Remembering The Way Barbershops Were 

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Figar0… Figar0! The Barber of Seville!

In remembering the art and tradition of barbering, it is all in reference to.. and specifically, right HERE the good ol’ USA.
The Iconic Barber’s pole
From then, physicians were clearly separated from the surgeons and barbers. … Another, more fanciful interpretation of these barber pole colors is that red represents arterial blood, blue is symbolic of venous blood, and white depicts the bandage.

source

The look of the barber pole is linked to bloodletting, with red representing blood and white representing the bandages used to stem the bleeding. … Both barbers and surgeons, however, remained part of the same trade guild until 1745. thehistorychannel.com

The 1880s to the 1940s were the golden age for barbershops. During this time, men socialized in all-male hangouts, and barbershops rivaled saloons in popularity. Visiting the barbershop was a weekly, and sometimes daily habit. Men would stop in not only for a haircut and a shave, but also to fraternize with friends and chew the fat.

During this golden age, barbershops were classy places with often stunning surroundings. Marble counters were lined with colorful glass-blown tonic bottles. The barber chairs were elaborately carved from oak and walnut, and fitted with fine leather upholstery. Everything from the shaving mugs to the advertising signs were rendered with an artistic flourish. The best shops even had crystal chandeliers hanging from fresco painted ceilings.

Despite this level of luxury, barbershops were homey and inviting. A memorable and heavenly man aroma filled the air. The smell of cherry, wintergreen, apple, and butternut flavored pipe and tobacco smoke mixed with the scent of hair tonics, pomades, oils, and neck powders. These aromas became ingrained in the wood and every cranny of the shop. The moment a man stepped inside, he was enveloped in the warm and welcoming familiarity. He was immediately able to relax, and as soon as the hot lather hit his face, his cares would simply melt away.

The Decline

vintage barber shop men getting haircuts

The first blow to barbershops came in 1904 when Gillette began mass marketing the safety razor. Their advertisements touted the razor as more economical and convenient than visiting the barbershop. The use of safety razors caught on, and during World War I, the US government issued them along with straight razors to the troops. Having compared the two razors size by side, upon returning home from the front many soldiers discarded both the straight razor and their frequent trips to the barbershop. Going to the barber for a shave became a special occasion instead of a regular habit.

In the decades after WWI, several other factors combined to weaken the place of the barbershop in society. Companies like Sears began selling at-home haircutting kits, and mom began cutting Junior’s and Pop’s hair. Then the Depression hit, and people cut back on discretionary spending like barber shaves. The loss of male lives in the World and Korean wars also shrunk barbers’ pool of clientele. Then in the 1960s Beatlemania and the hippie culture seized the country, and hairstyles began to change. Men started to grow their hair longer and shaggier, and their visits to the barber became infrequent or non-existent.

Even when short hair came back into style during the 1980s, men did not return en masse to the barbershop. Instead, a new type of hairdresser siphoned off the barbers’ former customers: the unisex salon. Places like “SuperCuts” which were neither beauty salons nor barbershops, catered to both men and women. Many states’ licensing boards accelerated this trend by ceasing to issue barber licenses altogether and instead issuing a unisex “cosmetologist” license to all those seeking to enter the hair cutting profession.

A BARBERSHOP MUSEUM? Yes, and Simply Fascinating!

Elvis Presley and the Haircut That Shook The World: The Chaffee Barbershop Museum in Fort Smith.

There’s a museum for everything, and that certainly applies to things related to Elvis. But the Chaffee Barbershop Museum is more than just a place to celebrate a moment when The King got his coiffure clipped.

Elvis Presley continues to fascinate legions of American and international fans, decades after his demise. The King of Rock and Roll may have been born in Tupelo and made Memphis his home, but his Arkansas connections are long and deep. Whether it’s the Municipal Theater where he sang with the likes of Johnny Cash in 1955, the Trio Club in Pine Bluff where he bonded with The Browns, the juke joints along US Highway 67 around Walnut Ridge or The Old South Restaurant where he often dined in Russellville, it’s true that Elvis loved himself some Arkansas.

8 thoughts on “Remembering The Way Barbershops Were 

  1. Turns out barbershops have an interesting history, the more you learn I guess haha. I used to go to a barber but a lot like the soldiers in WW1 I prefer convenience and price to quality at this point in my life.

  2. Thank you Jacob for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. You’ve highlighted on some good reflections. I will agree that many changes in today’s lifestyles are due to modern conveniences. The surge continues while disconnecting people and commerce. Take care and have a great day.

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