Two Barbers

Content Index: PC157

By Scott Nesler - Drafted Saturday; March 5, 2011

Barbers do more than cut hair. In many ways they're therapists. The concentration to prevent hair divots requires attention.   Since speaking is hampered, listening is enhanced. Both of my barbers could recall many stories. Unlike a spouse or family member, a barber converses with a customer about once every four weeks, fifteen minutes at a time.  Such a short period provides little time for redundancy.

The community worth of a barber is disappearing with the arrival of the franchise salon.  It may be possible to build a lasting friendship with a stylist, but it is not the intent of corporate management. Stylist are typically friendly, though the acquaintance is for the moment. A typical franchise salon has four women cutting hair at a time. Customers are either new or too impatient to wait for a known stylist. A routine customer has a 25% chance of sharing an intimate moment of human grooming with someone of familiarity.

The following is a reflection of two barbers and the loss of a community focal point.

At 47 years of age I've had two primary barbers. Lynn Hacke and Don Scott. Both were old style barbers with a spinning candy cane at the entrance of the shop. Moving from East Alton Illinois to St. Charles Missouri and then later to Maryland Heights Missouri I would make the forty mile trip for a monthly trim at Lynn Hacke's barber shop in Wood River Illinois. That was until twenty seven years of age. Lynn acquired cancer and died within a year. A year later I found Don Scott. Initially the drive from Maryland Heights to Don's shop was about seven miles. About eleven years ago my wife, son, and I moved to Chesterfield Missouri.  While there were plenty of hair franchises closer to home, I remained loyal to Don. The mileage from Chesterfield to Don's shop in Creve Couer Missouri is about twelve miles.

I keep my hair much shorter now. Shorter makes it appear as if there were more. I guess? Shorter hair needs trimmed every two to three weeks so not to look shaggy. It's been about six weeks since Don last cut my hair. The previous time I called his answering machine mentioned he was having a hospital procedure. Needing a cut, I found a rare barber shop closer to home, not a franchise salon. The formula was different. Three male barbers working with no appointments. There were eight people waiting in front of me. Within five minutes I could tell who was the best of three. Oh my God I thought, two weeks as a divot head. For twenty five minute I anticipated the worst man for the job. Once in the chair the stranger asked an unanticipated question, “How do you want your hair cut?”.

Today I needed another haircut. I dialed the memorized number (314) 997-4020 and a low raspy voiced answered. Thinking it was a familiar voice, I said "Hi Don, do you have any openings around 9am". The gentleman apologized for my mistake and said his name was Lee. He went on to explain Don had sold the business due to serious illness.

In life there are family members and work colleagues. As a software contractor for many years the jobs would expire and then I move on. I've moved from the town of my upbringing. Remaining there, I doubt many friends of longevity and frequent contact would exist. I base that on my siblings who still live in the Alton/Wood River region. Sure they have numerous friends, but few stand the test of time.

Off the top of my freshly trimmed head, I can't think of many individuals other than family acquiring nineteen years of persistent contact. Outside of the barber shop, I knew little of Lynn Hacke or Don Scott. Probably more of Lynn because he was from the community of my upbringing. He had kids my age who went to a neighboring school in Roxana Illinois. One of his son's was a school principle for my nieces and nephew. Lynn and my family did not socialize outside of the barber shop, though he did go fishing once with my father.

As for Don, I knew he lived in Maryland Heights. He was nearing retirement age, he had a wife, children, and grand children, his taste for classics spanned music and Chevrolet Corvettes. I'm ashamed I did not know more of Don. Maybe he was too busy providing a good hair cut and being a great listener.

There are two points of this essay. To share the recent loss of one of two barbers and describe an important asset lost with the franchising of community.

The grade below reflect the quality of an authors words.   It is intended to motivate a better expression of thought. As an author, I've never graded my own contributions. This is an exception. This essay was motivated by the loss of Don Scott as a barber of nearly nineteen years.  Within the A's in scoring is my tally of appreciation for Don's longevity and worth in community relationship. Thank you Don.

For more on Don Scott, please read a compilation of these words expressed for his funeral ceremony.


# Assoc. Grades
1In Memory of Don Scott00004-17-1109-12-12


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I'm not a politician. I only want to help relieve the suffering in communities, and I want to help people see their community in each other. Russell Simmons


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