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Old Photo Brought Back to Life by htflatnc


Old Photo Brought Back to Life

The blue Buick pulled up to the stop sign at a T-intersection. Across from it was a small strip of shops – bait and tackle store, a Chinese takeout place, and a barber shop. The pole out front was spinning and it was late morning, almost noon.

"Are you ready for a haircut, Burt? It’s almost getting out of control," Mr. White said.

Burt answered as though he was reluctant, but he was in fact both thrilled and relieved. The previous week, which was the first week of summer vacation, he had thought about stopping into one of the three barber shops he passed on his way home from working out at the YMCA gym. His father would drop him off at the gym in the morning before going to work, and Burt would ride home on his bike. But now, the family was down at the beach for a couple of weeks.

"Yeah, I guess so," Burt said. And Burt wondered whether he would have the nerve to go through with it.

Mr. White pulled the Buick up in front of the barber shop. Looking through the large glass window past the glare from the intense sun, it was obvious that nobody was in the shop. Opening the doors to the Buick, both Mr. White and Burt got out of the car. "Dan’s Barber Shop," the stenciled red lettering on the front window read. In smaller lettering down at the bottom were the words "Military Haircut Specialists." Burt thought that only natural since they were just down the road from a large Marine Corps base and air station.

The two were announced as they entered by the tinkling of a bell on the door and the blast of air conditioning from the unit hanging above the door. A tall man walked out of the back and he had to be the barber as he had on a blue barber’s vest with his name entered in script "Dan".

Burt was taking a quick survey of the shop. Concrete floors painted blue with a mixture of sand and cut hair on it. There were two large mirrors covering the walls one in front of and one behind the two barber’s chairs. The two barber’s chairs were upholstered in black and probably the original upholstery as they were well worn. A row of red upholstered chairs for customers was beneath the mirror facing the barber’s chair and along the wall with the glass window. The fourth wall had a Coke vending machine with a crate for empties, and two posters with different types of military haircuts. Burt was thinking "How could you have two posters – 16 pictures – with different types of military haircuts?" A door led to a back room from which the barber had entered.

"May I help one of you gentlemen?" the barber asked.

After a bit of hesitation from Burt who was reconnoitering the bare-bones barber shop, Mr. White said, "Go on, Burt. You know how this works." Burt got up in the chair while Mr. White went over and sat down in one of the red-upholstered barber shop chairs.

The barber took a white pin-striped cotton cape and draped it around Burt. A paper strip was wrapped around Burt’s neck and pinned. Burt’s shirt collar was adjusted and a small towel inserted inside the collar. The cape was then closed and fastened.

"OK, young man, how short do you want your hair cut?" is the question with which this military barber started every haircut. The salutation would change depending on the customer, but the question was always the same. It was a portent of a barber who liked cutting hair short because that’s how men’s hair should be. And the barber made no exception for himself since he had a short crewcut - #2 on top and bare clippers for the back and sides. An easy practical haircut is what the barber had and liked to deliver to all his customers.

The air conditioning was blasting away and making it impossible for Mr. White to hear anything being said by his son and the barber. The barber, Dan, thought he had the situation pretty well sized up: Long-haired, reluctant son and clean-cut, executive father. All Dan’s sympathies were with the father.

The barber was combing Burt’s blond hair that was already noticeably blonder after only three days at the beach. The hair upon entry was just touching the top of the ear, but after being combed covered half his ear. The bangs had been at the top of the eye brows, but once combed reached the top of his nose. The hair in back had not reached his collar, but now touched his collar once combed. The boy needed a haircut and he was in the right spot as far as Dan was concerned.

Burt replied, "My father wants me to get my head shaved."

Dan asked, "Do you mean all clipped off?"

Burt answered, "That and then lathered and shaved."

Dan had not expected this at all, but was delighted to be making such a transformation on this young customer. He had thought short taper would be as far as it went, but he had been completely wrong. Dan looked at Mr. White and nodded his head and asked in a loud voice, "OK?"

Mr. White, who had not heard a word of what had transpired, simply nodded his head also and replied, "OK."

