I went to get my hair cut the other day, something I do a few times a year whether I need it or not. The now-unisex business dated back to 1958, so while waiting my turn I fell into a reverie about my earliest memories of getting my hair cut in a “no-girls allowed” kind of traditional barber shop.
A Brief History of Hair
Men went to barbers and women went to hair salons.
Dad, Gerry and I went to Vince’s. Who knows where
Mom took Linda? Foil and curlers and dryers, fruity
stinks mixed with harsh chemicals — no place for boys.
At Vince’s it was bay rum and Vitalis, buzz cut or flat top.
The men waiting for the chair talked business and sports
and sometimes politics (if it was fall.) Boys swung legs
back and forth, a couple inches shy of the hair-dusted tile.
Old men from the Albion Hotel came by twice a week
for a straight razor shave. You never saw them without
suit and tie, hat, shined shoes. Men, regardless
of circumstance, held themselves to certain standards.
Vince’s hair was black as night and would stay that way
until they put him in the ground. Grecian Formula 16
was sold from under the counter in discrete paper bags.
But then the ‘60s came, spoiling pretty much everything.
Men wanted hair like JFK, women wanted to be Jackie.
And then, dear God, the four mop tops. Boys wanted to be
Prince Valiant; girls ironed waist-length hair flat as Kansas.
Everything went all unisex once Vince closed his doors.
Note: unpublished draft