Joe Beardsley remembers his father's hands and the way his fingers looked like hot dogs when the old man cut his hair.
In 16 years, Larry Beardsley never asked the boy how he wanted it. The tough and towering barber simply sat him in a chair and started snipping.
Back then, Joe Beardsley focused on the smell of after-shave and oils in his father's shop. He would relax as he listened to the buzz of clippers.
"He had an extremely gentle touch," Beardsley, now 36, of Crystal Lake, said with a soft Southern accent. "He was like an artist the whole time."
From his own barbershop in Huntley, Joe Beardsley reflected on the afternoons spent with his father. He learned the family profession years ago and decided to make it his own. His son David, a senior at Crystal Lake South, plans to do the same after finishing barber college next fall.
Larry Beardsley still cuts hair in Lanett, Ala., at age 62. When he talks over the telephone, his voice sounds distant and relaxed, like his son's.
He takes pride in the generations that have followed in his shoes.
"Every father wants his children to do better than he did," he said.
The honor is when being better doesn't mean being different.
Growing up, Joe Beardsley didn't always understand his father, but he maintained a level of trust and respect for the man, whom he also feared.
That meant not asking why the family of eight had no TV in its Missouri home and not asking for a specific style from the sacred chair.
"I never once thought of rebelling against my dad," Joe Beardsley said with a laugh. "I thought, boy, if I crossed him, my life would end."
Over the years, softer sides of Larry Beardsley emerged.