“All things change except barbers, the ways of barbers, and the surroundings of barbers. These never change.” ~ “About Barbers,” Sketches New and Old
The Fairfield House is located in a historical village that consists of two main roads that would be considered back roads to most other people. Along the roads are a few homes separated by farmed land. There is one Mom and Pop convenient store featuring two gas pumps where these roads meet. If you want anything else, you have to make the twenty minute drive to the neighboring towns. One such trip is made to Pete’s Barber Shop.
Unless this is your first visit to our blog, you know Thomas would never go to a hair stylist or unisex salon. Men go to barbers. They don’t sit alongside woman with foiled heads, inhaling chemicals, while sipping cappuccino and catching up on local gossip. They don’t do manicures or pedicures. I hesitate to think what would happen if someone suggested waxing. The haircut is not a luxury, but a necessity. It’s not an event, but more a procedure, similar to changing oil on your vehicle.
Thomas located a barber soon after we settled in to the Fairfield House. Ever since hearing a bit about Pete, I wanted to share him with you. You see although barber shops are becoming a rarity, Pete is even more so—he is 91 years old!
I asked Thomas to do this post and he flatly refused. Perhaps it breaks some secret man code. When I walked in, Pete was behind his chair cutting hair but looked up at us and said: ” That’s not the same gal you came in with last week!” He then laughed before breaking into a verse of “Yes sir, that’s my baby. No sir, I don’t mean maybe…”
I took a seat and recalled sitting in this same spot waiting on my Da getting a crew cut. No, it wasn’t THIS barber shop nor Pete the Barber, but they are all the same. Maybe that is the attraction. You always know where you are and what will happen; a comfort in predictability.
After the man paid and departed, I explained why I was there, camera and note pad in tow and asked his permission to take some photos and share a bit of his life. He was happy to oblige even though he’s not sure he can handle all the new business this post will generate.
Pete was born in Philadelphia. His family moved to this town when he was 8 years old. Pete’s father was a barber. Pete grew up and like most his age went off to fight in the big one, WWII. He returned home in 1946 and attended Barber School in Philadelphia for a year. After graduating, Pete’s father built the barber shop and they worked alongside each other until his death. Pete has been in business for 65 years. How different things are today. Most people will have a few different careers with multiple employers before retiring.
Pete has been married for 61 years and is well loved by his five daughters, eleven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. His one man shop is open Monday through Saturday. All cuts are $7.00. You can tell him what you want but he’ll give you what you need. Basically, you will leave with a shorter version of the same haircut you walked in with.
Pete says the secret to life is to find something you enjoy doing and keep doing it, to have fun and to take care of yourself. (He gave up weekly poker games at the American Legion due to second hand smoke.) After we exited and I took a few exterior pictures. I looked back at Pete,now alone in his shop, the oldest man I know with the youngest heart I’ve ever met.