Opinion: Finding Meaning 


Sixty Years of Service 

Rudy Campos, owner of Wally’s Barbershop, 60 years into a career and still going strong. Photo/Skip Hellewell 

Do you know anyone in Laguna who has happily provided the same service for sixty years and is just as needed now as when they started? This Indy issue marks the 60th anniversary of when Rudy Campos started cutting hair at Wally’s Barber Shop—Aug. 11, 1963. Here’s the story of a Laguna institution founded by Wally Stark and now owned by Rudy Campos. 

Wally Stark started barbering at a shop on the Main Beach boardwalk after World War II before those buildings were removed in the late 70s to create today’s “window to the sea.” He later moved to the alley between Forest and Ocean, behind Holmes Store for Men, and then to the current location on Beach Street. When Wally retired in 1977, he sold the business to two of his barbers, Rudy Campos and Dennis “Moto” Suzuki. Wally didn’t completely retire, as his wife would send him back to the shop when he or she needed a break.  

Rudy’s partner Moto had an interesting story. After the outbreak of World War II, his parents, of Japanese origin, though born in the U.S., were sent to an internment camp on a Native American reservation near Arizona’s Gila River, where Moto was born in 1943. An interesting feature of the camp was a display of members serving in the military despite the internment of their families. Moto later found his way to Laguna Beach, where he took up barbering and became a partner with Rudy until his retirement due to illness.  

Rudy’s resume is simple: Six years with the U.S. Marine Corps and sixty years cutting hair at Wally’s Barber Shop. Due to his long tenure, Rudy is a good source of downtown information and may know more Laguna people than anyone in town, both men and women. One constant? Laguna’s colorful characters, including Eiler Larsen the Greeter, who would come in once a year for a shampoo, haircut and beard trim. Eiler always got his money’s worth.  

Much has changed over the years; of the retail businesses from that time, only Wally’s Barber Shop and Bushard’s Pharmacy remain. Though times change, Wally’s is remarkably the same. It’s still a walk-in barbershop for men, and the tools are still the comb and scissors. Rudy is a happy person without a discernible ego, proud of his service in the USMC, and content with his life in Laguna. Rudy doesn’t have a plan to retire. His lease has over two years remaining, and it seems he’ll barber as long as he can. As he sums it up, “Barbering has been good to me, and I’m still happy barbering.” The more I think about it, the more remarkable Rudy seems. There’s meaning in that.

Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach.” Email: [email protected].

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