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Back in Time

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by , 07-27-2011 at 12:17 AM (1215 Views)
It’s Saturday morning at the Little bigspendurs house and it’s hot as blazes outside and there are no fans or air conditioners. So Pa, gets me up early and says we’re goin for a haircut. So we leave the apartment and make the trek one block down Manor Avenue and there ahead on Westchester Avenue on the right like the opening gates to heaven is the entrance to Andy’s Barber Shop. As we approach you can hear the rumble and clanging of the elevated train going by above us. There’s that moving, lite-up barber’s pole outside the door and for the life of me I can’t figure out how that thing turns in there without it unscrewing out the top and bottom. Also, it has that beautiful subtle glow of the top glass. How they do that?

The doors to the barbershop swing open and I’m immediately greeted by those old familiar smells coming from Lilac Vegetal and le Scholls hair trainer and barbercide and scented shave cream and scented talcum powder all mixed together to produce a scent you will never ever forget to the day you die.

Yes it’s 1953 and the world longs to enjoy life the American way and Ike is president and all is good with the world. My dad drives a 1948 Studebaker President in blue with big chrome bumpers. I mean this car is dripping in chrome inside and out. It’s August and it’s the dog days of summer.

So we take our seats in the shop right under the sign that proclaims, If YOU leave the shop YOU lose your turn and next to the other one saying in God we trust, all others pay cash. Did I mention the shop was Air Conditioned by one of those new fangled devices mounted over the front door? As you walked in water would drip over you. As kids we would stand there and catch the drops in our mouths and drink the stuff.

Yes, Andy and his fellow Barber Lou were masters of their trade. Not only that but Andy used to be Secretary of State and Lou used to be Secretary of defense, well, not really, but it seemed that way cause they held court in their shop and were experts on every conceivable issue. They were always up to the task of giving advice on every subject known to man from job problems, to marital problems to money issues to car problems. Yes the heaviest issues of the world were hashed out and all issues solved in that shop.

I watched Andy as he prepared Salvatore for his shave. He had a heavy date that evening. Yea first Andy wrapped this steaming hot towel around his face. I thought for sure when the towel was taken off the guys face would be burned off but no, it was still there as red as a beet. Then he unleashed a river of shave cream from the leather master machine, hey where did all that lather come from anyway? It was like magic coming out the little door like that. He rubbed it into Salvatore’s face with his hands rubbing it in good. Then he unleashed his razor from his pocket like a knight taking his broad sword from his scabbard. Why it was Excalibur. Then he manipulated his strop and proceeded to dance the razor on the strop like two expert dancers on stage. Yea it was Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Then Lou says, NEXT. Yea I approached what was to me the most wondrous thing in the world. Like a giant throne from which I could peer out and command the world. That gleaming stainless steel and porcelain chair with plush leather upholstery and with that leather booster seat on top I was king of the hill. What’s that writing on the foot rest? I don’t know it seems it says Theo A Cochise, Cleveland, Ohio. Hey ain’t he that Indian that I saw on T.V the other day fightin John Wayne?

So Lou puts this massive stripped gown on me like superman’s cape and whips out a paper neck band to affix it to my neck then he manipulates the chair like a starship commander actuating all the levers and sending me up and down and front and back and reclining. Then he removes the tools of the trade from his front shirt pocket a gleaming scissor and a black comb and begins to work his magic. Then he grabs the…gulp…no not the hair clipper…get me out of here, you ain’t gonna touch me with that thing I screamed. Why I remember some guy was being tortured with one of those and it ate into his head and mashed his brains all up leaving him like a tomato. Ok, Ok no clippers today, heck George what you do to that kid terrify him with clippers when he was being born or something? My Pa says heck I don’t know what his problem is with those things. Yea the scissors made this clacking kind of sound as they opened and closed in rhythm with the song on the old radio which as I recall was Perry Como singing something about some hot dog.

Yes after he was done he unleashed his razor and I got the shave cream applied to my side burns and the back of my neck and that instrument scraped away the hair residing there so quickly I didn’t even realize it. Then some glopy goo is applied to my hair which turned it into instant straw. If there had been a 100 MPH wind outside a hair wouldn’t have been messed one bit. Then Lou gets the mirror and walks all around to make sure I approved of his handiwork. Then he gets that silver canister and pours the Talcum powder out on his horsehair brush and I’m engulfed in a huge cloud of powder choking me and blinding me as he tore the paper off my neck and brushed the loose hairs off me and took me down off the chair and said your all finished, NEXT.

Yea as we walked towards the door Andy was standing by the cash register and cranked it up. “That’ll be 35 cents gents”. As pa paid I ran back to Lou and gave him a most generous 10 cent tip. Then it was a trip to the huge glass jar and I could pick out any flavor lollipop I wanted.

So it was out the door and back to the real world. The rumbling train over head, the heat and humidity of the city and Mike the cop walking his beat down the block. “Hey kid, nice haircut you got there”. A quick trip to the candy store with the usual suspects hanging out outside all up to no good as my Pa would say. Inside Mr Seagals Store we went as my pa bought a cigar and a newspaper and I got a 3 muskeeters bar which cost 5 cents and was so big you could cut it in three and still have plenty for yourself. I mean that’s why it was called that so you could share it with two friends and you’d be the three musketeers. Then we trudged back to that hot apartment with my mom complaining of being cooped up in that apartment all week she wanted Pa to take her out shopping. She wanted one of those new fans they were selling to give some relief from that heat and humidity.
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