Post date: Monday, May 10, 2004
We, my brother Stan who was twelve at the time, and me, Amy I was eleven then, were walking home from the ballpark one Thursday afternoon. The sun was slowly setting behind the tall trees which lined the Canton Avenue, the main street in the little town we lived in as children.
We had been playing baseball with some of our friends when it got too hot to continue in that open field.
So, we called it a day and went home with the game still unsettled.
“Come quickly,” we heard someone call from the small crowd in front of the barber shop’s big window.
“Hurry up are you’re going to miss it all,” the voice called out.
The voice was not that of an adult, nor a teenager, rather of a young girl who looked to be around nine or ten years of age. Everyone who was in ear shot of her came running as if something had happened to someone in the barber shop.
“Should we call the police,” a young boy, of about ten, asked as he turned to face those gathering to the young girl’s call.
“Don’t be silly,” the young girl replied. “She’s doing it herself!”
We worked our way up to the window, of this one chair barber shop, only to see a man sitting in the chair getting his hair cut by Ol’ Mr. Meyer.
My brother looked at me, as I did to him, wondering what all the fuss was about.
“I don’t see anything strange,” a woman, about twenty-eight, said as she peeked into the window over my brother.
“Wait,” the young girl told her and the others around.
“See that woman sitting in the little chair,” she said point into the shop at the waiting chairs which lined the wall below the large mirror.
“She told Miss Townson, over at the beauty salon, she was going to have to get her head shaved because she messed up her perm the other day.
She was pretty mad when she left the beauty shop, too”.
“NO WAY,” another lady said. “You must have misunderstood what was said.”
The lady turned to walk out the crowd, when …..
“LOOK,” the young girl called out. “She’s getting into Mr. Meyer’s chair.”
The lady stopped and turned around.
She stuck her face close to the window for a better look, “My God, she is sitting in the barber chair.”
“That’s not unusual,” a man’s voice said. “I know a few women who get their hair cut by Mr. Meyer.
“My wife is one of them.
“Besides the cost is a lot cheaper at a barber shop then at a beauty shop.”
Everyone watched as Mr. Meyer put the cape on the woman and he pumped up the chair a little, he was a tall man of six feet six inches.
He picked up a large tooth comb and begin combing her hair out from the center of her head.
The woman just sat there with her legs crossed as if nothing unusual was happening.
Everyone started to wonder if the little girl did misunderstood what she heard at Miss Townson’s beauty shop.
As Mr. Meyer turned, with his right hand behind him, from the shelf he saw the crowd outside his shop.
He tapped the lady on the shoulder and she turned her head towards us and begin laughing.
He looked at us, as she did too, then she shook her head “yes’.
Mr. Meyer’s turned the chair towards the window and the crowd looking in to the barber shop.
“GOD, he’s got the big clippers,” another man said loudly.
Everyone begin to push towards the window for a better look.
He raised his left hand up and combed her hair back off her face.
Then, he placed the large comb in a section of her hair, in front of her right ear, his right hand rose with the big black clippers and he moved the clippers over the comb.
About six inches of curly permed dark brown hair fell behind her right shoulder and slowly fell to the floor.
He combed anther section of hair and repeated the clipping.
Slowly he worked his way, combing a section and moving the clippers over the comb slowly, until he had reached the back of her head.
Then, he walked in front of the chair, between us and them, to the left side, there he begin doing the same thing.
Combing a section of hair then moving the clippers over the comb sending hair to the cape of the floor.
What was left behind was short hair, for a woman at the time and a little longer than the crewcut boys and men were getting at the time.
Still her hair had a tight curl to it, making her hair look like it was a lot shorter.
He tilted her head downward, as he stood behind the chair and continued combing a section of hair moving the clippers over it.
Slowly he worked his way up the back of her head and over the top until all her hair was one equal length all over her head.
When he was finished he put the comb and clippers on the shelf and picked up a large flat hair brush.
He turned on the hot water, letting the water get really hot water, as he moved it back and forth under the hot water wetting the hair brush.
Then, he begin brushing the lady’s hair with it, trying to brush out the tight perm a little.
After a few minutes of brushing her head, he was able to comb out some of the tightness.
He reached to the shelf and picked up a comb and small clippers.
He combed her hair back and begin clippering her hair along the hair line, first the right side then the left side and finally across the back of her neck.
When he was finished she waived to everyone and she stuck her arms outward to the sides from under the cape and begin laughing.
They begin talking, and laughing, as Mr. Meyer removed the clip holding the cape around her neck.
Still laughing, she, again, shook her head “yes”.
He patted her on the right shoulder.
He removed the cape and shook it out and tucked it on the railing behind the back of the chair.
The lady just sat there and looked at everyone outside, looking in.
Mr. Meyer then tucked a large white towel in her blouse and spread it over her shoulders.
