The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Snippet of Life - The Barber Shop

Growing up in a small town was Americana at its best. My father was the owner of the only bicycle shop in town. That made it even better for me, I think. I don't recall anyone making a big deal out of it, my friends never mentioned it. But it was a source of pride to me as I grew a little older. When my father moved the shop from that alley garage to a regular store across the street from the elementary school, it made things simpler for me. After all, I could leave school, cross the street and my journey was ended. Mom was often there, and I'd get to eat at the luncheonette next door from time to time.

The bike shop was like a second home to me. The area became familiar to me as I explored it. The barber shop, with its red, white, and blue striped pole outside, was a few doors north. I had more than a few haircuts there. The barber's name was Joe, I think, as it seems all barbers were called then. I remember him as a shortish, slightly stout, man with dark hair and a small mustache. Probably Italian. Very friendly, always happy to see his customers and seemed to like kids. All the store owners on the block (probably in town)knew each other and were friendly.


There was a ritual to a haircut then. You sat in the chair, the barber wrapped you in that big apron and pinned a ribbon of crepe paper tight around your neck. He trimmed your hair with electric clippers and then scissors. Then he ran the shaving cream machine, which whirred behind you, and applied the warm, almost hot, shaving cream to the back of your neck and behind and in front of your ears. That was a strangely nice feeling. Then he would strop the straight razor for a bit, "thwop, thwop, thwop". The sound was so suitable to the word and the action. And then that delicious feeling of the razor's edge scraping across the skin as it took away the small hairs from your neck and around your ears. It was a sensation that I have never felt anywhere but at a barbershop. Just short of pain, just past a tickle. And then he would slap on the aftershave lotion, which stung just a little but also felt good and smelled neat. Then he'd brush you off, pull off the paper from your neck, and remove the wrap with a swirling motion, and announce, "All done!"

I would leave the shop and walk back to the bike shop, feeling all fresh and a little chilly around the ears, where Mom would "ooh" and "ahh" about how nice I looked.

14 comments:

MilesPerHour said...

Boy were you lucky. We couldn't afford to pay for haircuts so my mother took me into the basement and used an electric clippers on my lumpy head and shaved it to the scalp every few weeks.

Douglas said...

heh heh Yes, my mother tried that once. She decided she could say a few pennies by giving us our annual summer crewcut ("you'll feel much cooler, trust me"). Cut my ear, I bled like a stuck pig, and she never tried it again.

Argentum Vulgaris said...

Nope, we were lucky then too mph, we got to go to the barbers.

AV
http://netherregionoftheearthii.blogspot.com/
http://tomusarcanum.blogspot.com/

redchair said...

Very endearing memory. Have a great Thanksgiving.
Vikki

Douglas said...

Thank you, vikki, I will certainly try. I figure I will enjoy it much more than the turkey will.

The barber shop visit is a sort of man-thing, a rite of passage when you first go by yourself. You have entered the "club".

Well, it used to be. There are few traditional barber shops anymore, mostly unisex salons...

Ares said...

many guys nowadays need a good haircut, i think. their hair's even longer than mine!

okaaay, i shouldn't care, fashion sense that is. but my brother's up to it too, and it's wholly annoying. I certainly hope I'll have the time to bald him up and make myself happy.. no, all of us. except him, of course.

Michael said...

Bike shop! Awesome! I exclaim because I love cycling! I would love to have that as a second home... (although, with my strange family situation [which I haven't fully disclosed yet (perhaps that story will come this weekend!)], I technically have five homes... actual apartments/houses).

I used to go to this one barbershop and the lady who has cut my hair over a hundred times was named Lydia, I think. Nowadays, I cut my own hair.

That's bizarre, I know, but I really don't like haircuts (I've cried on several occasions) and I just want to make sure I get my own haircut right and when it goes wrong, I have no sensible reason to put the blame it on others.

Michael.

worver(?) - 'press'

Douglas said...

Ares, I proudly admit that my hair was once down to the bottom of my shoulder blades. I liked it, even though it was tied off in a pony tail most of the day since I worked with soldering irons often and the smell of burning hair is horrible. I cut it back to a "shag" style a couple of times but finally cut it to "normal" length in 1977. I miss it sometimes. But not when I wash it, oh no.

Michael, that bike shop was at a time when an "English Racer" was any three speed bicycle. The "beach cruiser" of today was the normal bike and there were no mountain bikes or motocross or exotic bikes of any kind. Biking was mundane. It is almost like the Model A vs the modern auto.

Barry said...

Yes, that brings back more than a few memories.

Although I don't think I enjoyed going to the barber as much as you. I always had to be ordered to go and then the barber would complain about how long my hair was.

But I always felt better after.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Douglas said...

Thanks, Barry, I figure as long as I am not the Turkey, I'll enjoy it.

shloke said...

Douglas,

Hi! Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a supportive comment.

I enjoy reading your Barber Shop post. The small black and white picture depicting the old days barber shop really caught my attention.

I am a Malaysian and there are lots of economic Indian barber shops. Interestingly, nearly 90% of those barber shops still practising the same routines as described in your post. Even the setting of the barber shop is exactly the same :)

cheers!
mylo

Douglas said...

Shloke, I guess there is a universality to barber shops. They do seem to be the same most everywhere you go... Except for this:
Polish Barber Shop

shloke said...

Douglas,

Hi! Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a supportive comment.

I enjoy reading your Barber Shop post. The small black and white picture depicting the old days barber shop really caught my attention.

I am a Malaysian and there are lots of economic Indian barber shops. Interestingly, nearly 90% of those barber shops still practising the same routines as described in your post. Even the setting of the barber shop is exactly the same :)

cheers!
mylo

Douglas said...

Thanks, Barry, I figure as long as I am not the Turkey, I'll enjoy it.