LaPlace business still on cutting edge

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 2004

By SUE ELLEN ROSS – Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – His oldest customer is 98-years-old; his business has been located in the same place for 53 years; and there is a street named for him.

You could say that Luce Marks, Jr. and his Main Street barber shop are not only long-lasting, but hold the designation as significant cornerstones of LaPlace.

The 74-year-old barber has always worked at Marks Barber Shop alone. “The more barbers you have, the more confusion,” he said. “Over the years, I could have hired someone, but I did okay by myself.”

Indeed he did, making such a good impression that many customers have become like family. The dedicated barber even travels to his regular customers that may not be able to come to the shop, such as those in nursing homes.

After high school graduation, Marks worked on a tugboat for Louisiana Dredging. He thought his career would continue in this line of work.

That was not to be.

A friend suggested he try barber college, and he traveled to Houston, TX to prepare for that career.

His first job was at Happy Jacks Barber Shop in Norco. That was in 1949, and he stayed for two years. Clientele came from neighboring communities. “Half of LaPlace came to Norco,” said the seasoned barber. One of those first customers, Adam Schnexyder, 82, still visits Marks at his LaPlace location.

In 1951, Marks brother-in-law suggested he open his own shop. A friend, Cliff Montz, had purchased a large building on Main Street in LaPlace. There was already one business in the building – a barroom. But Montz felt the town needed a barber shop.

Marks took him up on his suggestion, and has kept his hair-cutting establishment at this same location for more than half a century.

The one-chair shop has been constantly busy throughout the years. There were times when hairstyles changed, but Marks changed with them.

“When the beatles (and long hair) came in, in the 60’s, I took styling classes to learn to work with it,” he said.

Keeping up with the times has definitely paid off for Marks, as customers of all ages visit his business each week.

Mondays are the traditional day off for those in his profession, but Marks still sees his customers. Not for haircuts, but socially. Many of them drop by his house to exchange vegetables or just for conversation.

The new generation is also getting in on the action at Marks Barber Shop.

Marks’ great-grandson, Devon Ru-cker, 2, recently stopped in with his mom, Angelle Sellars, for a trim. The youngster has a special bond with his great-grampa, according to Sellars, so it was logical that he would become his barber.

“Seeing my son and Grampa together is so amazing,” she said. “This is his second haircut, so he is getting used to it.”

Marks lives on a short street located off Old Highway 51 called Barber Dr. It used to be called E. 30th St.

The name change came into existence in regard to the Emergency 911 System. There were two E. 30th Streets, according to Marks, and a re-naming committee was assigned by the Parish.

Mark’s friend, Marion Broussard, was on that committee. He suggested the name Barber Dr. due to the fact that Marks and his family were one of the first to build their house on the street, and he also had a long-standing business in LaPlace. “I was very honored,” said Marks. “And my family was very excited.”

There are no retirement plans in the near future for the energetic barber.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” he said of his enduring career. “As long as I feel good, I’ll continue.”