Posts tagged "grandparents"

The Barber Shop…My first time back in years, pub-2427795083793513, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0

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So I went to a Barber shop over the weekend. It has been a long time since I have been in one. I have to admit that over the years periodically I have been to a few hair salons and such but not a “Man’s” barbershop. Here’s the story.


I remember very vividly as a young boy my Grandpa (Buzz) taking my brother and me to the Barber shop to get our hair cut. It was at Buster’s barber shop on Second Street. We would go in, Pops, David, and me, grabs some chairs that lined the long front glass windows facing the busy street and wait patiently for our turn. I was always the curious one. So while waiting my turn I would look at the hunting magazines or newspapers of the day. Buster’s also carried among many things a line of Zippo lighters hanging on the wall and I would look them over trying to figure out how they got those fancy feathered fishing hooks inside of those lighters. There was also a drink machine. The old school kind where you raised the lid and slide the cold coca cola bottle over to a slot to retrieve it. Seems like it was a dime for a small bottle… When the barber chair was empty and my name was called my Grandpa would help me climb up into it and sit on the booster seat. I was pretty small back then and still in grade school so I needed the extra lift in order for the Barber to cut my hair. The Barber would then drape the cape around me, tie it down and get to work. Back then I didn’t have a say so on what style I could get so it was the standard cut for the time. I think it was called a burr haircut…

The barber would start out with his scissors and clip away. He, and my Grandpa along with the other patrons would carry on with stories and small talk as he went about his art of turning this shaggy headed little kid into a proper looking boy of the day. I can remember even protesting back then at an early age that I didn’t want it that short!… And I can to this day feel those trimmers going over my ears. I knew when he got to that point it was almost over. Trim around my big ears, then the back of my neck, a few whisks of his hand brush around my head and shoulders and then off came the cape. I would slide down off the booster seat, plant my feet on the big metal foot rest. Reach out for Buzz’s hand and jump off. “NEXT”! The Barber would say and the next victim would jump up in the chair. I seem to remember that I never wanted to be first so after my turn at the chair, we were out of there…

Fast forward a few years. Junior High. By then feathered haircuts where in style for young guys like me so we started going to Hair salons. Arnold’s barber shop in particular. A barber shop yes, but in the true sense of the word, it was more of a hair salon. I wasn’t getting my hair cut I was getting it styled. He had a woman in his shop that also cut hair. Nothing wrong with that but it was different than a “Man’s” barber shop. I suppose it’s similar to a Lady’s salon. Where strictly women go to have their hair done. It’s “their” time away from the opposite sex.

High School came and went. The 80’s were here and it was the hair generation. Not the hippie generation of the 70’s but the big hair of the 80’s generation. Rock music, Rock concerts and Aqua Net… And lots of it.

So except for the occasionally trim, barbershops and salons became foreign to me. I grew my hair out and really never looked back…

Sometime in the late 90’s the bald look came in for men. Well, I just couldn’t bring myself to follow that trend so while most guys were gladly trading in their long locks for a Mr. Clean look, I didn’t. I stood my ground. I also didn’t wear flannel. Once again, bucking the entire system as an outsider. The bald head looked great on my friends…but it wasn’t for me.

The Millennium rolled around and the ball dropped but not on me. Still no change for me. Hair today, hair tomorrow.

I have often thought about cutting it on several occasions. Once when my Grandmother died back in 1995 but she said to me before she died she wouldn’t recognize me if I did. I was honored at both of our daughters’ weddings to be able to give them away and I seriously thought about cutting it both times. I had even thought about cutting it for the Father Daughter dance in 2001. But I didn’t.

I guess that deep down inside me it has something to do with giving up or growing up. I hate to give it. Remember what Commander Taggert said in “Galaxy Quest”? “NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER!” In reality, it’s just hair. But it’s mine. It’s me. It’s about me…

I have managed to escape the job market with it because I do wear it up in a hat at work and have pretty much since I have had this job.

Okay, oaky. You’re wondering about this past weekend. So here we go.

Saturday I parked my truck and stepped into the Barber shop. It looked familiar like the ones of old I have been to as a kid. The ground didn’t feel “funny” like it did to the mariner on “Water World”, it felt comfortable. I looked around and sized up the place. Black and white checkered floor. Muscle car garage theme on the walls. Ok, two barbers’ chairs. One chair was empty and only one barber on duty. His chair had a guy in it and the Barber was busy clipping away. “Hi”, I said. “You got time for one more?” To which he politely replied “yea, just grab a chair”. So I grabbed the first chair and sat down by the door.

As I looked around I did take notice that there wasn’t a drink machine in the corner. Nor were there Zippo lighters for sale on the wall either. Neither were there stacks of old magazines or newspapers. So what was there you ask? So much more than that.

It’s hard to explain but will I try. Something that as a young boy I somehow maybe not had recognized but was made fully aware of it now as an adult. The importunacy of a barber shop. Or for the ladies I suppose a hair salon. A soon as I sat down a couple more guys came in after me and grabbed a seat to wait their turn in the chair. The gentleman getting his hair cut in the chair continued talking but not just to the Barber but also now to me… And to the other guys in there. This went on for several minutes…

And then it happened. Just like when the Grinch’s heart melted and he saw the true meaning of Christmas for the first time, the light bulb went off in my head.

The Barber shop is an institution. A tradition. A time honored place were men can meet and talk about the events of the day. It’s a neutral place. No enemies,’ just friends that you may not even know their names. Shortly after I sat down as the one guy in the chair was talking, I noticed before long we all were talking like we had known each other for years. He had worked at Delkers. My Grandparents had also worked at Delkers. Delkers had closed around 1973. So look at all those years that have passed and here we were on a Saturday morning 41 years later talking about the freight elevators in that old building that had long since been torn down. So much in common. So much more than a haircut but it’s the thing that brought us together. The Barber knew my old “stylist” Arnold. He also knew Buster’s barber shop. He spoke kindly of the old timers that used to cut hair too.

