Monday, April 20, 2009

Cutting it Close

Last Saturday was haircut day. My son-in-law and I got our bimonthly haircuts from my daughter. One of the many schools that she attended was a Cosmetology School. She was nineteen years old and thought that it would be fun plus very profitable to become a beautician. This career lasted for about a year and a half before she decided that she needed a more formal education and move on to bigger and better things.

First she went to work for a Title Company owned by a friend of mine. Then she went to study to be a paralegal. After that I can’t remember what she wanted to be, but as we all should know; going to school is a lot better than going to work. But the bottom line is that she gives very good haircuts.

Later that evening I reminisced with her about going to first Barber Shop that I could recall. I knew that I had gotten haircuts before this time but couldn’t recollect where.

I was eight years old and had just acquired a new Dad (my birth father had passed away). I moved from the north side of Chicago to the southwest side of the city. My new neighborhood was predominately Bohemian and Polish with an added mixture of Italian and Irish. Needless to say it was a very Catholic neighborhood.

There were two neighborhood Barber Shops, both under 3 blocks away from our house. They were Union Shops, so the prices for tonsorial services were the same at both shops and posted on the wall.

The shop that my Dad frequented was a 3 chair shop with two barbers. One of the barbers was Polish and the other was Italian, plus they had a shoeshine man. Both barbers were close to my Dad’s age (late 30’s – early 40’s). The other local shop had younger barbers and no shoeshine man.

Dad's favorite Barber Shop had mirrors across two walls (in front and back of the chairs), a seven seat waiting area and a 17 inch black and white floor model television (which was only turned on for baseball games and news programming). There were usually 2 or 3 old geezers sitting in the waiting area, reading newspapers or magazines (Field and Stream, Readers Digest, Popular Mechanics etc; they hid the Esquire Magazines when a kid came into the shop).

The barbers, the customers and the geezers would talk about world events, sports and the weather. Occasionally they would tell a joke. If it was a dirty joke it would be told in Polish if I was in the shop.

The Black Shoeshine man spoke both Italian and Polish; he had worked at the shop before the current barbers owned it. He was the source of many of the dirty jokes.

A shine cost 10 cents but my Dad usually gave him a quarter; probably because he spoke Polish.

My Dad would get a trim every two weeks for 50 cents. Until I turned 13 years old my haircuts were only a quarter and I went once per month. I think that my Dad went to the Barber Shop more so for the banter and repartee than the haircut.

A shave was 25 cents (I first indulged myself with this luxury when I was 16 years old (to cut off the peach fuzz). You were shaved with a straight razor that they would sharpen on the strop the hung on the barber chair. Steaming towels were first wrapped around your face to soften the beard. The shaving cream was applied with a brush out of a mug. The entire process was a little slice of heaven.

Since that time I have always sought out Barber Shops rather than going to the Unisex Hair Salons, such as the Hair Butchery (Cuttery). When I lived on Treasure Island I would drive 6 miles into St. Petersburg rather than visit one of the several salons on the island. It was well worth the drive! It brought back good childhood memories

The Beach Bum

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