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Nels Is Golden
Nels 1 - FRONT
Nel Vieira, third from left, shares a smile with current and former employees as part of the Open House celebration to mark her 50 years in business at 1514 Second St., where she opened her Nels Hair Fashions in 1965. VIRGINIA STILL/THE TIMES


Celebrating fifty years in business isn’t something that happens all too often – especially when the business has been in the same location and owned by the same person all five decades.

But that’s exactly what happened on Sunday, as Nel Vieira hosted an Open House at her 1514 Second Street business, Nel’s Hair Fashions, in Escalon and welcomed back former employers and customers, community supporters and current clientele.

“People that you never expected showed up,” said Nel, noting that family members had done a little social media advertising, posing the event on Facebook and helping get the word out.

“We have a very good turnout, we couldn’t have accommodated a lot more people, once we got the food tables in,” Nel added. “It was a very good party.”

Along with the table of party hors d’oeuvres running down the length of the shop, there were also bulletin boards displaying photos, newspaper clippings, notes and memorabilia from 50 years in the business.

Nel said she remembered about two dozen past employees to invite, and many were able to come throughout the day, but she is leaving the bulletin board displays up for those that weren’t able to get for the festivities on June 28.

She said though the day was warm, the air inside the shop was light, with laughter the mainstay of the afternoon.

“Those hairdressers, I tell you, it is a wild party,” Nel said, chuckling. “There was a lot of giggling going on.”

The day gave many people a chance to reconnect, one even saying it was like “having a class reunion” because of all the people they had the chance to visit.

Nel said past employees especially enjoyed catching up.

“They reminisced about customers, those they liked and those they didn’t like so much,” she noted.

Throughout the day, Nel said she had people remarking that she “hadn’t changed” a bit.

“So I said to them, ‘You mean to say I have looked like an 80-year-old woman all these years and you never told me?’ ” Nel said, laughing.

But working and staying active keeps her youthful and energized, even having reached the 80-year mark. She also still drives and provides transportation for a longtime customer, Zola Pritchard, wife of the late Dr. James Pritchard, former superintendent of the Escalon school district.

“She has been coming here since 1967,” Nel said of the 90-plus year-old Pritchard. “She doesn’t have transportation now so I pick her up. She and some of the other ladies are dependent on me, they tell me don’t dare to quit.”

Nel works four days during the week, maintaining a busy schedule. She said in the future, if she needs help with transportation “when I get old,” she hopes someone will be there to return the favor for her.

She was extremely pleased that many of her family members were able to attend, including three-week-old great grandchildren twins, a boy and a girl. And another family member sent well wishes from afar.

“My grandson in Sweden sent me a congratulatory card, you think maybe these kids don’t know or don’t care, he went to all the trouble to send me congratulations from Sweden,” she said.

Overall, Nel added, the day couldn’t have gone much better.

“It was a very good party,” she said. “Everyone had fun; that was the important part of it.”