by Steve Mathisen
It was a bright sunny Wednesday morning in late June. My last day of school was yesterday and I was looking forward to my first day of summer vacation with nothing to do at all.
I walked into the kitchen to find my mother setting the table for breakfast. She was talking to her friend Mrs. Randolph on the phone but saw me walk in and smiled at me. I pulled the cereal off the shelf in the pantry and retrieved the milk from the fridge.
My mom had already set the table with bowls, glasses and spoons at each place. I sat down in my usual seat and proceeded to pour my cereal and milk into my bowl.
I had just taken my first bite and was starting to read the back of the cereal box when I heard my mother, “Ok Betsy, I’ll see you at 2 at your house. Bye!”
She came over to where I was sitting, ruffled my hair and said “Good morning sweetie. Oh, your hair is longer than I thought. I think that it’s time for a haircut. I’ll get you the money and you can go get a haircut when you are done with your breakfast.”
“Mom!” I said as she walked out of the room.
I didn’t want to get a haircut.
But, after finishing my breakfast & brushing my teeth, I took the money she handed to me and rode my bike over to O’Halloran’s barber shop.
When I arrived, I was surprised to see three of the six chairs busy with men getting haircuts. I never knew that people got haircuts this early on a Wednesday. I slumped into one of the waiting chairs to wait and picked up a copy of a dog eared car magazine. That’s when the sounds and smells of the barber shop began to hit me.
I could hear the sound of a radio playing music from the back corner of the shop, scissors snipping and the barbers and the men discussing sports and politics.
The smell of the place was a really clean smell. Mr. O’Halloran always kept the place spotless and cleaned up the floor after each customer. Also, he always used a special tonic in everyone’s hair when he finished up a haircut. There was an ad for it on the wall. It was called Wildroot Cream-Oil Hair Tonic. Nothing else in the world smells like that.
When my turn in the chair came Mr. O’Halloran and I talked about the fact that school was out, what I wanted to do this summer and about my family. He always made sure that he asked lots of question about his customers. It made me feel more grown up when he did that.
He put that Wildroot Tonic in my hair when he was done. I paid, thanked him and walked back outside with that fresh summer morning sun in my eyes and the smell of Wildroot in my nose.
I remember it like yesterday even though it was about 50 years ago.
Barbershop Image credit to Seth Anderson.
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