From the time I could first remember, my dad cut my hair. From about two-years old and up to age 13 my Okie dad was my exclusive hair stylist.
My dad would have me sit on a stack of Los Angeles telephone directories and Yellow pages all piled on a dining chair he sat out in our wash machine room. He would spread out his scissors, comb, and hand squeezed manual barber clippers on top of my mom’s Maytag washer like a surgeon ready for brain surgery. And with an old bed sheet pin the sheet around my neck. Hopefully to catch most of the hair clippings. This was quick and dirty work. Barbering at its amateurish. Barbering as only he knew how. Zip, clip, snip, and it all came off. Leaving me with just enough hair atop to oil down and make a part. The sides and back was almost as bare as police detective Kojak’s. “Who loves ya’ baby? Do I get a sucker pops?
However early in that process of elimination, I decided at about age five or six to cut my own hair. I guess it was when I saw my dad’s barber scissors laying out on the kitchen counter and I grabbed them and with little thought I proceeded to whack off all hair in the front of my large head. Giving me that ‘head hit the fan’ look. Why bother to comb one’s hair when I could just get rid of it. It worked for Yul Brynner didn’t it? But as a result my Uncle Bat started calling me Butch. And it stuck for longer than I wanted.
Then as my social conscience evolved in junior high I went to the barber for the first time at about age 14. A barber shop in an arcade near the Five and Dime store. There were four barbers all with their white barbering frocks ready to trim and buzz. However, none of them sang in a barber shop quartet. Nor did they wash and blow dry. But they did shave my neck with hot shave cream and towel it off with a nice warm wet towel.
In keeping with trends I had the barber give me a flat-top. Some called it a Princeton. The top of my head was shaved flat down to the scalp. Leaving the sides long and swept back. All kept in place with a jar of Butch wax. An orangish waxy goo to keep the top hair standing in place and sides combed straight back over the ears. Straight back and looking like the front fender of a VW Beetle. But as I soon found out this flat top configuration required constant maintenance. Stupid hair kept growing and began to quickly look like a front lawn not mowed for weeks. And did I mention never paying my dad for my haircut. I had to pay these barber guys a buck-25. And to keep it looking good I needed a cut and trim at least every two weeks. Where does a fourteen-year old with no job or allowance get that kind of money? My Okie parents didn’t believe in allowances for their children. Plus my dad didn’t know how to trim and style my new trendy haircut. None the less, he didn’t like the long swept back hair on the sides. All he knew to do was to just buzz it all off. But anyway, I was able to keep it trimmed every three or four weeks. Looking like the Okie goober that I was.
All in all learning a lesson. You gotta pay for what you get. And money didn’t come easy in those days. I finally convinced my dad to put me on the payroll and pay me a dollar allowance each week. But thinking back my dad’s hair always looked neat and trimmed. Evidently he must have gone to the barber himself because none of we kids and my mom didn’t know how to cut hair. Well, if that don’t beat all I ever saw, my Okie dad often proclaimed.