By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- They didn't use to be men the cops would trust with a sharp instrument.
Today, though, police officers are more than willing to let Keith Jordan, Eric Rogers and Tony Donaldson get close with scissors and razors.
"It wasn't too long ago that I'd be running from the cops and now they are making appointments to see me," said Jordan, owner of Cheese's Barber Shop at 956 W. Market Street. "We have officers that come in for haircuts and they don't have secret indictments with them."
Known as "Cheese," Jordan said he and his fellow-barbers have done time for drug-related crimes and are thankful that they have been able to quit their drug habits.
All three have been drug-free for at least two years.
Had to choose: "It's not easy to get on the right track, but it comes to a point where you have only two choices, suicide or God. I chose God and I got my life straightened out," Jordan said.
The three said they speak freely about their past mistakes because they want to help their young customers make the right choices.
"Some of the young people that come in here don't have parents that pay attention to what they do or have time for them, so we talk to them," Donaldson said. "We can tell them true hard facts because we've been there."
Rogers and Jordan said many young people become involved with selling drugs because the money is good.
"It looks real glamorous on television, but, they don't tell you the bad things that come with selling drugs, like getting robbed, getting in fights and trying to hide from the FBI and cops," Jordan said.
Rogers said that despite the trouble he got into, it still took him several years to kick the drug habit.
"All of a sudden, I woke up one morning and I realized that I was 36 years old and I was nowhere," said Rogers, who has been barbering at the shop since 1998.
"I realized that I didn't want to be in trouble anymore. I made my mind up and that was it. I want others to know what I went through so maybe they will decide to make the right choices."
Hard to get work: Rogers, who earned his barber license in prison, said getting off drugs was only half the battle; trying to find employers who will hire a person with a criminal record is "very hard."
Jordan, too, had trouble when he first decided to quit drugs. He knew he wanted to be a barber but Akron Barber College didn't want him.
"My minister had to keep calling and convince them that I would be a good student," Jordan said. "There were many days that I would drive to Akron with only $3 worth of gas in my car because I had no money and I would wonder if I made the right decision.
"I know today that I did the right thing."
All three credit their wives for helping them get over their drug addictions.
"My wife, LaJuana, had to work two jobs so I could go to school," Jordan said. "Now she is going to school to be a registered nurse. Things are looking up."