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Thread: How Straight Razors Explain What Really Happened

  1. #1
    Member Thirdman47's Avatar
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    Default How Straight Razors Explain What Really Happened

    Ever notice how pictures of men from the 19th century show so many with hirsute visages? I think they were just terrible at shaving for some reason and grew their beards to hide their mistakes.

    That got me to thinking how simple straight razor accidents have occurred in the past and were used by the shaver to make his reputation.

    Here's case in point number one:

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    Everybody knows that Al Capone's ephithet was Scarface. But how did he really get his scars? He probably just got distracted while shaving when he was living in Brooklyn. Then he decided that he'd use it as a badge of honor to show how tough he was, how he won that fight, and you-shoulda-seen-the-udda-guy. But everyone in his hometown knew what happened, so he decided to move to Chicago where nobody, including Johnny Torrio, knew how bad he was at straight shaving.

    Case in point no. 2:

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    Oh sure, right, he cut his ear off for the sake of his art, or to send to his amour, whoever that was. More than likely he was going against the grain with his straight, trying for that BBS feel when...whoops! "What's my ear doing on the floor?" Once the deed was done, though, why not capitalize on it and cement his reputation as an artist? The public relations potential was almost infinite. Too bad they didn't have twitter and the internet back then.

    Then there's always the case of a husband showing his wife the new razor he just got in the mail, with untoward results. That's what really happened with Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn:

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    All he really wanted to do was help her take some peachfuzz off the back of her neck. "Sorry, hon. Well, after all, I am a newbie."

    Maybe fellow SR8 enthusiasts can identify other instances of historic personages who had unfortunate encounters with straight razors. I look forward to the submissions!!!

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    Senior Member blabbermouth Chevhead's Avatar
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    I Think You Might Be On To Something.... Lol

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    Senior Member crouton976's Avatar
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    Case in point #3: The Headless Horseman

    Most folks believe that Washington Irving wrote a fictitious story entitled "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" about a Hessian (read:mercenary hired by the British) during the American Revolutionary War. The story takes place near Tarry Town, in Sleepy Hollow. According to the story, the Hessian was killed in battle when a cannonball shot by the Americans decapitated him. He was buried outside a local church, and that was that.

    Years later, after the war had ended, the local legend was that the headless ghost would rise from it's grave seeking victims to join him in the darkness. The legend in turn was used by the antagonist of the story, Abraham "Brom Bones" Von Brunt, to terrorize the protagonist, Ichabod Crane. The story ends with Ichabod disappearing, whether at the hands of the horseman or the hands of Brom Bones is left for the reader to decide.

    Most believe that Irving wrote the story whilst traveling through Europe and hearing German, Irish and Scottish folklore about a headless rider who would terrorize any late night wanderers.

    The REAL inspiration, however, was once, when traveling through the American Northeast, Mr. Irving happened to stop in the historically real town of Tarrytown, New York (the town has since changed their name to Sleepy Hollow). 'Twas there, while in need of a shave and a haircut he happened upon a barber who was getting older in years and tended to ramble as he went about his work. In the midst of his ramblings, particularly excited by having a different head of hair to cut and different face to shave than the townsfolk who came in week after week, the old barber began to tell the tale of his deceased son.

    The barber's son had, in fact, been in the war, but fought for the Americans. After the war, though, he became an apprentice in his father's shop, learning the noble skill of barbering. While the lad had enthusiasm, took direction well and was as smart as they come, he was unfortunately terribly clumsy. To hear the barber tell the tale, and some of the menfolk who where there witnessing the events as they happened that fateful day, the local leather tanner had come in for a shave and a trim, and, in the interest of time since they had several customers at once that day, the old barber cut the tanner's hair first, and then had his apprentice son do the shave.

    Sadly, the tanner's face was a bit more than BBS that day.

    As the eager apprentice let the hot towel warm the tanner's face, he picked up the straight razor and began to walk towards the strop they had hanging in the middle of the shop against the wall. He neglected to notice that his father hadn't swept up the trimmings from the tanner's head, and consequently slipped on them, causing him to lose his balance and stagger. Luckily, he caught himself on the edge of the chair the tanner was sitting in. But, as fate would have it, the chair toppled and spun at the same time, bringing the tanner face to face with the clumsy apprentice, and, with the blade of the razor opened, the tanner's face was sliced from ear lobe to chin.

    Luckily, the town doctor was there at the time waiting for his own shave and trim, so he was able to treat the tanner immediately. There was a lot of cursing, blood, screaming and threats of bodily harm made that day, though everyone wound up being okay in the end. The tanner forgave the apprentice eventually (though the old barber had a hand in that by offering to give a free haircut and shave to the tanner every time he came in), and the apprentice apologized profusely every time he was around the tanner.

    "But, wait!" you're saying... "Didn't you say the apprentice was dead?"

    He did die, but roughly a year or so later. Apparently, while attempting to mount a new horse, the horse tried to bite the apprentice. The apprentice staggered backward and tripped over a root in the ground, with his head landing on an old stump. His brother -in-law, who was chopping wood on that very same stump was mid swing when the apprentice fell, and alas, that was the end of the apprentice.

    Mr. Irving thought that the whole story was quite boorish, though there were some details that he could use. He took some creative liberty with them and wrote the piece of American Lore we have today.

    Some folks do say, though, that every once in a while, you can sometimes see the ghost of the old apprentice inside the building that was once his father's barber shop. He's usually stropping a razor or sweeping the floor, and isn't in any way clumsy anymore. They say his spirit won't rest until his father sees how he has over come his clumsiness, and he's allowed to give one more shave before passing on from this world to the next.

    Anyone here close to Sleepy Hollow and feel like helping an "old soul" out?
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    "Willpower and Dedication are good words," Roland remarked, "There's a bad one, though, that means the same thing. That one is Obsession." -Roland Deschain of Gilead

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    Senior Member Steelystan's Avatar
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    In the Hollywood movie Lawless the true story of the Bondurant brothers was told in an exciting and interesting way.
    The setting was in Franklin County Virginia in the depression era where bootlegging was a way of life for a majority of the residents.
    The three brothers; Howard, Forrest and Jack were well known as capable and fearless at their trade. Forrest in particular had reached the reputation of near immortality by cheating death on numerous occasions.
    Most notable was the time when late one night he was jumped by two disgruntled customers from out of town where they proceeded to cut his throat from ear to ear. It was thought that he then walked 10 miles in winter to the nearest hospital to recover from his massive wound. Only later was it revealed that his barmaid/waitress from their geneal store/diner drove him the 10 miles. Still, a remarkable recovery followed.
    After watching the movie and doing some further reading on the subject I am very suspicious that there may have been a hot lather shave, straight razor and a quart of moonshine involved in this particular incident....none the less, an amazing character with a great deal of grit.

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