HAIRCUTS AS A KID

crewcut     moptop

How much would you pay if you could just sit down in the barber’s (stylist) chair and walk away with the perfect haircut? I would pay whatever the barber charged plus a 20% tip…no questions asked. We just moved to a different city which is still close to where we used to live, but not close enough to keep going to the same barber. Finding and breaking in a new barber is difficult. Your a first time customer so you need to explain how you want it cut, then just sit back and hope, usually to be disappointed. It was so much different as a kid. The barbershops in the early 60’s had pictures on the wall of different hairstyles. All you had to do when your number was called was point to the picture and sit down in which ever chair came open. This is after you had already graduated from the at-home haircut by dad which consisted of one pair of shears set at a ridiculously short setting and sitting outside watching your hair fall around you. It was also your job to clean that up afterwards. Going to the barbershop was kinda cool because they had stacks of comic books to read while you were waiting. You wanted a few minutes to try and find a comic book that had come out in the past year but the majority were the same ones going back 10-years or so. I remember always being fascinated with the advertisements for X-RAY glasses that claimed you could see through anything including women’s clothing. I would rip the ad out of the comic book but never do anything with it. Even back then as a 12-year old I could smell something fishy about how well they would work and why I had never seen anyone actually wearing a pair after all those years. Well my number gets called and I jump up in to the barbers chair and the barber makes the chair higher with a few pumps of his feet. I would love to own an original barber’s chair…they were so comfortable. After being asked how I wanted my haircut I would point to a picture on the wall, “Gimme the Regular Boys” cut. There were a total of six haircuts you could choose from…that’s it, so it was a much simpler process. You didn’t even have to talk, just point to a picture on the wall. The Regular Boys was the most popular as it gave you enough hair to part and comb over with shorter sides. It was about what 70% of the boys and men were wearing back then. They called the men’s version The Professional, just another name for Regular Boys, but men didn’t like saying Regular Boys. This is the haircut associated with the Kennedy brothers that so many wanted to emulate at the time. The Kennedy’s wore their hair slightly longer and messier but it was the same old Regular Boys haircut. Next in line of popularity is the Crew Cut which was considered clean and wholesome. The crew cut is achieved most quickly and easily with clippers and is still the mainstay of small town barbershops across the country. The cut was short, too short to comb, but longer on top than the sides so it was one step better than the classic Butch Cut. The butch cut was one short length over the entire head often associated with the military. If your hair ever got too long for your parent’s liking and you put up a fuss the big threat was ” Go to the barbershop and get a butch…see how you like that”. Discussion over. One of the crazier haircuts for the time was The Flattop which I still think is cool. It is a type of crew cut but the top is level like a flat deck, or table-top. It was hard to maintain as it took thick hair to make it work right. It was popular in the early 60’s because Roger Maris, 61 homers in ’61, wore that style. You could also get the Flattop with Fenders which meant the sides would be combed staight back to give the impression of classic fenders from a Cadillac while the top was still a Flattop…almost impossible to keep up every day. The best Flattop with Fenders was worn by Jerry West of the LA Lakers…it was a classic.

Then one day something radical happened in the barbershops of America. In the mid-60’s two new pictures were added to the wall. We couldn’t believe our eyes, we never imagined there could be be more than six types of haircuts…the times were a changin’. One new cut was the Mop-Top which was arguably the most iconic men’s hairstyle of the 60’s. The mop-top was popularized by the Beatles and further emulated by rock groups such as the Rolling Stones and Herman’s Hermits. The mop-top was a haircut that sported long bangs that grazed the eyebrows in front and hung down to hit the shirt collar in back. It was thought of as long and radical at the time but looking back it was really quite well kept and short by the time the 70’s hit. The second new haircut was the Afro. When growing up in practically all-white town, the Afro wasn’t a big hit. It did cause a lot of conversation but the cut was primarily for Blacks popularized by Black Power and Women’s Rights . Angela Davis, a political activist in the 60’s, had the premier Afro of all-time. The new ABA players also helped usher in this new look, even Dr. J sported one with the NY Nets. After 1965 all hell broke loose and picking a haircut just didn’t matter. Grow it long and don’t ever cut it was the style, ” Gimme a head with hair…”. Stylists have now replaced barbers for the most part and instead of pictures of haircuts to choose from on the wall, there are scenes from Paris. The prices have skyrocketed which doesn’t bother me if I could just sit down and get a perfect haircut.

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