, but my methods are exactly the same."

Honoring the fundamentals of yesteryear, Thomas keeps his practice old school, as one of the last masters of the straight-razor barbering profession. At his small shop in central Phoenix, dubbed Occam's Edge Haircutters (after William of Ockham), Thomas has trimmed and shaved some of the city's most notable personalities. And he's been doing so for the last four decades, in 45-minute, full-service appointments (shoeshine included), free of any electric assistance, with one of the only women allowed inside the gentleman's guild — his man-manicurist Betty — by his side. "Hey, important men need good-looking hands," she quips.

Although Thomas seldom reveals what goes down inside the man cave, he will divulge a few juicy tidbits. Jerry Colangelo's a longtime client and friend (Thomas attended his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame). "I was right here when Jerry fired Wally [Backman]," Thomas says of the former Diamondbacks' manager. Terry Goddard was at Occam's before he was mayor. Thomas misses Cotton Fitzsimmons "like hell," and many of the Phoenix 40 were regulars at the shop. Impressed yet?

If not, consider that at a time when many barbers, no matter the style, are begging for business, Thomas has the privilege of keeping his shop obscure, free of the classic candy-cane pole outside, working on a strict, referral-only basis, with a robust client roster. No, he doesn't chase youngsters away hollering "hooligans," but most of his clients are older, loyal, and have visited since their adolescence — some with weekly standing appointments.

Oh, and Ron's also a seasoned angler, a talented artist working on his fifth book of illustrations, a collector (the walls are covered with original memorabilia any historical museum would envy), and he even won the famous Ernest Hemingway Look-Alike Contest in Key West in 2002. Kind of makes you wonder: What have I done lately?

>> Back to People Archive


Story ArchivesFind previously published stories online... [more]

Global SnapshotsSend us a photo of you or someone you know posing with Arizona Highways. We'll post it on our website. It's that simple... [more]

Photo of the DaySend us a photo of you or someone you know posing with Arizona Highways. We'll post it on our website. It's that simple... [more]

 

Social MediaJoin our Facebook, Twitter and Flickr communities for behind-the-scenes glimpses at Arizona Highways... [more]

Events & PromotionsEscape, experience and explore Arizona, one event at a time... [more]

Travel GuidesThere's so much to see and do in Arizona. Let our online travel guide be your one-stop resource for planning your next Arizona adventure... [more]

site map  |  terms of use  |  privacy policy  |  corporate sales  |  about us  |  contact us

Arizona Highways Television AZ Dept. of Transportation AZ Dept. of Public Safety Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

© Copyright 2014 Arizona Department of Transportation, State of Arizona. All rights reserved. Reproduction in part or whole without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. The images on this Web site are copyrighted, digitally watermarked and registered with the Digimarc tracking system. All rights reserved. Copying and downloading images from this site are strictly prohibited.