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A hedge cut from the barber

Tony was my first barber. I not sure how old he was when I started going to him, but, retrospectively, I cheap jerseys say that he was probably about 112.

Tony had shaky hands and wore glasses that looked like the lenses of the Hubble. Why, you might ask, did my parents subject me to this hair surgeon? It was simple. Have you ever heard of the expression, and a haircut, two bits? Tony haircuts were only six bits decades after that saying originated, and that was cheap. As a kid, bad haircuts were no big deal. He would periodically leave what appeared to be holes in my hair that looked like the mange; not a pretty sight.

When the photo albums are pulled from their dusty hiding places, my haircuts as a seven year old looked like boot camp with Bonzo. Don get me wrong, Tony was a nice old man. He was always polite, rather formal, and did all of the requisite barber things like put really smelly cologne on your neck when he was done shaving you. Oh, did I mention that? Yes, he shaved your neck and sideburns with a straight razor.

He would stand beside you and sharpen that razor with a barber strap until he could cut a hair in half with a sweeping motion that would have humbled Zorro. Then he lather you up with a brush and shaving cream from a coffee cup looking holder, and shave you like Sweeny Todd.

In the winter my hair was appropriately styled like a little man, and in the summer, Dad would take my brother and me out into the garden in June, turn on the clippers, and cut us almost bald. He said that he did that work in the garden because the hair would scare rabbits away, but I don think he wanted to have to sweep it off the porch or kitchen floor.

It was kind of funny because the $2 electric clippers that he used were connected to a big black extension cord that ran the whole way to the wash house, 150 feet or so away.

As puberty hit so did my pride and ego, and I remember the day that I got enough nerve to ask my dad if I could go to a city barber. What was the difference between a city barber and Tony? The city barber wore a starched white barber shirt with buttons along the left shoulder like the director of a diagnostic laboratory.

The shop was spotless, his work was impeccable, and he charged 10 bits, that right $1.25? Remember, 50 cents would buy you at least 2 1/2 gallons of gasoline; this was not chump change.

The city barber that I selected was a guy named Ross, Ross Prestia. He was a class act. You would go to his immaculately clean barbershop and wait in comfortable chairs while he meticulously trimmed one man after another.

Ross work was always completed with aplomb, dignity, and pride. He was a relatively serious man, but very nice and always polite. He was very committed to his work. Because I was paying the big bucks (money from my paper route and altar boy funeral assignments), at age 14 I decided to go for the high fashion look of the day, a flat top.

It was the military look with a pushed up, mustache waxed front and a bald spot cut out right behind it, the height of youthful fashion. When I asked him for this military cut, he hesitated at first because it was such a radical look, but I was the paying customer and he graciously and competently complied. You could tell that it was a great haircut because it looked just like the hedges in front of Ross house, perfectly straight with no dips. It was a great city cut worth every bit.

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