Needles, CA: Getting To Know Our Community: Duke Watkins Park.

By: Zachary Lopez (ZachNews)

Source: Needles Regional Museum (Information)

Needles, California: ZachNews is getting to know our community, with help by the great volunteers at the Needles Regional Museum.

Today we’re checking out Duke Watkins Park, located off J Street before Civic Center Drive in Needles, California.

The park was named after Lloyd “Duke” Watkins, who was born on March 12th, 1910.

In 1916, Lloyd arrived in Needles, California with his mother and brother Stanley.

Shortly after, Lloyd’s mother marries John Lashley, a black man who owned a local barber shop at Front Street and D Street in Downtown Needles, California.

Between 1920-1929, Lloyd and his brother worked in their stepfather’s barber shop cutting wood and maintaining the hot water for the baths, washing and ironing the towels, cleaning the tubs and shining shoes.

In 1929, out of love and respect for his stepfather, Lloyd applies to Mohler Barber College and is the first black man to be accepted. Upon graduation, Lloyd returns to Needles, California and works in the barber shop with his stepfather.

In 1948, Lloyd takes over the barber shop when his stepfather John loses his eyesight.

In 1967, Lloyd was awarded a plaque honoring his 40 years of service to his community and the Youth of Needles. Lloyd worked with the youth through the Needles Recreation Department, and was instrumental, along with Walter Hammerslaugh, in getting land for Little League baseball fields in Needles, California.

On March 15th, 1982, Lloyd “Duke” Watkins passed away having worked over 50 years as a barber in Needles, California.

Today, the park was named after Lloyd “Duke” Watkins is used by kids and families, enjoying the grassy field, having a barbecue under the covered picnic tables or doing some great moves at the skateboard park.

As seen in the picture above, the old barber shop signage is on display inside the Needles Regional Museum.

Want to know more about our community of Needles, California, please make a visit inside the Needles Regional Museum, located at 929 Front Street near G Street, in Downtown Needles, California.

The Needles Regional Museum is opened from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. PT Monday through Saturday.

Thanks to the great volunteers at the Needles Regional Museum, and we hope you all enjoyed getting to know our community.


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