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
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.