We all sat there as the barber was finishing up with is customer. He had out the trimmers going ove the back of the gentleman’s neck and over his ears. Next up was the whisk brush. He gently whisked away the clippings… Then off came the cape. The guy stood up. Checked himself out in the mirror and told the Barber thank you and handed over his money for a job well done. The Barber then spun the chair around toward my general direction and said


I stood up and just

But wait, there’s more!

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Posted by Chuck Gee - June 10, 2014 at 12:13 PM

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HIStory, OURstory, MYstory part 1, pub-2427795083793513, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0


maxinBefore we took far separate paths as adults we were two little toddler boys that only had each other to rely on and to hold on to as our world was turned upside pretty much from the word “go”. I couldn’t have been any older than five  and I clearly remember and can still see that when our “mom” would get pissed off she would shout at us she was going to jump in the “Goddamn river” and she would make us watch as she packed her suitcase and left my little brother  and me all alone in the house to hold each other in the living room floor and cry after begging her to not go…”Please don’t go mommy, we won’t do it again”… whatever “it” was that caused her to flip out…Me, being the oldest I tried to protect my little brother during these fits she had… This was repeated over and over for whatever reason and seemed to come out of nowhere and happened over and over our entire life growing up. We lived about 3 blocks from the river. 531 second street was the address. It was a straight shot up Second Street, thru 3 lights and then the boat ramp. And I all I could think of each time was mom’s car was sinking in the river with her in it. Her hands on the wheel and we caused it…But we weren’t bad kids. Hell, we were little kids. Her reason for doing this I still don’t know to this day. Another thing she did was lock us in separate closets. He (my brother) would be locked in her closet in her bedroom and me in our bedroom closet. I remember time after time sitting in the dark on that trunk full of my deceased father’s clothes, crying and hollering for David asking if he was alright and he also in the dark crying and hollering for me like prisoners trying to communicate with each other though their cells were far apart…I couldn’t even sit up. The closet was full of clothes so I would sit on that trunk huddled up…”mom” had left us again alone in the house to “teach” us a lesson. You think that kind of treatment would be a little hard if forced onto teenage boys or prisoners of war but David and I where little kids. We were barely in Grade school. It always seemed like she was gone for hours each time she left. All we would hear between our wailing would be silence… an empty house, two little boys alone locked in closets begging to be released…

I remember one of my first memories was being told she (mom) was giving my little brother away. A couple showed up. We were in the kitchen. They picked him up and I watched as they took him outside and loaded him into a white four door car. I then sat in a metal high chair and cried not knowing why my little brother was given away but he was gone…she thought it was “cute” that I cried. .”I gave your little brother away” she would say… I didn’t cry … I wailed from my entire being. The couple only took him riding and eventually brought him back. But to this little boy I had thought he was given away because she said she given him away. Growing up, it was a lot of cold mind games played out on us little kids. Everything was our fault. But on the outside it looked like a perfect little world.

When we got older she started locking us in the bathroom. It had an outside lock on the door. I used to try and climb out through the transom at the top of the door. One foot on the tub, one foot on the door knob and I could pull myself up. When I was able to do that, it turned into “get in the car!!” and David I would load up in the back seat. It was usually at night and she would drive to my real Mother’s trailer in behind Green Gables restaurant. She would park out in front of her trailer and tell us to “get out of the car”…”Let her raise you”…”you want that??”  …”DO YOU WANT THAT???!!!!!!” she would scream…of course we would be crying and we would beg her to stop and after awhile she would start the car and we would go home with us promising to not do “it” again whatever “it” was….

I don’t know why we were faced to suffer through those rants of hers over and over as little boys. telenThe photographs we have of us as little boys mostly were staged. Sit this way. Smile. Hold the phone and act like you’re talking on it. Me knowing I wasn’t allowed to even talk on the phone … We weren’t allowed to cross the street until we were about 14 years old. Everything was controlled. I don’t know why she thought it was “ok” to do what she did. It was nothing short of child abuse… I guess today as my brother sits alone in jail and his son is dead and his step mom did what she did, it reminds me of mom. My mom tried to erase all of my birth Mother’s family except for the ones that meant something to her or she could get something out of it. They basically never existed in her eyes. She thought she was a “savior” in her own eyes. Did she do some good in the course of time? Of course she did. So it’s the same shit, different generation. I would also bet if David and I had any other name than “Gee”, like if we had our Mother’s name instead, she would have taken that away from us too. The case in point, my nephew. His family didn’t sign him away but we all were erased and kept back until he, like my brother and I had to do. Come of age and figure out what the hell was the truth and what wasn’t the truth. In December before he was shipped out. He spent four days with his Father. My brother, not the best father in the world but his father just the same. They made amends. Lil David finally knew the real truth. There was the truth, warts and all and hugs and forgiveness… Thank God for that.

It’s a year later and I still run into people that didn’t know Lil” David is my Nephew or that my brother David lost his only son in Afghanistan…and are shockedbdldn of the deception…Am I shocked? Of course not. I have been through this before. Like I said earlier. It was just a couple of generations earlier that my brother and I had experienced the same crap. So I felt his pain, I feel our pain…all the years of me suppressing what we went through is no longer buried… I can’t forget the things my brother has done as an adult…But the little boy inside of him and me need each other.

Setting the record straight.

part 2 in a few…


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Posted by Chuck Gee - March 22, 2013 at 2:29 PM

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