Retro: Barber Shops

Paleo Retiree writes:

These days I often find myself enjoying retro things. Is it my age that makes me so partial to old things, and to new things done in old styles? (If I’ve achieved true fuddy-duddyism, I have to say that it feels surprisingly good. No more need to “keep up” with things — yay to that.) Is it spending so much time using flashily modern electronic gadgets that leaves me in the mood for something more solid and material?

In any case, I feel a reliable and deep rush of satisfaction when a well-kept old car drives by … or when I visit a steakhouse, and settle in beside The Wife in a red-leather booth … or when a classic cocktail is placed before me.

Urbanistic moments and touches often do it for me too. The other day, for instance, I was was strolling through the downtown of a small California burg and noticed that it supported two traditional barber shops. Not hair-stylists but barber shops, dammit — the real deal, with the requisite poles, seats, signs and relaxed, guyish camaraderie. What a lovely little experience it was to explore them for a few minutes.

Here’s a visual impression.

Do such places detract from our experience of “downtown,” or are they part of why we bother with downtowns at all?

About Paleo Retiree

Onetime media flunky and movie buff and very glad to have left that mess behind. Formerly Michael Blowhard of the cultureblog Now a rootless parasite and bon vivant on a quest to find the perfectly-crafted artisanal cocktail.
This entry was posted in Architecture, The Good Life and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Retro: Barber Shops

  1. Blowhard, Esq. says:

    The barber shop in my neighborhood has an honest-to-goodness wooden Indian. I’ll try to get a picture.

    The Coen Brothers’ “The Man Who Wasn’t There” did a great job evoking the old classic barber shop:


  2. Fun fact: Barber poles can be found outside so-called “salons” in China (often in Western hotels, which is where I saw them), but they are meant to represent — ahem — *services* of a very different kind.


    • Is that right? That’s funny. The barbershops in NYC’s Chinatown use barber poles too, only they’re different than American ones. I’ve got some snaps somewhere. But I wonder if they’re offering extra “services” too.


      • I wouldn’t be surprised. Some of those Chinatown “massage parlors” look awfully sketchy, too. In China, our tour guide specifically told us, “If you really want your hair cut, don’t go in there.”


  3. Sir Barken Hyena says:

    I read somewhere that the barber pole went back to ancient Greece where it represented a phallus and was posted outside brothels. These brothels offered other services too, bathing and grooming type stuff which actually makes a lot of sense paired up with prostitution.


  4. dearieme says:

    I love the cartoon barber on this ad.


  5. dearieme says:

    Here’s a traditional British barber’s pole.


  6. Fabrizio del Wrongo says:

    Tell us: Did you get wildroot cream-oil?


  7. Pingback: Father Knows Best: Eclectica II Edition « Patriactionary

  8. Pingback: Retro Pleasures: A Shave and a Haircut | Uncouth Reflections

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