Prior to relating my story I should inform everybody my knowledge of basic electricity is just that, basic.  What I do know is gerbils, kites and keys, and shamans have been supplanted with wire, magnets, electrons and protons. What I don’t know is why I get jolted when I’m careless with the science.

It is 1953 and autumn has been abruptly swallowed by an early winter storm. My nine year old legs struggle mightily to traverse the billowing drifts, although my struggle hasn’t dampened thoughts of trick or treating tomorrow night.  “Tony, the organ grinder.”  Gramps’ worn, floppy fedora, cigar box organ with crank and a mustache carefully crafted by mom with her eyeliner pencil. When I enter the house dad inexplicably tells me to change then explains he and I will be heading to uncle Georges’ house for a haircut.

Uncle GeorgeUncle George is one of dad’s six brothers and has been the only barber I’ve known.  We arrive at his house in quick step and upon hanging-up my hat and coat I’m instructed to “hop up” on the stool.  Once situated unc. strangles me with an apron until he locates a snap that only cuts off 40% of the blood supply to the brain.  In addition, the hair stuck in the neckline of the cloth creates a rasping effect from unc.  trying to expose the most amount of hair growing down my neck.  Now I hear ” tuck in your chin.”  I open my mouth, a bit, and jam my chin into my soon to be adams apple.  That done, a cold, metal, hand held, soon to be defined “course clipper”, climbs from the lowest part of my hairline northward.  Always the benefactor I sit quietly and cringe with every pass silently wondering why it’s called a haircut and not a hair pull. Another clipper, the “fine cut”, and various scissors and combs make up the balance of the artisans tools, I think.  I think wrong. Out of a medicine cabinet comes the shaving mug and straight razor.  Warm lather dresses my skin around my ears and down the nape of my neck. I’m instructed to sit still as uncle G. performs the final act in this play.  The feel of the razor accompanied with the scraping sound confirms why I’m told to sit still. Surgery without an incision.  The sweat travelling down my back warrants some scratching but I don’t move.  A warm, wet cloth cleaning the remainder of the suds indicates the final act has been performed. The removal of the apron gives me the opportunity to scratch my neck for full relief of the pinching I endured for thirty minutes.

The story of the haircut completed  I refer to the introduction.  Man has known about electricity for CENTURIES.  Experiments have been documented back to the FIFTEENTH century. Many by Italians. This haircut was in the twentieth century. Did they not have electric tools?

Despite uncle George’s lack of electrical acumen, his entreprenurial spirit led him to open and own a four chair barber shop for decades.  Oh, yes, an automated soap dispenser and electric clippers.

By Carlo Orlando©

 Posted by at 10:12 pm