“My God,” the women who was standing over me said. “She’s is getting her head shaved.
“Barber’s don’t put a towel in your collar unless they are going to shave you.”
A few of the onlookers turned and looked at each other, as one asking, “How do you know that?”
She did not answer so they turned back to looking in the Barber Shop’s window.
When Mr. Meyer tuned from the shelf in his left hand was a pile of shaving lather.
He smiled at us and raised his left hand for us to see what was in it.
With the fingers of his right hand he begin tabbing lather along the hair line of her hair like he did the men and boys.
With the lather applied the took a straight razor from the little glass cabinet, stropped it on the leather strap, and began shaving a trim line along her hair line.
When he was finished he dusted her face and hair line with powder, lowered the chair. She stepped from it and tried to pay Mr. Meyer.
But, he refused, pointed to the window and us.
They shook hands and she walked out the barber shop.
Everyone turned as she stepped outside.
She turned towards us, “I guess many of you haven’t seen a woman get her hair cut before.
“Or, were you expecting something else to happen!”
With that said she walked away, looking over her shoulders ever so often until she got into her car and drove off.
Mr. Meyer picked up the newspaper, turned the chair back to face the larger mirror and waiting chairs, sat in it and begin reading the newspaper.
Slowly everyone begin walking away.
One man even patted the young girl, who got the crowed to gather, on the head and told her, “Don’t be the ‘Chicken Lit’ sweetheart.”
Like I said that was years ago, almost forty-five years to be exact.
No one ever saw the woman again.
Miss Townson never married and retired about ten years later and moved to the big city to live with a niece.
Mr. Meyer passed away about twenty years later and his youngest daughter, Sue, took the barber shop over.
Over the next three years she enlarged the shop, adding three more chairs.
She changed the shop.
She found, and hired, three other women, who were licensed barbers, to work there.
So, you know her male clients grew, as did the number of women who only wanted to get their hair cut.
On the large window, as well as inside the shop, she made sure it was clear they only cut hair, with some styling, and didn’t do things which could be done at a beauty salon.
My brother and I went on to college, as did a lot of our friends.
He married, had three boys and a daughter, and opened his own business.
I, on the other hand, found a job in advertisement in New York City, married for ten years and he divorced me.
After retiring early, at the age of fifty, I decided to return home to see how things have changed.
I can tell you one thing, living in New York City is a big change for those who do not grow up there.
Things you dreamed of could be found there and there was no shortage of any thing, nor interest.
Think of it and you were sure to find it somewhere. This included the changing of hair cuts and styles for both men and women.
So, to say I did not “par-take” in things which would be incorrect and misjudging me.
Slowly I begin to find that “wildness” within me and it exploded wide after six years there.
A group of us, from where I worked, decided to have a night out with a new employee, Sharon who was from of all places North Dakota.
We thought we had things over her until we got to one of the many night clubs.
There we found out she did not have a limit when it came to drinking. For every beer we put down she put two and after two hours she was still standing and most of us had our head on, or under, a table.
The club was located on the northern part of Greenwich Village, where she lived.
So, after an hour of drinking we found our selfs walking to her apartment to spend the night.
Along the way there we found a barber shop still open, and it almost midnight.
Gail, the one who put this little “night-out” together found it unusual for a barber shop to be open this late.
But, Sharon, she found it not to be so unusual.
“In fact,” she begin saying, “I sometimes get my hair cut there, when I come home late.”
“Girl,” Mary begin to dribble. “Only men and butches get their hair cut in a barber shop.
“So, you’re not a man!”
Needless to say Sharon stopped and started to say something to her, when I spoke up, “Hell, back home as a little girl and teenage, I use to get my hair cut at one of the local barber shops.
“Hell, it drove the boys crazy.”
Mary looked at me with one of those faces then all we heard was, “Burp”.”
Sharon grabbed her before she fell face first into the mess, telling us, “Let’s go over to the barber shop and see if they will give us a towel to wipe her face off.”
No one objected and off we went.
To tell the truth, Mary, as well as a few our female co-workers, had gone to a barber shop, a few block from our office building, to get their hair cut.
Specially when the weather got hot.
Connie, one of the bosses secretary’s had even gotten a crewcut a few years back and no one made anything of it.
So, I think all that alcohol we drank had got to Mary, a little.
There was a woman barber working in the shop.
She had a young man in the chair and a woman, about forty-five and well dressed, sitting in a waiting chair.
Sharon motioned us towards the barber shop, “Let’s see if we can use Gayle’s dressing room for a few minutes!”
We followed her, holding Mary up and almost dragging her.
“Hi Gayle,” Sharon called as we entered the shop and motioning as if she was drinking something. “Mind if we use the restroom?”
Gayle, the barber, looked up and said, “Sure go ahead.”
As we walked pass her chair Mary begin another “Burp”.
