It’s rare that I hear the word barber anymore. It seems to have gone the way of stewardess or waitress. Stewardesses became flight attendants and waitresses were renamed servers for whatever reason?
I prefer barber over that of hair stylist. I’d never tell friends that I was going to the salon and have my hair styled. Sissy comes to mind here. For many years I went to a barbershop and still would if I had enough on top.
That remaining hair is now cut by my own hands, using two mirrors and rechargeable clippers. In a way, I’ve become an unlicensed barber of sorts. If I were applying for a job, I’d put that on my resume along with motor-doctor and chef.
Early on, I had several barbers. A friend’s dad in Selma, Alabama named John Dennis cut my curly locks a few times. “Jimmy the Barber” in Vernon, Alabama did the same. For the most part, with Dad being military, my brother and I visited the local base barbershops. That could be a frightful experience.
Generally, a base barbershop had at least eight barbers lined up each Saturday morning. After walking in, I immediately took a number from a stack hanging on the wall. It’d take an hour or longer to get called, because there were always oodles of people ahead of me.
The waiting room reeked of cigarette smoke, Old Spice cologne, and talcum powder. I believe military barbers used talcum powder back then to soothe cuts and nicks. It was guaranteed that I’d end up with several each trip.
One barber in particular had clippers so dull that they randomly pulled hair instead of cutting. I remember this like it happened yesterday. The man apologized, saying that he needed a new set of blades. After that harrowing and bloody experience, I cringed each time I went in, praying that I wouldn’t get him again.
What I can still visualize regarding military barber shops was the amount of hair lying on a linoleum floor. Barbers took turns with a broom sweeping it into a huge pile. I’m talking large garbage bags full of the material. A friend of ours, Randy Coggins, claimed companies used hair to stuff pillows and mattresses. For years I believed him.
Flattops were popular during my era. My brother and I wore this style, using plenty of crew wax to keep them standing tall. Mom had to constantly wash our pillow slips because of the grease.
Mohawk haircuts were the rage for some guys. Only cool or vision impaired parents allowed their boys to have them. Some 101st Airborne soldiers during WWII sported Mohawk’s to try and intimidate the enemy.
When my brother came home one Saturday morning sporting a Mohawk, he was ordered to go back and have the stripe removed. Mom was especially mad because they charged him for another haircut. I believe that was seventy-five cents back then plus tip.
I noticed that we have at least six barbershops in Lake Havasu City. Good for them! There’s nothing more American than seeing a red, white, and blue barber pole hanging outside a building. I’ve always been mesmerized by the revolving colors.
Last week, I gave myself a haircut and was interrupted by a phone call before finishing. Late that evening my wife mentioned that I’d missed a section. Looking in the mirror it was precisely in the middle of my head. Mohawk came to mind.
I left it that way for a couple of days as an act of rebellion. Sadly, Joleen didn’t notice, or if she did, nothing was said. When I finally whacked it off, perhaps a teaspoon of gray hit our sink. I watched as water washed it down the drain.
Sooner or later a giant hairball will appear and Drano will be needed. It always happens at the most inconvenient time, like when we’re out of Drano.
I’ve used a homemade snake made out of a piece of wire on more than one occasion to remove this crud. I suppose that makes me a plumber. That’ll go on my resume as well!