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1950s in the 1970s by Thebarbered1
I found a story about a year or so ago, and I remember really enjoying reading it. Recently, I've been trying to find it again,. but unfortunately, without success. I've looked everywhere, but found nothing. I don't know who the writer was, whether it was a true or fictitious story, and I can't even remember if the writer wrote it as the person in the story, or from another perspective. What I've decided to do is re-write this story, trying to keep it as near to the original as I can remember it. I've amended it a little, and have added a little bit on the end), and with me (I've used my own name, David) as the person in the story:
It was the mid 1970s, my name is David and I was an average 15 year old boy. I went to a fairly regular secondary school, which we'd just returned to after the summer holiday. I kept myself, very much as all the other boys. Shirt collars were bigger, and hair was generally over the ears and over the collar at the back.
I enjoyed many of the things the others did – football, music, and generally, just being a teenager. I did however, have an extra fascination – one, the others didn't have. I was interested in all things 1950s, and had this strange desire to act out, and to live the 1950s. Obviously though, this was something I just couldn't do – or so I thought.
Several of my friends knew about this, but on this occasion, I was talking to my form teacher, Mr Peters, after he'd heard about it. He was a young man, in his early 30s, and he said to me "It really does interest you, the 1950s, does it?”. "Yes Sir”, I replied. "What is it about the fifties that interests you?” he enquired. "I don't know, it just does”. I answered. "You'd really like to have a go at living the 1950s would you?” he said back, to which I said that I would. He thought for a few moments, and then said "I think I might just be able to help you here you know. Do you know where Netheringtons is, just up the road?” I nodded. Netheringtons was a large clothes shop about half a mile up the road. It supplied all our school uniforms. "Meet me outside it at 4.00 tomorrow afternoon” he said, to which I answered "Yes. OK. Thank you Sir”.
The following day, a Friday, I got there about ten to four, and waited outside. After a few minutes, he appeared. He smiled and said to follow him inside. "I've spoken to Mr Netherington, and he has something you might like” he declared. As we opened the door and walked in, a bell rang out. An gentlemen appeared. He was about 60. "Ah, I've been expecting you” he said. He looked at me and smiled saying "… and you must be David, who's interested in the fifties?”. I said yes. "Come through to the back with me. I've got something I think you'll like” he said to both of us.
We went through and in the corner, there were some high shelves with big cardboard boxes on. He got some footsteps, climbed up and got them down. "Haven't had these down for ages” he said, wiping the dust off the top of them. He waved us both over, and opening up the boxes, said "I didn't think I'd be opening these again. They're old stock, including some uniforms - Clothes from the 50s”. He went to the first box, and took some out. They were still folded and wrapped up. First to come out where a couple of grey shirts. The first thing I noticed about them were the 1950s style collars. This was followed by a couple of dark blue jumpers. After that, came a couple of pairs of grey trousers and then some shorts. He then turned to the other box, and pulled out a blazer. It was quite similar, but you could see some slight differences from those we had at school now. He followed these with a couple of school ties. Very narrow, not like the wider ties we had now.
Within a very short time, all the clothes were laid out in front of me and I was looking at them, wide-eyed. They were all amazing. Suddenly, he smiled and said to me "Would you like them?” I was puzzled. "Well, we've no use for them now have we?” he continued. "Yes please” I said excitedly. "Try them on then, see if they fit you, and what you think” he said. "What? Now? here?” I asked. "Yes, why not” he replied - "Yh, go on” Mr Peters then said.
Taking a pair of the trousers, a shirt and a jersey, I went behind a dressing screen in the corner of the room and got changed.
They did seem to fit….. well, after calling out for a second shirt and trying that one on anyway. Before I knew where I was, I was back in the 1950s – well…. Nearly.
