Ruel Armas

Dodge & Armas Barbershop, Mendocino, 1903-1912. Ruel Armas (left), cuts the hair of Fred Brown. On the right, Lee Dodge, stands next to client, Ed Boyle.

March 19, 1938 – Ruel Rodgers Armas, a former resident of Mendocino, died at his home in Oakland. Born in Boston in 1873, his parents moved their family to Mendocino when he was just a year old. “It was here where he spent his boyhood days attending the local schools. It was here where he distinguished himself as an outstanding track man and baseball star having played shortstop on the local team and winning the county championship in the hundred and two-twenty races.”

In 1893, Ruel attended the San Francisco Business College. While there, he met Hilma Johnson, whom he married in 1898, bringing her back to Mendocino as his bride.

In 1901, Ruel opened a barbershop in partnership with J. L. Dodge, first working out of the Alhambra Hotel. Two years later, they moved their “Tonsorial Parlor” to Dr. W. H. Hodghead’s new building on Main Street, east of the Central Hotel (Mendocino Hotel in 2022). This structure later became “Dick’s Place.”

The Beacon described the new barber shop, “The main room is seventeen feet square, has large windows that afford plenty of light and there is sufficient room for both artists and customers. An elegant marble lavatory occupies the middle of the room which is indeed a handsome as well as useful piece of furniture. It is supplied with hot and cold water faucets, and also has a shampoo attachment with a rose nozzle, which furnishes either hot or cold water from the same nozzle. The two bath rooms in the rear are both of ample size, and the two large porcelain bath tubs, supplied with hot and cold water, appeal to one in search of a luxurious ablution. The entire building is well lighted by electricity, and new furniture and plenty of good literature renders a ‘wait’ almost a pleasure. The boys are bound to sustain the popularity of their establishment in its new location.” Ruel and his partner continued to operate their successful business in this building until 1912.

Ruel’s son, Clarence, was born in 1911, and Ruel decided that the city offered more advantages for a young man, so the Armas family moved to Oakland the following year. There, Ruel established California Pleating, a large pleating and button works company, which he ran for 21 years.

Ruel was survived by his wife, son, and half-brother Joseph Neto of Oakland.

New Exhibit! Neighbors Across the Pond – Vintage Photographs & Objects from the Ford & Kelley Family Collections. Exhibit includes glass bottles, dolls, and clay pipes excavated from the historic Kelley Pond. Thursdays through Sundays, 11 am to 3 pm. Located at 45007 Albion Street, Mendocino.