Main Street Barber: A Eulogy

I woke yesterday thinking I really needed a haircut. For over 25 years that thought has been an automatic in the course of things. Just stop by my barber in the Village of Kinderhook (NY) in my daily travels … git ‘r done. He died last October. I can’t do that anymore. Next week is Thanksgiving, well over a month after my friend, Angelo Scott confided in me he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He passed before his oncology appointment at the V.A., I haven’t had a haircut since.

My father-in-law and son have. The latter has been going to Scotti his short 16 years and the former knew him for most of his long and prosperous life. My son has to get his haircut as a part of the dress code of a former military academy. My father-in-law has been blessed with a crop of hair that should be the envy of any middle-aged man who’s hair has thinned or has departed all together. I’ll likely visit Scotti’s relatives, who still maintain a practice on that other Main St., now that Scotti is gone. That’s where my father-in-law goes now. Some Guy (wink).

You might say that my hair is unique, to say the least (see below).

Scotti never balked at my wild twenty-something Orange Afro when I first started going to him. His uncle Frank was in the biz on that other Main St. and he had to be in his nineties before health issues made his tenure a tenuous terror to visitors from a far. It was a pretty easy cut, even for Frank’s unsteady hands. He once cried, “I need you Red!”, when I stopped to greet a friend getting the service. I like to think the ease of my hair cut furthered my conversations with Scotti over the years. But he was a pro, I don’t know how he handled others.

I know Scotti was in the army sometime after the Korean police action and before the Vietnam intervention. He got me started in my first business in 1995. A retail computer store. A college buddy working with me the first week snorted about the stereo type you can imagine for a second or third generation Italian American. I loved Scotti’s almost open, plain (?), Hawaiian shirts. Vikings have hairy chests too.  My hair is very dry.

He was above us for three years before we moved across the street to a bigger place. We watched the nineties go by in a magical village that had everything . . .  a bank, a bagel shop, lawyers, retail, pharmacy, real estate, a corporate office over the post office. A book store and a rock shop didn’t even round out the other fascinating businesses tucked in historic barns or epic modern places in the hills. I played a character in a noir novel when I shut the shop door and went up the steps to the Old Dutch Inn, a veritable Cheers. It used to have so much more over the years, yeah . . .  Ichabod Crane stuff.

As the years went by, we reminisced about the time I got him to put his coffee down and have a catch with the FEDEX guy on the melting lawn of the House of History.  Everyone played football behind that place back in my day, back in his. Every once in a while, when I was in a raging moment at the Old Dutch Inn,  I’d often look across the dim lit room full of music, people and cheer. There was Scotti suddenly, having a quick chat and drink. I think he got up earlier than I did in those days. He just smiled and shook his head at those antics. He never stayed long.

After he came out of the Bagel Shop he’d toss what seemed a third of a steaming cup of coffee into a snow bank in his black trench coat if it was below freezing. While we were banging our heads on modems, memory and constant manic needs of the general public, he was kind of kicked back. Watching the village life and the tee-vee. Who ever came into to chat. He must have known everyone. While he didn’t mind winning on the horses, he was just giving the average guy a service that allowed them to come and clean up their rotten face or head. The hang over stories must have been incredible. I’ve heard many.

This story will continue. I need a new barber and refuse to go to a stop and chop. I’m going to visit my main streets and see what I find. I’m no longer not sleeping at night, because something in my sub-conscious says you are now forced to change something that has always been there. For my Haircut it was Scotti. I’ll share the parts of him I knew and I’m sure many will share with me. It’s just a matter of time.

Thanks for stopping by . . . I’ll let you know where I stop by, here and again.

I found a place today.