Mr. White was developing a headache from the racket of the air conditioner. Besides, there was a Chinese restaurant next door and fresh Chinese seafood was something Mr. White really liked. So he said he was going to go next door and pick something up for lunch. And as he was leaving, Mr. White said to Dan, "It’s gotten way out of control. So knock it back good so it won’t be a mess."

Dan thought Mr. White was joking and chuckled at his last remark as he was firing up the Oster 76s. With his left hand, Dan gripped Burt’s forehead with a vice-like grip and pulled his head back so that Burt was staring up at the white tiled ceiling. This was something new and Burt liked it and began to smile. Burt then felt the steel blades of the Oster clippers rapidly munching through his hair, but he did not see any of it falling since it was hitting the floor behind him. He also could not see himself in the mirror and he had wanted to see himself being shorn. In less than 20 seconds and with only four swipes, Dan had denuded the top of Burt’s head. Dan quickly and agilely pushed Burt’s head over to the right and with three strokes parallel to those on top denuded the left side of Burt’s head. Only another 10 seconds had passed. When Dan pushed Burt’s head down, Burt got his first brief glance of himself in the mirror. There was still hair at his sideburn and immediately around the ear, but the rest of the hair on top and the left side were clear cut. It seemed that not even stumps were left since Burt’s hair was so light. Burt could see some of his severed blond locks now as they had landed in his lap. Burt felt his chin digging into his chest and the force of Dan’s hand and arm were no match for Burt’s neck muscles. Burt’s discomfort did not last long, however, as with four quick sweeps of the Oster clippers, the back of Burt’s head matched the top and left side. Dan also took the clippers up the left edge of Burt’s hairline and sideburn. Quickly after, Burt felt Dan’s hand atop his head and pulled it to left and with three swipes had almost ended any blond hair being atop Burt’s head. There was just the right sideburn and hairline edge to take care of. And as quickly as that, Dan turned off the clippers and hung them on the rack. Burt could now turn his head to the mirror and see that there was almost nothing left.

"Go ahead. Do it. It’s an uncontrollable urge," Dan said breaking the silence that had occurred during the shearing.

"What’s that?" Burt asked, still in a slight daze from having his head pushed in so many ways so quickly.

"Rub your head. You know you want to do it," Dan said.

So with permission granted, Burt ran his hand over his head. His hair was cut very, very short – shorter than he had ever had it cut before. Burt liked the texture of the haircut. He was admiring himself in the mirror as well. So that’s what he looked like under that mop. Actually he thought he looked more impressive than with the mop. Burt was struck by how much he looked like in the picture of his father when he was his age. The picture that had introduced the notion in Burt’s mind to shave his head was a photo of his father with his grandfather standing behind him with a straight razor. His father was sitting on a chair with his legs strattled across the back of a chair sitting in the garden behind his grandfather’s house. His father was grinning from ear to ear obviously enjoying the head shaving he was receiving. Burt’s grandfather had finished shaving the top of his father’s head and was working on the back and sides. Burt had seen the picture for the first time last Christmas when he was at his grandparents’ house. He found a small wooden box filled with photographs of his father growing up. The pictures had helped Burt understand his father and see the ways they were similar – and different.

"So what do you think?" Dan asked.

"I like it. The way it looks and the way it feels are great," Burt replied.

Dan: "Are you ready for the next step? One step or two steps?"

Burt: "Pardon?"

Dan: "Do you want one pass with the razor with the grain or two passes one with and one against the grain?"

Burt: "OK. I’m obviously ignorant about all of this. What is the difference as far as the results?"

Dan: "With one pass, there is a little bit of stubble left, but shorter than it is now. With two passes, it will be clean as a whistle. There is possibility of irritation and ingrown hairs with two passes, however."

Burt: "Let’s go with two passes."

Dan: "Excellent choice."

Dan went over to the formica counter and picked up a can of Foamy shaving cream. He began shaking it, and squirted it directly onto Burt’s head. He began spreading it around. Burt was looking as though his head was covered in snow. He looked at himself in the mirror and laughed to himself.

Burt: "That was some haircut you gave me – pushing my head this way and that and running the clippers over my head rapidly."

