The familiar sign attached to the ragged brick wall located at 5114 Navy Road is gone — but it’s moving up the road.
Frenchy’s Barber Shop will now call 5149 Easley St. home. More than 50 years of memories started by the late Clarence Joseph “Frenchy” Levesque have been in the care and skillful hands of his daughter, Yvonne Levesque-McAlphin.
She has taken the torch of clippers and shears, providing the same traditional and friendly customer services to many in Millington and from the surrounding areas. Now Levesque-McAlphin has completed the move to the new location.
“My feelings are anxiety, excited and sad,” she acknowledged. “We’ll have a better building. We’ve been renting for all these years. How many buildings could we have bought? But location was the main thing with him, and he wanted to stay. We talked about buying a building.
“There was never a building he really wanted,” Levesque-McAlphin added. “Everything was too big. He wanted a small town and smaller building for the customers. They are your customers, but then they’re your friends.”
Her friends came in by the dozens during the final week of business at the familiar location. But before the move to 5114 Navy, Frenchy’s called 5122 Navy Road home for decades.
In 1962 Frenchy purchased Laxton’s Barber Shop next door to the Discount Center. The farm owner from Drummonds, married to Mary, was ready to embark on what would become a part of Millington’s fabric.
The Marine was discharged after three years and was ready to settle down. Frenchy had two options once he left the services – to either go into welding or head into barbering school.
“It’s put before you and you’re supposed to grab on,” Levesque-McAlphin said. “Personalitywise, he was friends. It just fit him probably better than welding. He was just a people person.”
When Frenchy’s was born 56 years ago, Levesque was the father of four children: Allan, Lisa, John and Yvonne. The man from Madawaska, Maine, had a vision for his new shop and providing for his family.
That vision grew and became a way for Frenchy to provide for his new hometown.
“So many liked him and I hope they like me too,” Levesque-McAlphin said. “He knew so many people of Millington, like Babe Howard, Mayor Hall. There were so many over the years. There was a friendship and a trust. They felt comfortable with him and he felt comfortable with them. It’s hard to fill my Daddy’s shoes.”
Continuing the legacy and business had brought Yvonne the same connections her father developed over the years. When she unlocked the doors at 5114 Navy Road and prepared for a work day, it became a source of comfort after Oct. 23, 2012.
“Even after Frenchy’s passed, I would come up here and it didn’t feel like he passed,” she said. “I knew he was here.”
Frenchy left his mark all over Millington and South Tipton County, the last location for his military service. He and Mary operated Frenchy’s Barber Shop in Millington for more than 50 years and also owned a cattle farm in Drummonds. He was a member of St. Williams Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus and enjoyed big game hunting, farming, dancing and his family.
He shared those with his friends in the barber chair, as they shared with him. Now the artifacts will move to the new location on Easley, and the doors opened April 3.
“Everything you see in here will go in there,” Yvonne said. “There are a few things that will be unique that we’re placing on the back wall.”
Levesque-McAlphin said that wall will tell the history of Frenchy’s that will live on through the barbers and those who come to get a new style and visit their friends.
“As a person and as my Dad, he was friendly and he liked everybody,” she said. “He shook everybody’s hand. He made them feel like family. He had the perfect personality.
“I hope our friends and customers, which is all one and the same, follow us and continue to support us,” Levesque-McAlphin concluded. “If we have 5 to 10 years left, we’re going for it.”
For more information, call (901) 872-1165.