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Six Bucks and Just Stuck ! by John Nelson


It was late in the summer of 1978. For years my parents would go on a trip at the end of the summer and leave my brother and I with our aunts, my dad's two younger sisters. We lived in Long Beach CA. One aunt lived in the San Fernando Valley, the other in the state of Utah.

My brother and I were fine one at a time, but together too much trouble. Neither aunt would take both of us for a month at the end of the summer. So it would work like this. One of us flew on a plane to Utah and spent summer time with aunt Jane, the other driven to the valley to spend the time with aunt Kathy. We'd rotate summers. I was now 11 and my brother 9. We'd done this five years now. From 1972 to 1978.A win win for my brother and I and my parents. They got piece and quiet, my brothe and I got away from each other.

The only ones that didn't win out were my aunts. I just think they couldn't say no to my parents. My brother was a mischievous brat, I was a non stop ask questions talk,and talk to adults kind of kid. Basically we drove people nuts. Two of us together was more than one could take. We worked as a team to really drive anyone just nuts. No wonder my parents got rid of us for a month out of the year.

My brother and I looked nothing alike. He was darker skinned and I was lighter. He had brown eyes and I had green. We both had big mops of straight light brown hair over the ears. It was the 70's so every one had hair like this, just about everyone. Not to brag, but we were pretty cute kids. Seeing old pictures now I am a little surprised we were as cute of kids as we were. Maybe that made us more trouble to deal with??

The summer of 1978 put me at 11 and ready to go into 6th grade. In the U.S. at that time it was the last year of elementary school. This summer was my turn to go to the valley. My dad would drive me out for the 2 hour drive, talk to my aunt for a short while , say goodbye and leave me for a month. My aunt had one small daughter about four years old at this time.

What my parents didn't realize until years later was my aunt Kathy wouldn't really keep us the whole month. I can't really blame her looking back. What she'd do was have us stay the bulk of the summer at my uncles parents house. These were her inlaws. They were very nice people named Walt and Mitty. My uncle had a much younger brother named Nate in high school. He still lived at home with Walt and Mitty. Nate basically was the one who watched me all summer. I would hang around with him and his long haired cigarette smoking teenage friends. Great influence on an 11 year old!
It would wind up being Nate who would make me get a crew cut at the end of the summer.

I had a blast hanging around him and his friends. He had a cool house he lived in with his parents. A modest middle class house, but with fish tanks, birds, dogs, and a pool. Also he had a little V.W.Beetle, maybe from around 1969. Beat up beige thing. I spent the summer swimming and mostly hanging around Nate and his high school friends. Some of the time at my aunts house most of the time at Nate's house. The summer played out nicely and mid September was soon here.

This summers end would be the true shock of my life to this point in my 11 years of life. One day Nate said your aunt gave me six bucks to get your haircut before your dad picks you up next week. Wait!! What??
A haircut! My hair was really long and way down my neck. The bangs where so long they were getting in my eyes too. Well I guess it made since, just a trim.

I hated haircuts. I had these two ears that looked like someone took their fingers, pinched the tips in and let go , but the ear tips stayed folded in. I always had long hair covering my ears because of this. The right ear was worse it had two pinches in the tip. Haircuts always nerve me up good. Also it was the seventies and nearly no boys had short hair, never ever a buzz cut!

Nate took me into a small one chair barber shop that was very beat up. Way kind of at the end of town. There were two big wood steps to walk up. The window were dirty and the floor dusty. The old barber was a big 50's something guy. Short gray hair and a little fat. He was sitting watching TV when we came in. My heart was pounding and I felt week. My aunt had given Nate 6$ for the hair cut, six one dollar bills. The barber said who's first?? Oh, only the kids getting a haircut! I only have 4 bucks though. Four bucks I thought! I saw the six bucks. What was Nate saying? He'd taken some of the $$. The barber said sorry a haircut was 5$. I was now in the chair caped and clipped tight. The barber pointed to the sign with his prices. Then he said IT!! A CREW CUT IS ONLY FOUR BUCKS. OOH NOO!

My heart was pounding my mouth dry. Nate just said ok give him one of those then and I'll be at the store next door. Most likely buying something with the rest of the money. Nate left. Here I was with the barber alone. I kept yelling no ,no! I tried to run out of the chair. He just stood in front of me and pushed me gently back into that chair. There is started, that clipper motor. I was doomed. I was starting to cry. Hair was falling all around. Cool air hit my scalp and ears. I was horrified. I reach one hand out of the Cape and felt the side of my head. Skin, what skin around my ear! After 10 minutes Nate came back and said wow that's short!! I didn't know the crew cut would be that short!! I'd have to face the start of 6th grade next week looking like this.




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