Bobby Mitchell, born in Bertie County, NC in 1917, grew up in Askewville, NC. He went into barbering in 1935, going to barber school in Norfolk, VA. He began his career in Windsor, NC after receiving his barber's license. In 1937, Mitchell moved to Columbia, Tyrrell County, NC and opened up shop as a barber. In 1942, Mitchell joined the Navy and worked first on a submarine chaser and then as a barber on the Norfolk Naval Base. In 1945, aboard the USS Selinur in the Pacific Ocean, Mitchell witnessed the atomic bombings and typhoons. He was discharged from the Navy in 1945 and spent the next seven decades cutting hair in Columbia, NC.