By Larry Riddle
In 2001 I stopped and worked here in Damascus and I got my beard and bald head trimmed a few times at Eula’s Hairstyling. When I moved here in 2006 one of the first things I did was get a haircut from Eula. I felt a sense of belonging when I sat in that chair with a room full of women who were either waiting their turn or in the process of getting their hair dried. I was reminded of the times as a little boy of going with my mother to the local hair salon when my dad was stationed in Viet-Nam. There was always laughter and stories of the past.
Eula’s Hairstyling is a namesake around here. She has been in business for about twenty years. Eula was born in 1951 and raised here in Damascus, VA. She has been married for 47 years to Kenneth Sluder. While I was interviewing her one of her customers, Ken Necessary, a local musician, said, “When I was a young man I tried to get after Eula but she wanted her a city slicker instead”. She replied, “Oh my, I married a farmer and if nothing else a hard working country boy”. Eula had eleven other siblings but only she and three others are still alive. Eula has two children, four grandkids and one on the way.
There has been many a hiker that has stayed with me that had already pre-planned on their itinerary to stop in to meet Eula or to have their hair trimmed because they have read about her from some blog someone had posted about her. Her name and place are passed up and down the Appalachian Trail regularly as an institution of sorts. She keeps a “Trail Journal” where the many hikers who have visited have written their thoughts and gratitude for having met her. Occasionally I will read some praise on the internet myself about her.
Eula says, “The story here is about the women that come and get their hair done, and some about the men like Ken sitting here”. There weren’t any women there while I was visiting for this story but I have talked to a few ladies in town that just love her much. Eula says she mostly does the hair of older women because they keep her in business and she knows most of them because they were born and raised here as well.
There is not a dog in this town, including my Sally, when we are walking downtown that won’t stop their owners when they come to Eula’s front door because Eula loves animals and especially dogs. I usually walk Sally without a leash because she will stay near me and there have been more than one occasion where Sally would just go ahead to Eula’s, stand at the door looking in through the glass door waiting for me to catch up while glancing back at me and giving me that look like “Will you hurry up please”!. There have been several times before I get to the door where Eula has opened the door and let her in and given her a snack and then let her back out as I arrived.
Carolyn Henderson says, “Eula is so much like her mother, Mrs. Deel. Eula has a ‘soothing, gentle, loving spirit’ about her. She was like that when she was growing up. Throughout the years she has not changed. I have never heard her say an ugly word about anyone. She came from a good hard working family.”
Joan Dean says, “I will never forget Eula taking care of Gladys Watson,
my niece when she was alive. Gladys’s children could not find a hair
salon that would work on their mother because of the fact she a bad case of Cradle Cap. Eula said she would work on her hair
and eventually she was able to cure Gladys of her