A couple of days ago I walked past the classic old fashioned shop that’s a few blocks from my flat.
It’s on an old building that’s been here for decades and the front part of that building is a funky, hip and loud salon with a hint of underground alternative/punk feel from the late 80s early 90s.
But there’s this little shop with just two chairs around the corner. If this was a house converted to a business, this barber shop would be a one car garage.
Every time I walk by there’s someone in the chair. Without fail. It makes me smile!
A few days ago I walked past and I caught a whiff of the talc the barber was using and I was slammed with a bunch of memories.
I had to experience the “barbershop” on my own. It wasn’t an experience I had with my father. Being that he died when I was an infant. There was no rite of passage for me.
The “passage” as it were was more like my mother would drop me off and pick my up later.
This moment when I smelled the talc took me back to being a young boy. Sitting in the shop. Uncomfortable old chairs. AM talk radio playing from a radio that still had tweed like fabric over the speaker.
The end tables were littered with reading material. Mostly Archie comics for the boys and Playboys for the dads. (They were hidden in the TIME magazines). I would say that the gentlemen that were the barbers in the shop and a good many of the clients had not been born in Canada but had immigrated from Europe. There was definitely a “feel” or a cultural “atmosphere” there that I couldn’t describe.
Maybe, looking back it would be the equivalent of the restaurant in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where everyone in the family worked and all the “community” hung out there.
I have a lot of fond memories learning about the barbershop. The art of men grooming men. The rituals. The straight razors that were sharpened with the belt, the smell of talc, bottles of hair tonic and a vacuum that was used to try and get rid of the stray hair that hung around your neck line.
It was an experience and a time that I looked forward to as a kid and longed for at times. I did some searching online with the hopes of finding some photos or perhaps Google Maps would have a couple shots. Only of the building the barber shop was in and I learned that the Duke’s Barbershop is no more.
Still to this day my experience of getting my haircut is important to me.
It’s a ritual. It’s my meditation. It’s my happy place.