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The Cowboy Hat, the Long Hair, the Stories, the Unique & the Old

MA - Tony's Famous Barber Shop, Photo, Springfield

Impact of Long Hair

Sam Mature, a Chicago barber, shared these insights with Studs Terkel: "I know about nine barbers went out of business in this area alone. A man used to get a haircut every couple weeks.  Now he waits a month or two, some of 'em even longer than that.  We used to have customers that'd come in every Friday.  Once a week, haircut, trim, everything.  Now the same fella would come in maybe every two months.  That's the way it goes.  We used to have five chairs here.  Now there's only three of us. . . . It's all on account of long hair.  You take the old-timers, they wanted to look neat, to be presentable, and they had to make a good appearance in their office.  Now people don't seem to care too much" (Terkel, pgs. 233-234).

Christian R. Jones wrote, "Another downturn for barbers could not possibly have been anticipated, although its effect was swift and lasting. The British musical group The Beatles became popular in the mid-1960's wearing their now-famous, mop-top haircuts. Like no other time in modern history, a new men's hairstyle was completely embraced by the general public. Young men worldwide grew their hair long and barbers became little more than a memory to that generation. Long hair, in many variations, remained popular for the next 25 years and can be seen on some men today. The number of registered barbers continued to decrease during the long-hair craze" (Jones, pg 16).

Different Yet Memorable

Quirky yet affable barbers create memories: "Barbers make the barbershops. Like barbecue joints they don't do well as franchises. Folks want idiosyncrasy in a barbershop and a barbecue joint. So no two barbershops are alike because no two barbers are alike. ... Ask ten men to name the barber who gave them their first haircut. Then ask the same ten men to name their childhood doctor. I'll bet you more can name the barber than the doctor" (Staten).

IN - Marty's Barber Shop, Photo, Kentland

Called the Shop

A nephew, Danny Harris, went to dental school in Louisville, Kentucky. During one Christmas vacation, he and his lovely wife Heather came to Utah and attended an extended family Christmas party. Heather told me that Danny loved going to this certain barbershop in the Louisville area. She told me all about this small, traditional barbershop with a father and son barber team. Danny loved the quality and quantity of the local banter. I found Danny in the other room. I told him I was impressed with his haircut and said, "Let me guess, Farris Barber Shop on New La Grange Road in Lyndon, just outside of Louisville!" I then told him about what I knew of the shop. He was shocked that I would know barbers well enough across the country that I could "call the shot" like playing "8 ball" in a pool game. He then found his wife and was so excited to tell her that Uncle Keith just looked at his hair and "called" the right barber shop. She informed him that she had already told me all about the shop. This was a funny yet tender moment to think someone thought I could actually pull off such a feat. He was very trusting in my abilities and knowledge.

OR - Barber Shop: His Cuts, Photo, Burns

Only Two Lessons Learned

In summer 2005, I traveled with one of my daughters to Chubbuck, Idaho (near Pocatello), for a haircut. It was a warm Friday afternoon and Lynn's Barber Shop was full of waiting patrons. Lynn, the barber, told me it could be a long wait but I told him it wasn't a problem for me. The one barber, two-barberchair shop had probably ten to twelve chairs for the customers. With over half of the chairs full, there were both young and old patiently waiting their turn. When he was almost finished with an older gentleman in the barber chair, Lynn spun him around and asked, "How does it look?" One of the other patrons chimed in by saying, "Isn't that like a barber, to ask if the haircut is acceptable before giving the man his glasses back!" Straight faced and without a missing beat, Lynn responded, "I only learned two things in barber school. First, never say 'oops' out loud and second, never give the customer his glasses back until you get his money."

UT - Blaine's Barber Shop, Photo, Pleasant View

An Old Friend

"The kinship of blood is forever, but it is not a choice; marriage is a choice, but it is held together by laws and kids and habits; but friendship 'heart-to-heart and man-to-man friendship' is stronger than blood and longer than love.  I would rather have an old friend than an old brother or an old wife" (Fulghum, pg. 133). [So says a Greek barber quoted in this book].

A quote attributed to Orlson Sweet Marden states, "Friendship is like the seed put into the soil - the more one sows, the greater the harvest."

E. R. Hazlip said, "Friendship is a horizon - which expands whenever we approach it." I love the concept of friendship and although I am most often just passing through town when I get a haircut, I generally leave with at least one friend, the local barber.

Sources Cited:

  1. Doig, Ivan. Heart Earth. New York: Simon & Schuster, pg. 123, 1993. 
  2. Mature, Sam. Chicago barber quoted in Working. Studs Terkel, New York: The New Press, pg. 233-234, 1974.
  3. Jones, Christian R. Barber Shop History & Antiques. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., pg. 16, 1998.
  4. Staten, Vince. Do Bald Men Get Half-Price Haircuts? In Search of America’s Great Barber Shops, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.
  5. Fulghum, Robert. Words I Wish I Wrote. New York: HarperCollins, pg. 133, 1997.  
  6. Hazlip, E.R. Internet resource - Quoteland.com.