He was known as “Turi” by his loved ones and longtime friends or “Chacon,” but by whichever name, one thing is abundantly clear: Arturo Campos Chacon – who passed away Aug. 28 at the age of 81 from complications of chronic illnesses – will be dearly missed, and remembered by many as their favorite neighborhood barber who ran Chacon’s Barber Shop in San Fernando for decades.
Located on the corner of Woodworth and Kalisher streets, Chacon’s was an old-school barber shop, where they didn’t take appointments and conversations in both Spanish and English – with the snipping sounds of Turi’s supersized hair scissors – filled the room. Worn copies of Playboy were in magazine racks on the wall.
Customers didn’t mind waiting their turn for one of the two traditional barber chairs – it was a spot where you could hang out and chill with your vecinos before and after your haircut.
Melissa Ann Lopez recounted on the Facebook page of the San Fernando Valley Sun/el Sol that as a little girl, her grandmother would drop off her grandfather at Chacon’s to get a haircut, and when they picked him up two or three hours later, “My grandpa would have a ‘lil buzz going on and always came out of there super happy.” And when her grandfather passed away, Turi Chacon went to pay his respects.
“As a child, I didn’t understand, but as I got older I realized it was more than a barbershop – it was a place for the men to come, relax, bs… and have a few cold ones,” wrote Lopez. “[Thank you] for giving my grandpa the best experience and friendship one could ask for.” The shop would span generations of families – as the spot in San Fernando where grandfathers, sons and then grandsons would get their hair cut.
A Family Legacy
The history of Chacon’s dates back to 1951, when it was actually Turi Chacon’s late father Jesus who opened the corner barber shop that “he built with his own two hands” with the help of the surrounding community.
The shop was around for most of Turi’s life – it was built and opened when he was a child, right next door to their “little house,” reflected Mary Mendoza, one of Turi’s three sisters. Mendoza, who currently serves as vice mayor for the City of San Fernando, said her father developed the original construction plans for the barbershop, got all the necessary approvals and worked alongside neighbors and local workers to make it a reality.
Turi’s daughter Olivia Chacon said that her father often shared stories with her about those early days.
The elder Chacon constructed the shop with four showers that provided a place to shower for local braceros (temporary workers from Mexico) because many rented single rooms or garages didn’t have anywhere to bathe, explained Olivia. For 50 cents, the men would get a comb, towel, bar of soap, toothbrush and toothpaste and use of the shower. In the early years, the shop would be open for showers, haircuts, straight-razor shaves and shoe shines from as early as 6:30 a.m. to as late as midnight, depending on the day of the week.
The shop was very much a family business, said Mendoza, noting that she and her siblings would help their mother sweep, dust, clean and wash towels when the shop was closed, and the kids would deliver their mom’s home-made burritos to their dad for his meals while he was working.
But, she pointed out with a laugh, girls were discouraged from lingering in the shop while it was open, because it was usually filled with men, they understood and were fine with the “unspoken rule.” She also chuckled at one of her memories, likely in the early 60’s, when it seemed all the men were coming out of the shop with a flat-top hairstyle.
Mendoza said her brother followed her father’s example. Turi went to barber school after graduating from San Fernando High School and started working at Chacon’s not long after. The father and son team worked together side by side for years, until his father retired in 1974, when Turi took over the shop. He ran it until he retired in 2007, the year after his father Jesus – the original Chacon – passed away.
Mendoza said her father and brother shared a similar work ethic and described their primary goals as business owners were to serve their community and to be “good providers to their families.”
“They wanted to make sure their families were all taken care of,” she said. “That was my father’s goal … and my brother continued that legacy … for his own kids and his grandkids. Our [entire family] has all benefited … from what my father taught us and from all of their hard work.”
Chacon’s Barber Shop served the City of San Fernando as both a local business and a beloved gathering place for more than 55 years. Although Turi eventually sold the property sometime after his retirement, nostalgic emotions about the shop and about both Chacon barbers remain indelibly marked in the memories of many area residents.
“All my five brothers always went to Chacon’s barbershop in the barrio since we lived down the street from the shop on Rincon Ave. and I remember when my oldest brother Joe took me with him,” said Chula Vega. “He took me to cucos to get candy so I could sit quietly and busy while Chacon cut his hair.”
Yvonne Chavez, who was born and raised in San Fernando near Santa Rosa Church, recalled her father and little brother going to Chacon’s for haircuts “in the barrio” on Kalisher when she was young. Years later, she would drive her father to the shop and drop him off for a haircut.
“I’d go back an hour later and peek in and Turi would say, ‘Not yet mija,’” she wrote. “My dad liked to go there because it was like [a] men’s lounge. … [Turi] always had a full shop, but [people] didn’t mind waiting their turn. My dad even took my boys to get their hair cut there. “[Turi] was a great man and is going to be deeply missed,” said Chavez.
Such are the sentiments that Olivia has heard about her father her whole life.
Olivia tearfully recounted how widely beloved he was by so many people, both near and far. “My dad was the very best man and very well known. Everywhere he went, everybody knew him.”
Editor Diana Martinez contributed to this article.
Services will be held Sept. 11 at Guerra Gutierrez Mortuaries, at 1001 N. Maclay Ave. in San Fernando, with viewing from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and a rosary prayer at 7 p.m. A funeral Mass will be held the next day at 10 a.m. in Santa Rosa Church, at 668 S. Workman Street in San Fernando. Internment will follow at San Fernando Mission Cemetery, at 15543 Rinaldi St. in Mission Hills.