BL: Barbers Shops … and Letters of Disassociation

Barber Shop
BobLee
March05/ 2018

This past Friday there was “a shooting in Kinston” near The Friendly Barber Shop . You know Kinston as “where I’m from”. Normally “a shooting in Kinston” circa 2018 is about as newsworthy as “King’s BBQ sold some hushpuppies today”.

Both random shootings and hushpuppy sales are frequent “back home” these days.

The staccato chatter of the tobacco auctioneer having been replaced with the bang bang of 9mms.

This one was different. It occurred in a part of town where they “aren’t supposed to happen”.

Think of Kinston as ChicagoLand… a shooting in South Chicago is “yeah… so what” but a shooting up in Evanston is “WHOA… that’s not good.”  “East Kinston” is South Chicago to the locals.   Lenoir County’s Las Vegas…

What happens in East Kinston… stays in East Kinston… hopefully.

Stay with me… this has a point.

Friday’s “gunfire rang out” occurred near the intersection of Herritage & W. Lenoir… about a ½ block from The Friendly Barber Shop. … on the western edge of “downtown”.  Kinston, like many small Southern communities has been going thru a socio-ethnic transition over the past 30 years relative to the prevailing ethnicity of various residential neighborhoods.

Police reports indicate an ethnic similarity twixt the shooters and the shootees ergo local concern is limited to “where” more so than “who”.  … like shootings in South Chicago during the Obama Administration.

If there is an award for a PC-explanation of what I just described, I should merit at least an Honorable Mention, don’t you think?

My attention was drawn to near The Friendly Barber Shop.  My pal Ronnie Hill’s father, Joe Hill, owned that shop for many years. I frequented it as a teen-ager. Got my one and only “flat-top” there as I recall. It was NOT a “good look” for me.

I passed along this report to an e-mail “bark patrol” of old Kinston friends across the country. Within ten minutes I got a reply from Donald Parrott – the middle of a legendary trio known simply as “those Parrott Boys” – Reid, Donald & Hubert.

‘Dem boys were “one Zeppo” from being funnier than Chico, Groucho and Harpo.

Donald noted that Joe Hill had, some years ago, sold The Friendly to Red Hathaway. Red, as every Kinstonian of The 60s knows, owned Hathaway’s Barber Shop at the corner of Queen & Caswell. It was “subterranean” i.e. it was underneath Oettinger Bros Furniture Store. Red, apparently, was going to corner the market on corner barber shops in Kinston.

OK… we’re almost to that aforementioned “point”.

Seven years ago I posted a Classic called Saturday Mornings @ Hathaways. I dug it out of the BLSays archives and sent a link to Donald.  In re-reading it, I realized it was far better than the blah bah column I was planning to write today about How Awful College BB IsWhether Earth is a Different Planet because Duke won… or What The Hell Is “a Letter of Disassociation”.

“A Letter of Disassociation” regardless if sent by Frau Yow… BubbaTheRealAD … WhatsHisName @ Duke or “that angry gay skater who looked like Pee Wee Herman”… doesn’t mean “squat”.

It is not a TRO – Temporary Restraining Order – or even a No Trespassing sign.  So says my friend – “the esteemed liberal lawyer”- who is very smart at least on “law stuff” if not so much on “politics”.

As a sad sign of our times… Saturday morning, I got into a bare-knuckle Tweet fight with a rather rabid Wuff board monkey re: Letters of Disassociation. It was 45 minutes of my life I can never recover. Not sure what could have been a greater waste of time… and I knew it after the first three minutes.  ARGHHH.

BLS Rule #4 re: Twitter: NEVER carry a twitter discussion more than one reply. Simply press the Block The SOB button and go sort your sock drawer. As valuable advice as I will ever give out here.

Soooo… here is that Classic from 2011 …. Saturday Mornings @ Hathaways.

NOTE:  Neither the picture up top nor this one are actually THE Friendly Barber Shop in Kinston or Hathaway’s.  98% of you have no clue where Kinston is and certainly no knowledge of its barber shops.

♦♦♦

Saturday Mornings at Hathaways

June 12, 2011 Old Barber Shop

I don’t remember the first time nor the last time we went, but for Little BobLee, Saturday mornings at Hathaway’s with Dad were special.

