I looked at my smiling self in the mirror the other day and thought, “I need a haircut!”
These days that means stopping by Bob’s place where’s there a lone barber (Bob) and a row of black vinyl chairs lining the wall where the customers sit and wait.
There’s also a dark, shiny mark on the wall behind each chair where customer’s heads make contact with the faux-wood paneling.
Bob will cut you hair and talk to you while looking at the mirrors which line the shop.
Most times the talks centers on local sports, news and weather plus the vehicles the customers drive.
I’ve been going to Bob’s since I came to Indiana in 1994.
I was looking for a somewhat “old-fashioned” barber shop, one with those black and chrome chairs, perhaps some bottles of that green, “good-smelling guy-stuff” and lots of magazines.
When I first began my search, I looked for the familiar revolving red, white and blue vertical tubes and found one outside Bob’s business.
The barber pole reflects the long history of barbering and the dual arts of cutting hair and shaving faces.
Barber’s razors dating back to the Bronze Age have been recovered and a barber’s razor or the act of barbering is even mentioned in 11 books of he Bible.
The striped poles are the legacy of the blood-letting days and bandages used.
Others believe the colors refer to “arterial blood” (red), “venous blood” (blue) and the bandages (white).
Early physicians thought some surgeries were “beneath them” so the tasks of mending wounds, extracting teeth and blood-letting fell to “barbers surgeons”.
A Paris college, wanting to further distinguish between “academic surgeons” and “barber surgeons, referred to barbers as “surgeons of the short robe”.
Barber comes from the Latin word “barba” which means “beard” and the root word for “barbarians”.
Guys who cut hairs are usually referred to as “barbers” but the gals are often called “hairdressers, hairstylists” or simply “stylists”.
Before coming to Indiana I let Juanita do my hair and she was the same person who cared for my wife’s tresses
That’s when I was introduced to mousse and other hair-styling spritzes.
But, I missed the razor cut trim along the neckline and ears that was pretty much standard for barbers and went back.
As a kid, many times my Dad cut my hair and since I had a “butch”, “flattop” or a “crew cut”, it wasn’t terribly challenging for him.
Some where in the family photo albums, there’s a photo of my Dad cutting my cousin “Buster’s” hair while his Dad (Uncle Gene) steadied him. Buster was pretty much balling his eyes out. I guess as kids it’s the strange sound of the clippers and a towel tied tightly around our necks that is somewhat unsettling.
I think my Mom tried to trim my sister’s bangs and they kept getting higher and higher as she tried to make them straight.
Dad also dropped me off at Frank’s on Auburn Street in Mansfield, OH, one of those little brick places with big plate glass windows in front.
I think I also bought by first car from Frank, a 1958 Chevy.
Gene cut my hair for a time and he also sponsored our youth baseball team, cleverly-called “Gene’s Crew Cuts”. We had white t-shirts with dark green block lettering.
“Butch wax” was something you could always find in the bathroom medicine cabinet and it had a unique yet pleasant aroma.
Dad also used “Brycreem “because as we all knew, “A little dab’ll do ya’!”
There was a little barber shop in East Mansfield I used to drop in on for a cut but in my high school days, the hair was a little longer and the visits weren’t as frequent.
Although in my junior high days, the “Princeton” was the rage and that’s when guys kept it short on the sides but we let the bangs grow out and combed them forward.
There’s an old black and white photo somewhere with “The Vibrations”, all decked out in our short-sleeved white shirts with black turtle-necked dickies and I’m sporting a natty Princeton doo. We were too cool for the room.
Air Force basic training barbers were more like sheep-shearers and I still chuckle the surfer-dude recruits crying as their long locks were buzzed away.
There have even been times when my wife cut my hair, as well as her Mom’s and Grandma Shearer’s and Neav said we all got the same cut. Coulda fooled me!
Most days, now though, I’ll pop by Bob’s, read the paper, shoot some bull, and when it’s my turn, I’ll tell him, “Make it high and tight!”
Not quite up to military specs but when the wind blows, my hair ain’t movin’.