They were both looking at me in deep thought, before Mr Netherington looked at Mr Peters and said to him "Do you know what? There's something not quite right yet”…… Mr Peters asked what's that, and he replied "It's his hair”. He continued "The perfect 1950s schoolboy…. except the hair”
I don't think he was trying to catch me out, and was taking it I'd be keen, with it giving me the full effect., but as Mr Peters looked back at me, he said enthusiastically "you could go over the road, don't you think David?”. I hadn't really thought about this, and suddenly felt unsure, but then thought to myself that as I'd gone this far……..”. Nervously, I said "errrrr, yes, could do”. "Come on then, let's do it” he said. Mr Netherington looked on, smiling, and said to us "Before you go, here's a couple more things you can take”. He gave me a large carrier bag, to add to the one Mr Peters had already put the other clothes and my present day clothes in. Mr Peters, smiling, said, "you've certainly got a bit of history there”. I thanked Mr Netherington, and we left the shop and crossed the road outside.
Right opposite Netheringtons was "Robertsons – Traditional Barber Shop”. It was a warm, sunny afternoon, and outside, the barbers pole was spinning away, and the two main doors were open and you could clearly see inside. As we walked in, there were pictures of short haircuts on the wall, together with adverts for hair creams and other products. There was a single chair, facing a large mirror. There was a table next to it, and on the wall next to the mirror, there was hanging up, a multitude of haircutting implements – scissors, clippers, attachments etc. Mr Robertson, the barber, who had short grey hair, was sitting there reading the newspaper. As he got up to greet us, he suddenly noticed me, and surveyed me with surprise. Mr Peters told me to sit down a moment, and went and explained to Mr Robertson about my interest in the fifties and what had just happened over the road.
After a few moments, Mr Robertson, came to me, put his hand on my shoulder, and said "Right lad, you're interested in the 1950s, and a 1950s haircut are you?”. I nodded nervously. He thought to himself for a moment. "Wait here”, he said "I know how I can make this even more 50s authentic for you”, and went out into the back room. Mr Peters went and sat down in the waiting area, and watched with interest.
After a couple of minutes, he returned. He had put on one of those old nylon barbers jackets. It was dark blue with buttons up the side on his left shoulder. He smiled at me, but then said in a more direct voice "Right David, the fifties. OK then. From here on, you will do exactly as you're told, you'll only speak when you're spoken to, and you will refer to me as Sir – that's how it used to be. Is that clear?”. I was a bit shocked by this, but replied stutteringly "Yes Sir”.
"OK then, up on the chair”.
As I sat down. I turned to him, but he, without saying anything, looked at me very sternly, so I turned back and looked straight ahead again. He picked up a white pinstriped cape from the hook on the wall next to him and draped it over me. He tucked it in all around, followed at the back by a large neck tissue.
He had a twinkle in his eye as he said to me "What I'm going to do is give you a nice haircut, like I used to have as a boy, what do you say? I had a worried look on my face, but before I could respond, he then said "Well, that's what I'm giving you”. He looked at me, waiting for an answer, so I replied "yes sir”.
"Right, let's get started then. Head forward…” I moved it forward, but it was clearly not enough and with his hand, he pushed it further forward so it was bowed right down. He selected some clippers that were hanging up in front of me next to the mirror. I noticed straight away, as he removed the guard that was on them. I felt the cold blades touch against the back of my neck, and slowly move upwards. He then continued all around the back of my head. I felt him do the taper at the bottom, but I was finding I didn't really mind. It was all part of this 50s experience. While all this was going on, the doors to the shop were still open, and the buzzing of the clippers must clearly have been heard outside, as in the corner of my eye, I could see people glancing in as they passed by.
"Right, head forward” he then said sharply. I moved my head forward again, and looked straight ahead of me. He walked around to my right side, and started stripping down the hair on the side of my head, now going over and around my ear, exposing it for what must have been the first time in quite a while. Holding down my ear, he then trimmed around and clear of it, before then trimming up the sideburns. He then repeated the process on the other side.
As the clippers went off, remembering what he had said at the start, I thought it best not to say anything. Looking ahead, I could see my hair was much shorter – shorter in fact than it‘d ever been. However, I was actually getting to like it - it did feel really 1950s. He brushed me down, and adding some hot lather, then shaved my neck and cleaned up around my ears.
