Covington’s charm lies in its historic homes, iconic clock tower and Southern hospitality.
That charm is echoed in its long-standing merchants, community members and those providing services to the people of Covington and Newton County.
Lewis Mason discovered that charm 52 years ago, and continues to spread it to this day.
In 1962, Mason opened his first barber shop in the Covington Meadows shopping center after taking out a simple advertisement in The Covington News announcing the Mason Brothers-owned shop was hosting its grand opening, featuring a door prize. The shop was to open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
The 84-year-old currently runs a by-appointment shop, Mason’s Cuts and Styles, on Mill Street, offering the barber services he first learned in 1957. He works about three days a week, still operating his own shop, and serving customers with the same personal touch he has for decades.
"I just love it," Mason said. "My wife sometimes accuses me of wanting to be at the barber shop more than at home. I just enjoy meeting people"
The ability to work with people is one of the things that drew Mason to his lifelong profession in the first place. At 28 Mason was looking for a job and found a skill, enrolling in barber school.
In 1958, he began working at a barber shop in the Parkview Plaza in Atlanta, where an employee of shopping-plaza neighbor W.T. Grant's came in for a haircut one day. Charles Smith had a regular barber, who was out that day, so he decided to get his ears lowered by the new guy, Mason.
From that first haircut, Smith continued to go back to Mason, and when Mason opened his own business in Covington in 1962, it turned out W. T. Grant's moved Smith to that same shopping plaza.
"We were again in the same shopping center," Smith, a Conyers resident, said. "He had his own shop around the corner, and I just picked it up right there. I always followed him where he went."
Smith still has a monthly appointment with Mason, and throughout the past 56 years, he's missed only two haircuts, while he was living in Virginia Beach.
It’s a friendship that was developed over many hours in the barber shop and outside of it. The two have become good friends, telling endless stories, traveling together on business trips and hosting each other for dinners.
"When the friendship thing kicked in, I hadn’t even thought about going anywhere else since," Smith said.
A lot of Mason’s customers feel the same way, including Bill and Vicky Jackson, who have been going to Mason for more than 30 years.
"He cuts your hair and feeds your soul," Vicky Jackson said.
Mason takes his time cutting hair, talking with customers, getting to know them, and, still after all these years, appreciating his job and the people it brings into his life.
"People keep asking me when I’m going to completely retire," Mason said. "I tell them when it gets to where I dread going in to work more than two or three days a week. Right now I dread probably two or three days a year."