Mr. Peacock has had a few hairdresser friends cut his hair over the years, but for the most part, he’s always gone to an old school neighborhood barbershop. There’s something about climbing into the old barber chair, with the sound of hair clippers humming, that is very comforting.
Many boys cry at their first visit to the barbershop, but not Mr. Peacock. I can still remember as a small boy loving the “shininess” of the barbershop—with the gleaming chrome barber chairs, shiny scissors and the wall of mirrors. I also liked the smells of the menthol shaving cream and old fashioned hair tonics wafting in the air.
My father had the same hairstyle (see photo below) his entire life—short and slicked back in waves. He always cut his hair himself; sitting on the edge of the bathroom sink, holding a hand mirror and little scissors—usually smoking a cigarette at the same time. My mom tried cutting my dad’s hair once with clippers and it was a huge disaster. Since college, Mr. Peacock has always had some model of Wahl Clippers in his possession, trimming his own hair and successfully cutting many friend’s hair too. I’ve begged my partner, Jason, numerous times to trim my hair, but he adamantly says no—fearing a hair catastrophe like my mother.
Above: Mr. Peacock as a child, with his barbershop haircut, and his father (I think he's licking his lips in this shot, but you can see his hairstyle) smoking a cigarette.
Like most of the boys at my junior high school, I had shoulder length “feathered” hair when I was about 12 years old. I can remember my younger sister and myself standing near my father at the club, where he was the golf pro, and a new member complimenting him on his lovely daughters, referring to my sister and myself. I was mortified and remember thinking—I do not look like a girl! My dad hit the roof, and had my mother take me to the barbershop the next day. I shed a few tears, not because I disliked the barbershop, but because I would be the lone geek with a super short buzz-cut at school.
When I lived at 72nd and Lexington in New York (near Paul Mole Barbershop), I would always get my hair cut at the York Barbershop by a very soft spoken old Greek gentleman. They had women barbers too, but somehow it wasn’t the same experience as getting your hair cut by an older man who has cut hair his entire life. While you waited your turn in the barber chair, you were always welcome to peruse dog-eared Playboy or Sports Illustrated magazines.
I still get my hair cut at an old neighborhood barbershop, but it has more of a woodsy 1970’s San Francisco vibe, than the shiny traditional barbershop vibe with the red, white and blue barber pole. At my San Francisco barber you’re offered a Bud Light and can peruse old Honcho or Men’s Journal magazines, instead of the old school Playboys. But, you still get an old fashioned barber hair cut for only $18 bucks.
Above: F.S.C. Barbershop in Manhattan, and Rudy's Barbershop at the Standard Hotel in Los Angeles.
Mr. Peacock was worried that the old fashioned barber shops of America were going to disappear, but is pleased with the revival of old school style barber shops like Freemans’s Sporting Club in New York, and to a lesser extent, Rudy’s Barbershops on the West Coast. There’s something charming about the informal atmosphere and camaraderie of a barbershop that most salons don't have. Where do you get your hair cut—barbershop or salon?