In anticipation of the anniversary celebration, Reagan restored the outside of her shop to look like it did 30 years ago. Reagan displayed a scrapbook with photos of the shop as it was being built and photos of her first barbers.
“Melissa Weber and Susan Ross were my first two barbers. Then Rhonda Mylnar came to work here. She worked here a long time,” Reagan said as she pointed to photos of the three women.
“Through the years I have had a lot of barbers and beauticians but now it’s just me. I am sort of phasing out and will probably quit cutting hair within the next five years,” Reagan said. “Today Mr. Charles Nichols got his first free haircut after 30 years of being a regular customer. A lot of my customers I have been doing for nearly 30 years.” Reagan said.
Five years ago Reagan quit taking new customers. She started by tapering her barber shop hours, from six days a week to five, then four days, three days and for the last five years two days a week. “I still work seven days a week, it’s just that on Monday and Tuesday, I make crosses in my studio. On Wednesday and Thursday, I cut hair and on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I often do shows.”
Last year Reagan participated in 19 shows and this year, her plans are to do nine shows. “I am slowing down a little. My kids say, ‘Mother, why don’t you retire?’ And I say, ‘I am not ready to give up my extended family, they are part of my life.’ I know if I quit cutting hair I wouldn’t see all of them. I am not ready to give that part up, and I am certainly not ready to give up the rock art, it is just beginning. I don’t think I will ever stop making the crosses.”
The 30-year adventure began when her children went to college. “I decided if life begins at 40, then I should do something, I want to do. So I began cutting hair. I got interested by cutting my sons’ hair. I built the gift shop for Lillian Lee and she ran it until Aubrey, her husband, got sick.”
After Aubrey Lee died, the gift shop came back to Reagan. About 10 years ago while helping a student with his fair project, she discovered her love of rock art. “I prayed for something new for that gift shop and the Lord gave me the rock art. In 1999, Trenton Martinez wanted to do a project for the fair and we decided to do it out of rocks. He made a big Indian; we called it ‘Broken Arrow’. Afterward, I had some of the rocks lying around and I just started shuffling them. And that is how the gift shop came to be ‘The Rock of Ages’,” Reagan said.
“Cutting hair and cutting rocks are both art forms; both are passions. Every person is different; every cross is different, and that is why both are so interesting to me.”
A wall adjacent to the barber shop holds some of Reagan’s first crosses. She calls it her “collector’s wall”. The first cross she preserved is called “Madonna”. The image of Madonna on the cross is made from “lightning-struck” sandstone. “In her hands she holds the Rose of Sharon,” said Reagan.
“While I was at the Fort Worth Street Art Festival in 1999, a man offered me $8,000 for the Madonna. He told me his wife wants it and he was willing to pay the price. I told him, “I am tempted and I am really flattered that you like my work but there are some things that are not about money. This is a ministry of mine that I should share,” Reagan said.
“Madonna and the cross with Mary, Joseph and Jesus always travel with me,” Reagan continued. In the cross that depicts Mary and Joseph with the baby Jesus, you can easily see the face of Jesus as an adult. “It is Jesus from birth to resurrection.” Mary’s frock is made from blue sodalite and her skirt is made from petrified wood. Joseph’s robe is golden palm.
Others on the collector’s wall include “Padre Pepper,” made from sandstone found in McMullen County. He has a flint cross upon his chest. “Cheyenne Warrior” was made from rocks in their natural, uncut state. “Raven” was created as a mate for “Cheyenne Warrior.” She is made from the same type of rock.
Reagan pointed to another cross and said, “This one is made from rocks Darlene Bellows gave me that belonged to her husband, J.G. [Bellows]. When I cut the rock I saw the letters J G in the rock. I tried to wash it off because I thought, surely I am not seeing that but, it didn’t wash off. Darlene and Mildred [Bellows] have been so sweet to bring me their husbands’ rock collections,” Reagan said.
“The rock art is a ministry that the Lord has given me. It is his work; it is my hands, and as long as he leads me in that direction I will continue to do it,” Reagan said.