23 June 2009

a little off the top


the barbershop.

When but just a wee lad, my dad would take me into town with him to Don the barber. Often dad would drop me off, tell Don to get to me when he had the chance and he'd be back to pick me up...that he had errands to run while in town. At around 7 years old, I felt like big stuff, with all the other men sitting around the little gas station turned barber shop there on the highway. Of course, then the clock would tick by and no dad. Even after my haircut....then finally he'd show up. He and Don had a running joke where Don would ask me if I thought my dad would actually come back for me, and that he could always put me to work sweeping up hair clippings.

great haircut, eh?
Don's barber shop had that checkerboard green and white linoleum tile floor. There was a barber pole outside the front door. And I remember the big sink with all these glass bottles of various tonics and such. And then there was the big red chair with the leather strap my dad told me was for whoopin kids who misbehaved. I thought it was madness to be scraping a razor blade across it, but dared not question Don the barber.

Whenever I went to get my haircut, which was straight until I was about 14, Don would have this worn old piece of wood that he would straddle the arms of the chair with so that I could sit on it....I don't ever remember going anywhere else, so I probably started at around 4? I'd get a sucker too, if I was good. But it seemed that hair clippings would too often stick to it.

Don had old magazines. And it seems I remember baseball games and Paul Harvey on the radio. There was one book for kids...it was a compilation of Family Circus cartoons. Don moved downtown briefly until retirement. His old shop was razed.

About the time my hair went wacky on me, I switched to a "stylist" here in river city. I went there until just a few years ago when she hung it up. I had never had anyone else cut my hair so trying to find someone to take over was difficult. I tried two different barbers. I think they didn't know what to do, and the one guy gave me a pompadour after implying I was Italian.

So my wife just cuts my hair now. It's good enough and free. I cut my son's hair once but his mother didn't like the Amish bowl cut. Maybe I should take him to the barber. It seems like a rite of passage for a boy. Maybe leave him there while I run errands. Knowing my son, he would be talking up a storm about the NFL or possibly the best routes to take on vacation.

Small town barber shops are another bit of Americana that just keeps hanging on.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow does you son look like you! Get that boy down to our local two chair barbershop on the main drag! He can read car and hunting magazines, have an 8oz coke from a glass bottle, bond with the guys and get a sucker if he is good there too! You can still have the wife cut your hair but cut the apron strings and get that boy started on some great barber shop memories!!!

jimgrey said...

As a kid I used to go to this little barber shop on Miami St. in South Bend. I figured the day they used the brilliantine on me, I'd be a man. But then I went to college and started to let my hair grow out. And that began the never-ending quest for the right stylist, the one who can get the look just right every time -- and I go monthly to keep this mess maintained.

I did get the brilliantine once, when I got frustrated with it all and showed up at a random barber shop for a flat top. I looked dorky in the flat top, so that was the end of my brilliantine adventures, and I let it all grow out again.

vanilla said...

Dad cut my hair until I was well into high school. (Snip, snip, smack! "Sit still." Snip, snip, snip, box! "Ow, my ear.") One day he told me, "It's time for you to find a barber, you're making plenty of money. You can afford it."

But lucky me. My wife is a retired stylist and the best with scissors I've ever had clip around my head.

hoosier reborn said...

Anon,
It wasn't until I took a good look at that picture and realized he does look like me, well, did. Maybe I'll do the barber thing, but I think the one by the fast red trucks would be better.

Jim,
Miami Street in South Bend is such a great old neighborhood commercial enclave..seems like it's been struggling back.

Vanilla,
What you described is exactly what was happening between the boy and his mother, which is why she no longer cuts his hair...or his ear...which is why I am perfectly still for her.

Anonymous said...

well I am not sure how bright the bulb is in the shop by the big red trucks, but its your choice! I can picture him coming home with butch wax in his hair and a Cub "C" carved into the back of his head?

Troy said...

I've always been kind of jealous of boys whose dads took them to the barber's when they were kids. I think I'd like it but it just seems like kind of a jump to go from a stylist to barber.