Dan: "You have now had a U. S. Marine Corps induction haircut. I cut those thousands of times when I worked down at Parris Island."

Burt: "Would you lather them up and shave them?"

Dan: "No. There wasn’t any time. We could not take more than two minutes for any haircut including the time to get in and out of the chair."

Burt: "Wow, you did have to be fast."

Dan: "Was I too rough on you?"

Burt: "No, but it wasn’t like any haircut or anything else I’d ever experienced."

Dan: "You aren’t the first to say that."

Dan began stroking the straight razor over Burt’s head. He started at the crown and scraped down as he pushed Burt’s head forward. He took ten strokes with the razor in the back versus four with the clippers. Dan went back to the crown and began stroking forward and cleaned off the top. Dan pushed Burt’s head once again to the left and then to the right to finish shaving the sides of Burt’s head.

Dan warmed up some water and soaked a towel and then wrung it out. He covered Burt’s head with the towel and cleaned off the remnants of shaving cream.

"Take a feel of that," Dan said.

Burt ran his hand over his head. He was very white skinned. The sun had never penetrated Burt’s mop so there was a very distinguishable tan line. Sun screen for the rest of the beach visit was a definite requirement. Burt didn’t want to wear a cap though – first, he didn’t like wearing a cap; and second, he wanted to show off his newly shaved head.

Burt: "It’s definitely shorter than with the clippers, but it’s still not smooth. I think I’d definitely like to try it smooth."

Dan needed no further encouragement. He took the can of Foamy shaving cream again and lathered Burt’s head. Burt took the straight razor and began at the front hair line and took the razor back over Burt’s head. After the first stroke, Dan felt the area the razor had passed over. It was smooth. So he took the second stroke slowly. Dan had finished the top of Burt’s head. He again ran his hand over the top of Burt’s head and felt a couple of spots that could use the razor’s attention once again. After giving those spots the proper consideration, Dan started working on the right side of Burt’s head stroking upwards and removing the microscopic bits the first pass had left.

About this time, Burt noticed his father putting a brown bag in the back seat of the Buick outside. Mr. White then turned and came back through the door of the barber shop. He was more overcome by the sight than the blast of the air conditioning. There was his son sitting in the barber’s chair with a pile of blond hair on the floor behind the barber’s chair and a smaller pile in Burt’s lap. Burt’s head was also partially covered with shaving cream and Dan, the barber, was busy removing that shaving cream from the back of Dan’s head.

Mr. White asked Burt, "What have you done? You’re getting your head shaved?"

Dan: "Burt said you wanted me to shave his head. I asked you if that was OK. And you nodded and said OK."

Burt: "I saw the picture of you last Christmas and really got me to thinking about shaving my head. How did you like having grandpa shave your head?"

Mr. White: "I enjoyed it. Every summer from when I was 12 to 17, he would shave my head. But that was then."

Dan was finishing up on the second pass of Burt’s head shave. He felt on the back and sides and again there were a few spots that needed additional attention. Taking care of these quickly, he then said to Burt, "Feel that and tell me what you think."

Burt ran his hand over his pale scalp and broke out into a smile. "Well, I guess I’ll have to be a late bloomer as far as head shaves, then. Here, dad, feel how smooth it is. Is this how smooth grandpa got it?"

Mr. White walked up to the chair and ran his hand over Burt’s head. It felt like soft leather. "It feels very nice indeed. And your grandfather could never get mine that smooth."

Burt: "I really like it. I hope this is a keeper."

Mr. White: "That’s up to you."

Burt: "I’d like to shave it every day we’re down here at the beach to see how I like it over time and also see if I have any skin irritation problems. Do you want to do it for me, like grandpa did for you, or do you want me to shave my own head?"

Mr. White: "We’ll see. But whichever way it is, we’ll need to stop at the drug store and buy you shaving cream, a razor, after shave and sun screen."

Dan undid the cape from around Burt’s neck and gave his head one more rub. "That was one of the best haircuts I’ve given in a long time."

Burt and Mr. White left the barber shop with Burt as a happy customer. "Good call, dad, about the haircut. I don’t know if I would have done it on my own."






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