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Saturday, December 17, 2016


The Barber Shop

Now almost a thing of the past is that bastion of masculinity – the barber shop. In 1899, there were six barber shops listed in the City Directory. That figure increased to nine in 1907, but was reduced to eight in 1921. In the following years the number of listed barber shops rose to 17 in 1940 and dropped down to seven in 1961. The current yellow pages have no less than 68 listings under “barber shops”, most of which are out of Salisburyand listed as “salons” or “stylists”, certainly not barber shops.

The barber shop of bygone times offered shaves as well as haircuts. Many had a rack on the wall that kept individual mugs of shaving cream for the various customers. A shave from a barber cannot be had today, due to the current health laws. They have had to add certain amenities to their product line that may include a hair washing or “facial” just to make ends meet.

Every man has memories of his first trip to the barber shop. Mine were of Johnnie’s down on Church Street near what is now Route 13. I think he had another shop farther east on Church Street on the corner of Railroad Avenue. My mother told me this, but I don’t remember it being there. He then moved west on Church Street in a long narrow shop. There were chairs on either side leading up to the single barber chair manned by Johnnie Adkins. He also had a fake parrot in a cage that always fascinated me. He then moved to a house just a couple of addresses west. The one farther west on Church Street is still visible and the stone addition on the front of a white frame house is all that remains of Johnnie Adkins barber shop. Somewhere during this period, my mother entrusted me alone in the barber shop. She would walk down Church Street to Kelly’s Drug Store and wait for me there, which I always looked forward to because it meant a “soda fountain” soda.

I grew up in the “crew-cut” era and always had a stick of the red goop that made your hair stand up in front. I think they called it butch wax. The barber shop of choice was Krause & Taylor’s on N. Division Street. The price of a good butch cut went from 25 to 50 cents during this era. Of course, there was always the barber school located on S. Division Street. They charged 35 cents for a so-so haircut.

When longer hair became the style men, the local barber shops offered “hair-styling” for about seven dollars. I worked on the Plaza for Ralph & Gaskill at the time and all the young people on Main Street knew each other. It seemed that what barbers liked to refer to as styling, the beauty parlor at Benjamin’s considered a short cut. Since it was only three dollars, I never felt any embarrassment going there.

Another thing that has disappeared through the years is the Daisy & Bozman Barber Supply Store. They used to make their own after shave and my favorite was something called Bonita Bouquet. It only cost two dollars for a 16 ounce bottle. It also worked in your cigarette lighter and gave off a wonderful aroma. Ah, memories!


Anonymous said...

No different than the demise of full service gas station. ThE disposable razor and Wahl clippers.

Sam Smullen said...

Thanks George. I went to the Barber Shop when I got too old for my mom to cut my hair. The barber's name was Charlie and I think it was a room in his house, (not sure). The place was on a street off Snow Hill road near the Salisbury Park and the street stopped at the Rail Road tracks. I was scared to death of him. He never stopped talking with the men in the shop while he was running the clipper blades through my hair,then I had plenty of it. Wow! what a blast from the past. Sam Smullen

Anonymous said...

There also was Red's barber shop down next to the pool hall on Baptist Street. Owner was Red's Martin. The 2 ball rackers at the pool hall were Squirrel and Harland.

Anonymous said...

Kelly’s Drug Store was Kelley's Drug Store

Anonymous said...

I think my dad went to Bill Bradley's barber shop somewhere in the Main St/ Old Ocean City Rd. area.