We got her to the restroom and opened the door in time.
As Darlene and I stood there holding Mary’s face out of the toilet, Sharon handed us a warm wet towel, Gayle had given her.
“Gayle said she has some hot coffee in the back room. I’ll get us each a cup,” she mentioned.
Darlene and I had no problems with that.
But, we couldn’t speak for Mary.
After she stopped and we cleaned her face off, we carried Mary out to the shop area. We sat in the waiting chairs for Sharon to come with the coffee.
As she handed us each a cup, she asked Gayle, “Mind if we sit awhile!”
“Sure,” she replied. “Not closing for another forty-five minutes, or so.”
It took some getting Mary to drink a few sips, which she did and asked for another cup.
When Sharon returned the young man was stepping out the chair and the elderly woman was getting up.
“Must be mommie!” Mary said laughing and still a little under the influence of the beer.
Quickly I put my hand over her mouth to keep her from saying it again and out loud.
But, the young man walked passed us and out the shop, as the elder woman walked to the chair and sat in it.
Gayle caped her as she got relaxed in the chair.
She reached behind her head and pulled out hair pins which were holding her hair close to the back of her head.
When the last pin was removed her hair unfolded to the middle of her back.
Gayle picked up a hair brush and begin brushing her hair back over the top of her head.
First over the top of her head, then back along the sides.
Not a word was said by either of them, as Gayle continued brushing the woman’s hair slowly working any knots out of it.
Then, just as she had started brushing she stopped and placed the hair brush on the shelf.
We looked at Mary to see if she was falling to sleep, which she wasn’t rather she was watching what Gayle was doing.
Her eyes were fixed on her brushing the woman’s hair, how she brushed over her head then down the back to the end of her hair.
It was if she was a child who was watching this happen for the first time.
Sharon asked if anyone wanted another cup of coffee, Mary motioned she did.
Just a Sharon stood up there was a loud “CLICK” sound followed by a steady “humming”.
I looked at Mary, her eyes quickly opened wide as if she saw something.
I turned my head to the humming sound just as Gayle raised her hand up to the woman’s head.
I looked back at Mary and popped my hand over her mouth just in time to keep her from saying anything.
I turned by attention back to the barber chair just as Gayle placed the clippers at the forehead of the woman and she slowly pushed it back over her head.
Slowly her hand moved the clippers back leaving behind hair that had hardly any height to it.
You could see the whiteness of her scalp, more being revealed as the clippers moved further backwards.
“Mrs. Hanson,” Sharon said. “I didn’t notice it was you until now.
“SO, how is your husband?”
We looked at Sharon, as she handed us another cup of coffee, with disbelief.
She knew the women and all she could say was to ask about her husband.
Was she seeing what we were!
This woman was getting clippers run over her head cutting her hair off to almost nothing.
“He’s doing well,” the woman answered. “And, you!
“I have seen you around for a few days.”
“Plenty of work and working a little late the past few weeks,” Sharon replied as she sat there as if nothing was unusual.
Darlene grabbed Sharon by the arm with a look of questioning “don’t you see what is happening”!
Gayle continued moving the clippers over Mrs. Hanson’s head, sending more of her hair to the floor behind the chair. With each buzzing you could see more of her facial features.
Her brown eyes were more outstanding as were her multi-pierced ears.
Within a few minutes the right side of her head was buzzed to the scalp.
Gayle walked around the back of the chair to the left side and begin buzzing the rest of her head. It didn’t take her long to finished and the clippers were turned off and placed back under the shelf.
Gayle picked up the hair duster and begin dusting Mrs. Hanson’s head from the front to the back.
She under the cape and let it fall into her lap.
She took a large white towel from the shelf and tucked into Mrs. Hanson’s collar, spreading it out over her shoulders.
She reached and removed the cape.
I thought back to that day, years ago, when everyone stood in front of Ol’ Mr. Meyers barber shop and watched as he cut that woman’s hair short then, he did the same thing Gayle was now doing, spreading a towel over her shoulders.
I just thought Gayle was going to do the same thing.
Instead she took another towel from the same pile and tossed it into the sink where the hot water was flowing from the foist. It was warm from the steady rise of steam.
But, she knew what she was doing.
After a few minutes she rung the towel out and turned and rapped it around Mrs. Hanson’s head.
My heart quickly rose to my throat because the last time I saw a barber do this, the person in the chair, a boy of about fifteen, ended up getting his head shaved.
But, surely Mrs. Hanson wasn’t going to get her head shaved!
But, as I watched, with the others, Gayle was flowing warm lather from the lather machine, into her left hand.
It was then I realized years ago that woman didn’t get her head shaved as the little girl had said.
But, now I was going to see that happen.
For some odd reason I started getting a funny feeling in my stomach, just as I had back then.
