When I was a kid, the old man used to wake me up early every other Saturday morning and scoot me out the front door.

Then he'd march me the two-and-a-half blocks to the barber shop. Barber shops were a lot different back then. They weren't the ''Cut 'N Curl'' yuppie, hair stylist places they have today. No, they were just what the twirling candy-cane looking pole out front implied -- a no-frills joint, not usually any bigger than the space it took for a couple of chairs where the male members of the tribe gathered to discuss sports, news and politics of the day, and to get their ears lowered.

Like I said, John E. Stiles would get me up and at 'em no later than 8am on those days it was time for a haircut, which turned out to be every two weeks by the old man's calendar. We'd parade to Glenn's on the corner of Lincoln and North streets (one of those severe, less than 90 degree intersections). The place wasn't one of them converted store fronts, either. Glenn's was a small, one story building, built precisely for the purpose, shaped like a pie slice, so's it fit right on that corner and no place else on Earth.

Glenn was a guy -- you know I'm not really even sure there was a guy named Glenn. I never heard Pop ever address the man by name and that was long before the touchy-feely practice of people wearing those silly little pins with their name and rank on 'em. And it was also long before people had to humiliate themselves by smiling at everybody who came in the door with an anything but sincere, ''Hi, My name is So-and-so, how may I help you.''

So, come to think of it, there might not even have been a Glenn. But, that was the name on the outside of the place as I recall, anyway. As I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself once again, barbers back then were guys who wore one of those white, doctor-looking tops over a T-shirt and there was always a long black, tapered comb sticking about four inches out of his chest pocket. Barbers always smelled like lilacs and alcohol. There was another distinct smell in barber shops of my day. It was a kinda' antiseptic odor that came from that purple solution they used to soak their combs and scissors in. Funny how I remember it all so well.

I used to hate those Saturday treks to Glenn's. Well, actually I just hated going to the barber, any barber. It was nothing personal against Glenn or anything. Back then a guy's hair was something sacred, something to be proud of. Most everybody but me used to grow their hair as long as they could, let the sideburns get halfway down the cheeks, and use enough grease and oil to fit a battleship through a lock and dam. They always carried two or three combs each and were constantly flipping the front into a pompadour, just one more thing they don't have now-a days, and, come to think of it, I doubt if there's a comparable term in today's lingo to do a proper description justice.

But the coolest thing of all was the back of the head, where everybody tried to out-do each other by building what we will call, for the purposes here of a family newspaper, a ''D.A.''

But, not with my father. He would always situate himself right dead in front of the chair while I was getting my hair cut and would chime in with a ''Left it a little long there on top, didn'tcha pal?'' every so often.

Then, when the Beatles finally landed in the winter of 1964, the only thing that seemed to change in our approach was the bottom fell out of the hair cream market and we simply let it grow and didn't comb it any more. So, as you can imagine, barber shops quickly became a thing of the past, much like campus rebellions and male chauvinist pigs these days. It suddenly isn't ''cool'' looking cool anymore. And from the looks of some of the present day haircuts I've seen, you can certainly tell that the real barber shop is truly a thing of the past.

Now people get their hair ''styled,'' at places with names like ''The Lion's Mane,'' ''Suzie's Twist & Trim,'' ''Cute Curl'' and a thousand other spots where they look at you with a blank stare when you tell the woman (another thing that's changed since my day) that ''No, I don't want my hair shampooed, feathered and blow-dried. I just want a haircut.''

I found a real barber recently, after a long and exhaustive search. And from the looks of things, it's the real deal. You know you're in a real barber shop because there's usually just two words, only one of which is Pepsi or Coke, on the sign. It's almost always a man's shortened first name -- Jim's, Joe's, Bob's, Skip's (well maybe not Skip's). When you walk in the proprietor is either cutting hair or sitting in the barber's chair reading a newspaper. Either that or one of the male magazines that are spread randomly about the place.

That's another way to tell you're in a real barber shop. The reading material is usually nothing more taxing than a lot of naked women and there's no teasers on the cover about ''50 Things He Wishes You'd Say To Him In Bed.'' Real men don't like a lot of words in their reading. And I haven't got the slightest idea what any of those 50 things might be. Looking back on it all now, I guess my determination not to get a haircut all those years ago contributed to making the barber shop almost obsolete.

I was back home the other day. The building that use to house Glenn's is still there but now it's ''Karen's Kut & Kurl'' beauty salon, or some other such establishment. Ya' know, if I'd have just been a little bit more enthusiastic back when Pops dragged me out of bed those Saturday mornings of yesteryear ... Nah!

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online June 21, 2000

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