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Memories of barbershops when growing up.

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Memories of barbershops when growing up.

Postby jar » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:07 am

I grew up in Baltimore during the post war period; when burlesque still reigned and Baltimore was a collection of ethnic neighborhoods. There was Little Italy and Germantown (but they were all Austrians) and the Polish neighborhood off Pulaski and the Valley was Horse Country and Pimlico was all Jewish (I grew up there and thought the lions really ate all the other Christians since I was the only one left) and there was Chinatown where all the Japanese were Chinese and Downtown Mount Vernon Place that was hotels and statues and the Peabody Conservatory and Enoch Pratt Library and one of my favorite places in the world, The Walter's Art Gallery.

Each neighborhood smelled strange and the folk looked strange and the food was exotic and everyone knew that THEIR neighborhood was the best but the others certainly were wonderful to visit.

Each neighborhood had their own barbers and their own barbershop smells. In Little Italy it was the smell of Mint and Eucalyptus, in Germantown it was fresh tobacco, in Pimlico it was rose water and lavender and in the hotels around Mount Vernon Place it was polished wood and lime and Talcum Powder and in Hunt Valley it was leather and freshly mowed green grass and in Chinatown it was sandalwood and incense.

But it was the barbershops down near the docks, the ones where the merchant seamen frequented, where the stevedores cleaned up for the weekend, where the folks that had been unloading bananas (we used to stand at the dock and sometimes they would show us the critters that hitched a ride in the green bananas; big hairy spiders and snakes of all colors and sometimes even a monkey) or spices and tea for McCormick & Company could be found where you could find the most amazing smells, amber and jasmine and lotus blossom all mixed with the scent of whatever was being processed that day at McCormick; cinnamon or clove or pepper or nutmeg or thyme or basil or lemon grass.

For a young boy out exploring and free from the family insurance office Baltimore was an ever changing education.
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Re: Memories of barbershops when growing up.

Postby brothers » Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:03 pm

jar, thank you for this most enjoyable post!
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Re: Memories of barbershops when growing up.

Postby CMur12 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:15 pm

Great post, indeed! And a great place to grow up and learn (as, thankfully, you were inclined to do!).

I grew up in the post-war suburbs, which had none of this diversity.

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Re: Memories of barbershops when growing up.

Postby fallingwickets » Wed Oct 04, 2017 3:37 am

my grandfather owned a barbershop and i 'worked' there on saturday mornings. Unfortunately i was way more interested in the food and milkshakes at the cafe around the corner than i was about the goings on in the store and so I have no competing stories for jar's superb post

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Re: Memories of barbershops when growing up.

Postby Barry » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:34 am

I'm in my mid-40's and remember a barbershop at a little strip mall near my childhood neighborhood. The owner's name was Ray... I googled around a bit and he still seems to own the shop. I remember going there in the mid-to-late 1970s.

I don't remember too many details though. I do remember the strops hanging from the barber chair. And he had a leather "booster" seat of sorts for kids. I also remember that he had a vacuum with a long hose and would vacuum your neck and shirt after a haircut instead of blowing the hairs around with a hair dryer.

As a 5-6 year old kid I'd always imagined the vacuumed up hair clippings going to a giant vacuum container in the back room.... only to be carried out in giant garbage bags at the end of the week. I'm laughing just thinking about it.
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Re: Memories of barbershops when growing up.

Postby brothers » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:50 pm

Barry wrote:I'm in my mid-40's and remember a barbershop at a little strip mall near my childhood neighborhood. The owner's name was Ray... I googled around a bit and he still seems to own the shop. I remember going there in the mid-to-late 1970s.

I don't remember too many details though. I do remember the strops hanging from the barber chair. And he had a leather "booster" seat of sorts for kids. I also remember that he had a vacuum with a long hose and would vacuum your neck and shirt after a haircut instead of blowing the hairs around with a hair dryer.

As a 5-6 year old kid I'd always imagined the vacuumed up hair clippings going to a giant vacuum container in the back room.... only to be carried out in giant garbage bags at the end of the week. I'm laughing just thinking about it.


So, was that not the case? Was it just a regular sized vacuum cleaner under the counter?
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Re: Memories of barbershops when growing up.

Postby Barry » Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:38 am

brothers wrote:
Barry wrote:I'm in my mid-40's and remember a barbershop at a little strip mall near my childhood neighborhood. The owner's name was Ray... I googled around a bit and he still seems to own the shop. I remember going there in the mid-to-late 1970s.

I don't remember too many details though. I do remember the strops hanging from the barber chair. And he had a leather "booster" seat of sorts for kids. I also remember that he had a vacuum with a long hose and would vacuum your neck and shirt after a haircut instead of blowing the hairs around with a hair dryer.

As a 5-6 year old kid I'd always imagined the vacuumed up hair clippings going to a giant vacuum container in the back room.... only to be carried out in giant garbage bags at the end of the week. I'm laughing just thinking about it.


So, was that not the case? Was it just a regular sized vacuum cleaner under the counter?


Forgot to respond. I think there was an old 1960's vacuum on the floor. If I recall correctly he was able to pull the hose down from the ceiling.

We moved and the second barbershop I went to was pretty big - it had maybe 10-12 barbers all clipping away at the same time. And then there were some that rotated in and out on different days. I went there back in the early 1980s. I have a high school classmate who takes his son there now.

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Re: Memories of barbershops when growing up.

Postby Bobwhite » Sun Oct 29, 2017 6:32 pm

I was 6 years old in 1966. My brothers took me to the barbershop in Ashtabula Ohio. I was one of the youngest of 7 kids, so I didn't get out in public much at all. There were around four barbers working at the same time. One of them was Black! I may have seen a Black person on the black and white TV before, but never in person. Not at school, and not at church. I was amazed! I probably stared at him the entire time I was there. He must have noticed, because he finished up the man ahead of me and invited me to his chair. I was horrified! I grabbed my brother and begged him to not make me go! The barber simply laughed and invited the next person to his chair. There was absolutely zero racial prejudice involved, he just looked way different than me.
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