After that, I thought he'd finished, but he went to a shelf unit, and saying to me "I haven't used any of this in a while”, applied some Royal Crown pomade, rubbing it thoroughly into my hair. He finished off by combing it, creating a straight parting on the left in the process.
Without removing the cape, he untucked it a bit at the back and removed the tissue. He then produced a handmirror and held it up for me to see in the reflection. It was a very short at the back and around the ears, and the sideburns were minimal. "What do you think lad?” he asked. Finding I really liked it, I replied "I love it. Thank you very much sir”. He looked really pleased and said. "I thought you might do. It's been a pleasure”.
He removed the cape and I got up. There I was, standing there, resplendent in these great clothes, and with this wonderful haircut. I looked really 1950s. Mr Peters was smiling and nodding approvingly. I was amazed I found myself asking this, but I then said to Mr Robertson "Could I come back in a few weeks time and you do it again for me?”. "Of course you can son. You've been so good, that when you do come for these haircuts, it'll be on the house. This is on one condition though…. ". "Yes Sir?” I asked enquiringly. He continued "…when you come, you will continue to do exactly as you're told, only speak when you're spoken to, and you will still refer to me as Sir – as it used to be. Is that OK with you?”. "Yes sir, thank you” I replied.
"Before we go”, Mr Peters said, "..go and sit down over there, I just want a word with Mr Robertson”. As I sat down in the waiting area, I could just make out what they were saying…. "I just wanted to thank you for doing that for him. He's been very interested in the 50s for a while now. He looks a little shocked, but I can see he really likes it”. I heard Mr Robertson reply "It's a while since I've given a haircut like that and it's been a pleasure. What a very polite young man you've got there”. "Oh he has his moments, but he's good” Mr Peters replied. As they came back over to me, I pretended that I hadn't heard, and have actually, never let on that I had. Mr Robertson handed me a new pot of Royal Crown pomade. "Here, this is for you to use, and I'll see you in a couple of weeks”. "Thank you Sir”, I replied gratefully.
After we'd left the shop, and I felt the warm gentle breeze around my neck and ears, Mr Peters asked me how I felt. "Really good actually ” I replied. I hadn't thought about this, but he then said "Don't worry about your mom and dad. I'll ring them and let them know what's been happening. As for school, I've got some talking to the class to do – on Monday, I want you to come in at 9.30, dressed as you are now (but do bring your modern clothes with you)”
When I got home, my parents greeted me and said I looked great. My brother chuckled a bit at first, but then, after a moments thought. also said I looked great. Obviously, over the weekend, I didn't keep my vintage clothes on and went back to normal clothes, but I did have my brilliant haircut. I had several comments about how smart and how grown up I looked.
I was nervous as I returned to school on Monday morning, dressed as I was on Friday. It was coming up to 9.30 and everyone was already in attendance.. As I nervously walked up, I could hear everyone in there. I knocked gently on the classroom door. It went quiet, and I heard Mr Peters call out "come in”. I slowly walked in, but was greeted with an almighty cheer and a rapturous round of applause. Everyone got up, came and gathered round me, and said I looked brilliant. Mr Peters said "David's been great and really got into the spirit of this. For our assignment project this term, we're going to do a project on the 1950s, and I'll tell you, we'll all be able to learn a lot from him”
Coming forward to the present:
As well as many of my schoolmates, I'm still in contact with Mr Peters (or Mark as it is these days, although I tend to still call him Sir) - and yes, I still have this fascination for the fifties.
As for the haircut… I returned regularly to Mr Robertson for another two years or so, before he sadly retired. I remember my last haircut by him. We had a wonderful chat, and he gave me that very first pinstriped cape he used on me, together with that nylon barbers jacket he had, to keep as mementos. I've tried that on many times, and I've fond memories of my early days visiting there. He was a great barber and I miss him. His son took over when he retired however, and, like his father has also turned into a great barber. He still gives me my haircuts to this day, and out of respect for his Dad, although we talk freely, I refer to him also, as Sir.
Although, now, in my 50s, the sideburns have returned a bit, and it's not quite as short as it was, I have however kept my hair generally short, back and sides. Tribute indeed to a good man, who was a master of his craft.