Often, you hear of celebrations honoring a business that has been around for many years, or praise for a person who has survived cancer, or even a celebration in honor of a person who has gotten to see their 90th birthday. Imagine what an amazing celebration you would have if you could put all of these remarkable accomplishments into one.
Eliza Hanson, owner of Eliza's Beauty Salon, celebrated her 90th birthday in December; Eliza is also a two-time cancer survivor and has still managed to keep her beauty shop up and running. This month, Eliza's Beauty Salon will celebrate its 50th anniversary in Robstown.
"We are all like family here," said Margie Villarreal of Robstown, one of Eliza's beauticians. "We are especially excited about the 50th anniversary celebration of the beauty shop. I think the shop is long overdue a celebration."
Eliza was born in Macdona, Texas in December 1917 to Rafaela Garcia and Marinna Macias. Her family then moved to a small rural community west of San Antonio, where Eliza attended school only until the sixth grade.
Her father passed away early in Eliza's life, leaving Eliza to help raise her brothers and sisters while her mother worked. Eliza is the oldest of six siblings: Joe Garcia, Adela Guerrero, Elvira Garcia, Georgina Greer, Ralph M. Garcia and Robert Garcia. Three of her brothers and one sister, Adela, served in the military.
Today, Eliza and her brother Robert are the only siblings still living. Eliza has many nieces and nephews, for many of whom she is a second mother.
Eliza attended Modern Beauty School in San Antonio where she received her cosmetology license. Her late husband, Fred Hanson, was also a beautician.
In 1941, Eliza and Fred moved from Crystal City to Robstown, the same year Eliza opened up Eliza's Beauty Shop, then located along Avenue A.
"I love working here and being around my customers," Eliza said.
Many of her past students and beauticians still come by to visit and talk with her even now.
Villarreal has been working at the salon since 1965. Eliza and Fred Hanson never had any children, but beauticians of the shop say they are like Eliza's daughters.
"Mr. Hanson used to call us his girls," Villarreal said.
A couple of other long-time beauticians of the salon are Mandy Ortiz, who has been working at the beauty shop since 1971, and Carmen Castro, who has been there for about 11 years.
Eliza is still very active and goes to her beauty shop daily. Many people reach the age of 65 and feel the need to retire, but Eliza is still going strong.
"Eliza has a wonderful sense of humor. She stays calm about everything and she is a very positive person," said Eliza's niece, Karen Greer Bearden, of Austin. "Aunt Eliza is very careful about things and it seems that she never forgets anything."
Some key essentials that play a great part in Eliza's long and happy life are "my faith first and foremost," Eliza said.
Bearden said Eliza's relationships with her customers are the secret to her business's success.
"Although Aunt Eliza only went up to the sixth grade, I think having an education had nothing to do with running her business for this long," Bearden said. "What Eliza has with every customer is a relationship, and I think that building relationships is one thing that has kept her business running."
Eliza is a devoted member of the St. Anthony Catholic Church in Robstown. She also participates annually in the Relay for Life in Calallen where she walks to fight for a cure for cancer. She was honored by the Robstown Historical Commission in 1994 for her many years of business in the community.
Eliza's Beauty Salon, located at 601 Lincoln Ave. in Robstown, will celebrate its 50th anniversary with an open house from 1 to 5 p.m. Feb. 23. The community is invited to celebrate the milestone with Eliza, her family and her friends.