Why pay $2.00 for a haircut at the barber shop in the Shorecrest Shopping Center, when you can do it in the garage for next to nothing? That was dad’s philosophy of hairstyling when I was a little boy. He found some electric barber clippers in the Sears Catalog and our garage was transformed into a barbershop overnight. Never mind that I have very noticeable and obtrusive cowlicks that resemble horns after a fresh haircut. But what is a 6 year old to do? I did not live in a democracy. My dad was a benevolent dictator.
If you asked me a few years ago, I would have told you that those early haircuts in the garage damaged me for life. Showing up in Miss Erick’s second grade class freshly butchered was embarrassing even for a 7 year old boy. Why couldn’t I have a dad who would take me to the barbershop like the rest of the boys in my class?
As the elementary school years rolled by, my dad must have tired of barbering. I had the privilege of joining him for haircuts at a barbershop located in the Racine Motor Inn overlooking Lake Michigan. Those Saturday runs to see the barber in my dad’s Volkswagon bug were actually pretty memorable. I enjoyed sitting among the men and hearing them talk about what Vince Lombardi was going to do with the Green Bay Packers during that particular football season.
By the time I was a teenager, my sweet Southern mother intervened in the hairstyling priorities in our family. She “allowed” me to go to a very cool hair stylist located in a shop near our home. Barry was skilled in styling men and women’s hair. He taught me to part my hair in the middle and created “wings” on the sides. (That of course was the going look in 1978.) Music from the movie Saturday Night Fever was playing on the radio, as I got my hair styled.
I have never cut my boys’ hair. I did not want to damage them for life. I must say that they have cut each other’s hair at times! But I had nothing to do with that. That was their choice to “buzz” their hair.
In reality I was not damaged for life by my dad’s choice to order clippers from the Sears Catalog. I was reminded of that again recently. One of my good friends commented to me that his dad left his family when he was 2 years old. When his dad returned during the Christmas season to see his children 3 years later, he did not recognize his then 5 year old son. My friend is in his 40’s now, but he still remembers that significant event that took place when he was 5 years old.
At 5 years old, I was getting haircuts in the garage. When Monday rolled around after such weekend butchering jobs, Miss Erick may not have recognized me, but I experienced no real mental anguish. Today I actually realize that I was fortunate enough to have a father around to cut my hair or to take me with him to the barbershop. My dad never saw the disco era Barry hairstyles. He passed away very suddenly early in March of 1978. But he was a good father who tried to be there. Not all of my friends today were that fortunate.
Hang in there dads. Don’t get discouraged. Invest in your kids. Take advantage of every opportunity. Recognize the need that your children have for your love and nurture. And by all means, take your sons to the barbershop.