Giving Thanks to Our Friends, the Barber, The ‘Cutting Edge of Samson’
I Remember Well
the first evening when my dad took me on a journey which lasted for six-interesting and fun-filled years of which I have never forgotten. No. This journey was not abroad in some part of Europe where the Van Gogh’s and Picasso’s hung out, but it WAS a place where some men, real men, did hang-out and share some laughter, advice, and marital confessions.
My dad had taken me to the local barbershop. And it was just like I told you about in my first paragraph—in every way. Older men, younger men, and the men who just made the barber shop their home away from home—and it just a big part of (a) town’s successful structure. And that was it.
From two blocks away, the men in the barber shop’s sometimes-heated arguments about various political ideas could bring down the fire of heaven, then leave the curse words and threats behind and share a good laugh or a quick nip of some good homemade liquor. And that was how life was in the barber shop.
Why am I so Supportive
about (the) barber shop that was seen in almost every rural city of our country? As a customer, I was only eleven when my dad left me all alone with his barber, Mr. Loyd Killingsworth, an humble, soft-spoken man who made the best barber in town without any advertising whatsoever. Killingsworth didn’t need the accolades—he just cut hair. And that was advertising enough.
The main reason that I still support the barber shop, which is now a faded fixture of our society, is, and you will not believe it, but it was the people, not the barber’s talent for cutting hair that made “this” establishment so-needed in another time and place. Men greeted men, the real men who helped to shoulder the work of the town where they lived and pay the bills of their support for our military, construction, as well as the spiritual place in our town. One person helping the other was not an option, but the real way of life.
The older men who had grown up, mostly inside the barber shop and loved it. The cigar, cigarette, and pipe smoke (from sweet-scented tobacco from North Carolina’s choice tobacco farms) wasn’t felt as a complaint, but the smooth way that “this” life was lived—with hardly any adverse conditions to speak of. Except for a bit of bellyaching about high taxes, the barber shop not only lived it all, but seen and heard it all.
Who can forget the almost-perfect lifestyle of those who not only worked inside the barber shop, but gave it such things as Barber Shop Quartet Singing, which in 2019, is a world-wide communal interest of this fine talent for singing. Many competitions are held that promote music without instruments, just the voices of quartets that hail from many places in Europe and most of our states in the U.S.A., where competitions are held on a yearly-basis to send winning-quartets to the Divisional Levels and then to compete in the National Levels. As far as I know, barber shop singing is living well and shows no sign of slowing down.
© 2019 Kenneth Avery