The psycho-babble phrase “bonding” had not been invented yet.  It was simply my Dad and me getting haircuts.  Hathaway’s Barber Shop was on the corner of Queen & Caswell Streets down a flight of steps in a basement beneath Oettinger Brothers Furniture store.  ….  if I catch a whiff of Pinaud Clubmen or talcum, I still recall those “Saturday mornings at Hathaway’s”.

It was the late 50s and it was a pretty big deal when I got to go with Dad to Hathaway’s Barber Shop.  Two guys doing guy stuff – No Women or Girls Allowed.

Ours was a tobacco town so Hathaway’s would have a mixture of farmers and merchants.  Doctors, lawyers, merchants, “Duponters”, and guys in overalls and jeans and plaid shirts.  There were four barbers – “Red” Hathaway was the proprietor, “Red’s” brother and two others.  “Red’s chair was down on the far end.   All four barbers were always wearing white barber smocks.  There was a mirror that ran the full-length of the wall behind the barbers and shelves of multi-colored bottles of various sizes and shapes.

None of the barbers were named “Floyd”.  They were all “Floyds”.

Across from the barbers were 10-15 wooden chairs for customers.  There were lots of hooks to hang hats.  It was The 50s and men wore fedoras.  This was The 50s in the rural South.

You didn’t take a # or sign a waiting list.  You simply noticed who was ahead of you when you walked in so you knew when you were “next”.   There were never any disputes …. no shouting …. no harsh words.  Sometimes the man ahead of you would say “I’m waiting for Red” so you got to move up if another barber was open.  “Red” had his own clientele.

The #1 conversation topic was “the weather”.  I’m sure there was political chatter but back then it was “good-natured”.  Ahhhh, those were the good ol’ days.  I don’t recall any ribald jokes.  Our pro sports teams were the Redskins and the Senators – First in War – First in Peace – and Last in the American League.

If a new “something” had opened in town it would get a critique.  Some gossip about “a preacher who had to abruptly leave town” or “that new waitress at the lunch counter at Standard Drug Store”.

I recall the magazines.  “Men’s magazines” that made me as, a young lad, uncomfortably curious.  They had names like Saga, True and Argosy.  The covers always featured…Mans Life

… curvaceous women imperiled …

with their clothes in tatters and imperiled either from Nazis or Japs or motorcycle gangs.   I just remember the covers.  It was unspokenly understood that I should not exercise my curiosity.

There were the hunting / fishing magazines – Sports Afield and Field & Stream.  I learned of a faraway place called Manitoba where huge “muskies” lurked.

There were a few comic books for us boys – Superman and Blackhawk.  This was a Men’s barbershop, not really catering to kids so no Weekly Reader or such as one might find at the dentists’.  Oh and definitely Farmers Almanac.

Copies of the local “Daily Free Press” were strewn about.  The Publisher and Editor were longtime locals.  They had opinions but this was back when newspapers could spell “integrity”.   We had a Dr Peele who was “a John Bircher” whatever that was.  He always had a Letter To The Editor but I don’t know anyone who ever read one of his letters.

Aficionados of F. Scott Fitzgerald may recall “The Eyes of Dr T.J. Eckelberg”.  At Hathways it was E.J. Paidar.  E.J. Paidar EJ Paidarmade barber chairs.  The name was in the wrought-iron footrest of each chair.  When you looked down so the barber could clean your neck, you saw E.J. Paidar’s name staring up at you.

Did I need “a little boy seat”?  That padded board that fit across the barber chair arms so a small boy’s head would be at the right level.  I truly don’t recall.  But I do recall that big brush with the talcum powder and the smell of Pinaud Clubmen.

Often after our haircut, Dad and I would walk a block down Queen Street to “the dime store” – McClellan’s – and I could get a small toy …. maybe a yo-yo or a peashooter. In our town everyone knew everyone and EVERYONE knew my Dad – he was the local surveyor and, they said, his name was on every map in the courthouse.

One day I didn’t go to Hathaway’s on Saturday any more.  I don’t know why or where I went instead.  One day a boy just knows it’s time to go get his haircuts without Dad.

Now I get my haircuts by “Brandi” at The Guys Barber Shop.  There are magazines but without racy covers.  Guys still talk about “the weather” …. and some new-fangled sport called “hockey”.  I think “Red” Hathaway would approve.

♦♦♦

######

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