Shave and A Haircut-Two bits

by Jack Keegan


My Father and Grandfather's favorite Barber shop was located on Fleming Avenue adjacent to Shalit's Drug Store. Outside was the usual Red White and Blue stripped barber pole that was illuminated and rotating when the establishment was opened for business.

Upon entering the premises your olfactory organs were overcome with odors of many hair tonics and bay rum. Three Barber chairs were lined up facing a mirror covered wall. These chairs could be raised or lowered by a lever to accommodate various customers. Also a child seat could be mounted on them for younger patrons.

The main shelf held the tools of the trade straight razors, manual hair clippers, combs, several pairs of scissors and the ubiquitous blue jars of an antiseptic solution. Towels were stored in the cupboards below, as were the capes that were used to keep the trimmed hair from your clothing. Other shelves on this partition were the resting place of shaving mugs.

Each customer usually had his very own shaving mug, their decorations went from the plain to the elaborate. Some had initials, others full names, some with coats of arms. A few had ethnic slogans such as "Up the Finnians"," Deutschland uber Alles", "Erin Go Braugh" remember this was a German and Irish domain for years.

When a customer was seated, draped with a cape the haircut began. Snip snip went the scissors, clip clip went the manual hair clippers with an occasional ouch as they pulled out hair without cutting it. After the haircut the cape was removed and shaken putting the thatch on the floor. What ever happened to all that hair?

If a shave was needed the cape was replaced and a warm towel was applied to the face. Now to the patrons shaving mug warm water was added, stirred and whalla we had shaving cream. The towel was removed and cream was brushed on the face, the straight razor was stropped on a long leather belt on the side of the chair and removal of the whiskers began. Slowly the razor slipped over the face removing those unwanted hairs. Hair and cream was removed from the razor by wiping it on a towel and the shave continued. When it was done bay rum was splashed on the face to refresh it. Now that it's finished, Beau Brumell is off to meet his fair lady.



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