Requiem for the barber shop
October 25, 2019
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Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay
Time was when every little town had a barber, and that barber was busy ten hours a day, six days a week. For 75 cents one could get a haircut and catch up on the local news and tall tales. The day of 75 cent haircuts is long gone; barbers today, if you can find one, charge 20 dollars. The conversation is still good, though. If you can find a barber.
Two days ago I went looking for a barber in my old home town. This town is actually a city of 35,000 people. It’s two and a half hours from where I now live, so I don’t get there often. I went looking for the barber that I have known for 50 years. He’s not there any more. After a little mental calculation, I realized he was in his nineties the last time he cut my hair, about a year ago. I guess it was time for him to retire.
I found out there are two barber shops left in that city, with two elderly barbers who will also probably retire soon. That will leave the young lady who cut my hair on Wednesday. At least she is young from the perspective of my 77 years: she says she has been cutting hair for 19 years. It looks like the whole future of barber shops in that city is in her hands.
Closer to home, in a city ten times the size, I have been frequenting the same barber shop for twenty years. That barber shop used to have three chairs, three barbers. Now it is down to one chair in the front corner of a hair dressing salon. He still charges barber rates, not hair salon rates.
It seems the younger generation prefers the hair salons, where they pay twice as much for a haircut that doesn’t look any different than a haircut by a barber. I guess they consider the barber shop too lowly a place.
I’m thankful that there are still a few old-time barber shops left where an old geezer can go to get his hair trimmed, as much as he has left, and have a good chat to boot.