Booker T. Wilkins has been cutting hair at All American Barbershop on the corner of Queen and N. Henry in Alexandria VA for over 50 years. 

He opened his shop way back in 1968 and has been a permanent and much-loved fixture of the community ever since. 

Patrons come here get the latest gossip and discuss local politics and mostly ­– but not always – to get their hair cut.

When Booker opened the barbershop this was the rough part of Alexandria. Kids were forbidden to venture here alone. But, like the rest of Alexandria, it has been gentrified. Booker points out a house across the road. It had just sold for $800,000.

For the moment, the All American Barbershop remains unchanged from the day it opened. 

Patrons get their hair cut in old-school, red leather barber chairs.

Booker keeps his ‘instruments’ in jars filled with a mysterious clear liquid.

And the haircuts are simple and utilitarian.

The only nod to modernity is an American flag hanging above the mirrors with a picture of President Obama in the centre.

You won’t find Booker’s customers complaining.

Most are retirees. All of them have been getting their haircut here since they were teenagers.

The All American Barbershop is a comforting constant as all else changes in Alexandria.

Just a couple of blocks from Alexandria’s bustling King Street, it’s also the quickest way for a visitor to get to the heart of the local community.

Main image: Booker T. Wilkins cutting a customer’s hair (© Peter Moore)