When I found out my first article was going to be published on Sharpologist, I couldn’t wait to tell my family. How often does their little boy’s writing get published in article? Well, not often; in fact, never before this. (Truth be told, I have had some music published. You can visit the site of my now-defunct band. I was the guitarist.)
So… I emailed my father-in-law, Craig, about my new article, and he wrote back with an anecdote of his memories of shaving while growing up in small-town Minnesota.
This morning I finally read your article in Sharpologist. Very interesting and “ouch”! The señorita wasn’t too kind to your mug huh? Good comments also, as was part 2. My mom’s brother-in-law, our uncle, was a barber in North Mankato, MN. We called him Uncle Mart. … I have some memories of when we used to drive to North Mankato from Brainerd for our visits. If uncle Mart was at his shop working, my brother and I would walk over to it to see him, and if we needed one, he would always give us a nice haircut; always a butch. That is what they called that style of cut back then. From what I can remember his shop was located on the main street of town next to a five and dime (5/10), which could have been a Ben Franklin. I remember my brother and I going into the five and dime. My mom would give us either a nickle or a dime, and we both would end up buying one of those glider airplanes made out of balsa wood. We would then walk next door to our uncle’s shop and sit and wait for him. It was a real treat to watch him cut hair and also shave men. I remember him with his straight razor; and the wide leather belt attached to the chair that he would use to sharpen his razor; and his shaving mug and brush. I also remember a chrome type box that he would open up and take out white towels, then wrap around a guy’s face. I still remember seeing the steam coming out of the box when he opened it. He would have the barber chair reclined in almost a laying position while he put the towels on the guys face, and then he would raise it when he did the shave. It is funny how I remember that so clearly. I also remember him sharpening his razor on the belt and how he use to hold his razor in his hand. He had also shown us all this once when we were in his chair getting a haircut. I remember the belt quite well also. He gave my mom an old one to use on us when we screwed up! It is just funny how this came back to me as I read your article (and some of the other ones on Sharpologist). One other thing: I still remember the smell of his barbershop with the shaving creams and aftershave, which I think was maybe bay rum, if they used it back then. BTW, the time period of this had to be in the mid- (maybe late) ’50s.
In a subsequent email, after asking him if it was okay to post his story, he says:
I used to love to just sit and watch him cut hair, and I also recall helping him sweep up the hair off the floor. In fact, I remember him also giving my mom an electric hair clipper, and she used to cut me and my brothers hair; again a butch. I also remember he gave her a brush that they used to brush the hair off and around the neck area. Both would be antiques now. You may want to check with [his daughter and ex-wife] and see if they ever remember seeing them or found anything like that after my mom died.
I’m really lucky to have a father-in-law with great stories to share and a good memory! If we find the clippers or brush, I’ll be sure to add some photos.