I remembered how much the darkness of my mind was wanting Mr. Meyers to do as the little girl said.
But, now the darkness of my mind was only purring with pleasure. My breathing was strange.
It was not fast nor slow, just a steady exchange as my body begin to warm.
My eyes fixed on Gayle as she lathered Mrs. Hanson’s head. My mine wanted the same feeling.
Her eyes closed as Gayle spread the warm lather over her head, not leaving any hair uncovered.
I felt a hand grab my left hand. It was Mary.
I turned to see her mouth almost wide open, her eyes in a stare of disbelief.
I saw her body change from loss of color, from her “burping”, to a pail color of fear or disbelief.
I noticed Darlene was staring in disbelief, too.
But, her facial expression was not the same as Mary’s.
It was more of the “unknown”, a look one gives when ‘they know what they are seeing but really don’t understand what it is they are seeing’.
I glanced a look in Sharon’s direction, just as Gayle was stropping the straight razor on the leather strap.
She was watching but not as the others, and I, were.
Her attention was as if she had seen this before and it there was nothing unusual about it.
I turned my attention back to the barber chair just as Gayle let the strap loose and she raised her right hand to the center of Mrs. Hanson’s forehead.
Just a she placed the sharp blade in place she begin shaving a short stroke downward and a little to the back. She wiped the lather off the blade and placed it back and began another stroke.
After wiping the lather off the blade she moved the finger tip over the shaved area, to check for smoothness.
She raised the blade back to Mrs. Hanson’s head begin shaving longer strokes, leaving behind pale skin.
Slowly more and more of Mrs. Hanson’s head, scalp was revealed.
Her eyes slowly closed as a smile came to her face.
Then, to our surprise Mrs. Hanson spoke, “That’s feels good.”
Gayle smiles as she patted Mrs. Hanson on the shoulder with her left hand.
It felt like an hour.
But, it was much less and the right side of her head was not hairless and smooth.
Gayle walked around the back of the chair and begin slowly shaving the back of her head.
First Mrs. Hanson’s head was up right.
Then, Gayle tilted it downward as she shaved the lower part of her head and down the nape of her neck.
Slowly she stepped around to the left side of the chair, shaving downward and forward as she did.
We all watched, each in out own wonderment, as Gayle finished shaving the left side of Mrs. Hanson’s head.
Just as she took the last two stroked Mrs. Hanson opened her eyes, staring right at us with a smile.
By now Mary’s hand had become sweaty and warm. Her body was bending forward a little with her right hand holding the seat she was sitting in.
Darlene was still in disbelief and there was a strange smile on her face.
Sharon was still sitting there as if nothing was really unusual.
But, I could tell from the rising and falling of her chest she was a little excited about what she was watching.
I tuned my attention back to Gayle as she was wiping Mrs. Hanson’s head of excess lather.
She wrapped another warm towel around her head, as she sprinkled some powder in her hands.
After the towel sat for a few minutes she removed it and begin spreading the powder over her head.
Again Mrs. Hanson closed her eyes with a smile on her face.
With the powder spread as she wanted, Gayle reached under the towel and raised it and began patting Mrs. Hanson’s head of any dampness.
Soon, she removed the towel, shook some powder on the hair duster and was dusting Mrs. Hanson’s head and face, as she lowered the chair a little.
When it came to a rest Gayle walked turning the chair so Mrs. Hanson was facing the small mirror which was behind the chair.
When it stopped Mrs. Hanson raised her heads to her head and begin slowly feeling her shaved head.
She turned her head from one side to the other, leaning forward to look closer at herself.
She smiled and shook her head, indicating everything was alright.
Gayle began walking and turning the chair so it was back facing the waiting area and us, with our different staring looks.
As the chair came to a stop Mrs. Hanson stood up and stepped from it.
She walked over to the waiting chair where her purse was.
She walked back to the chair and gave Gayle her payment.
“See you tomorrow night,” she told Gayle as she turned and walked out the shop.
“My GOD,” Mary spoke up loudly. “You shaved that woman’s head.”
Gayle looked at us, “Sure.
“She did it five years ago and let her hair grow back.
“When she called earlier she told me, ‘I’m walking out shaved’.
“I told her okay”.”
Gayle went back to cleaning up.
Sharon said, “Goodnight.”
Mary and Darlene still had a disbelief look on their face at what they saw.
Sharon still with a “So what” on her face.
Well, let’s just say I was doing some thinking.
I was thinking back to that day of years ago.
I was thinking of what I had witnessed tonight.
I was thinking of what the darkness of my mind was saying.
I would be starting three weeks vacation next Friday. I had no plans and wanted to go some where with a lot of sun.
Maybe a nice head to toe, complete head to toe tan would be nice.
Yes, a complete head to toe tan.
And, for a complete head to toe tan, maybe I would have to sh …….
The End Copyright (c) May 2004