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Roving Around

My first family haircut pleasing, but scary

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Bob Allen can’t manage a smile and grits his teeth during his first family haircut by daughter-in-law Ginger Allen, who has had lots of practice on her husband Jimmy. The three granddaughters — Ruthie, Maggie and Mae — gave raving approval of the results. Contributed photo by Jimmy Allen
Bob Allen can’t manage a smile and grits his teeth during his first family haircut by daughter-in-law Ginger Allen, who has had lots of practice on her husband Jimmy. The three granddaughters — Ruthie, Maggie and Mae — gave raving approval of the results. Contributed photo by Jimmy Allen
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Many things about our routines under quarantine are much slower paced, but my hair and beard growth is not one of them. Weeks ago I knew I needed to go get a haircut, but I hesitated when thinking about the chances of catching the possibly deadly coronavirus germ at the barber’s. So, I put it off.

Soon after that came a state-wide mandate for barber shops to close during this severe virus outbreak. I have never had my hair cut by anyone except a professional barber, and I’m particular about the way it’s cut.

Daughter-in-law Ginger has been cutting my son Jimmy’s hair for many years, as well as a daughter’s or two, so she offered to cut mine. She usually cuts Jimmy’s hair quite short, so I was not sure about the offer. This would be a first for me, but then I got to thinking about how I really had no other options. So I made a deal. If she’d let me have a handheld mirror, I was willing to give it a try. She agreed.

Our plan was to cut my hair on the patio right outside my doorway and on Saturday — the warmest day (in the low 80s) we have had since last October.

It was indeed a beautiful day, and I enjoyed being outside. When Ginger and I saw several teenagers riding bicycles spread apart nicely to allow plenty of space for cars to pass by on the narrow street, I thought how nice it would be to ride a bike again, but I had already given mine away to son, Todd, to get cleaned up and in good operating shape after sitting in my garage for several years.

After thinking back to my earlier years (1937-38) I should correct the first part of this column to add: I did let a neighbor cut my hair when we moved from our farm house into my grandfather-built bungalow about a mile away just outside Wenonah, New Jersey.

The close-by neighbor only charged a quarter for a male haircut. This was fine and we loved the bargain, but I didn’t like the way he pulled the outer rim of my ears back when cutting around them.

He didn’t have a shop for this work — only his dining room. It wasn’t long before we learned of a licensed barber in downtown Wenonah named Shuster. I tried him, and he did a good job for only 40 cents. The slight difference was worth it, and he gave you a candy sucker on a stick each time.

I must tell you this: My new friend who lived two doors away from our bungalow was Dick Maynard. He also got his haircut at Shuster’s, but because Dick was 14, was charged a bit more — like 65 cents. We waited in the outer room for each other and then rode our bikes home together. My mother was pleased with the haircuts, and I didn’t have to worry about my ears being pinned back during these haircuts.

So far I haven’t paid Ginger for my haircut, and she jokingly warned me that sometimes you get what you pay for. But she did a great job. I was surprisingly pleased with the result.

I think it’s time to fill you in on another development. Jimmy and Ginger, whose home is nearby to mine, invited me to move into their basement apartment back in December. They offered me a large living room and kitchen, a bedroom, and my own bathroom. I gratefully accepted their offer.

The move has worked well for me and I think for Jimmy and Ginger, too. I help out when I can, and they provide the living quarters and daily breakfast and supper. Luckily, Meals On Wheels called offering me a midday meal five days a week, with delivery once a week on Mondays and it has worked out fine.

But because of the stay-at-home order by Gov. Roy Cooper, the noon-time meals delivery has now been changed to delivery on Tuesday only with a week of frozen meals. Luckily I have a freezer in my quarters.


Bob Allen, publisher emeritus of The Wake Weekly, invites comments at 984-235-7294 or robertwallen29@gmail.com.

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