It was my day to get a haircut.
I’ve been getting a haircut once a month for the last 57 years at the same place — Louie the Clip.
When I got there, Louie was not the same. He didn’t feel well, but was willing to give me a haircut.
It bothered me he wasn’t the same Louie. His normal humor and joking around was missing. When he approached the chair, he said, “Do you mind if Mary cuts your hair today? She’s an excellent barber.” He didn’t have to sell me on Mary.
I really don’t care if Louie, Anita or Mary cuts my hair but on this day they were all busy deciding who was going to give me a haircut. I love all three and they all do a good job.
While sitting and waiting for my turn, that old barber shop started me thinking of the many good times I’ve had inside these walls. The first thing that came to my mind was that Louie needs more walls. His lifetime love for the Island and its people has used up all the space. He was concerned because, he said, “So many new youths should be having their picture on the barber’s wall.”
One of those pictures is of Louie, Dick Petry and myself. We’re there because the three of us all started in business on the Island in 1961. But if you’re part of his family or have done anything you should be recognized for, you’ll be up there.
When it comes to cutting hair, Louie is old school. When you walk in the door, he will always greet you. If you observe him closely, you’ll notice his attention never leaves the customer in the chair. To him, the person in the chair and paying is always the most important person in the room.
Through all the years and the many, many haircuts, I have not only looked better coming out of the shop, but I always felt better.
We always have plenty of good stories, laughter and a hug from Anita. On the Island, Lou was always recognized as the best dancer in town. (I could have proved it today since he used every one of his moves to dance away from cutting my hair.)
Can you believe that two people could live together and work side by side during the daylight hours without wanting to shoot each other? Since I’ve never even heard them argue, I guess there is no chance of that happening. You can’t help admiring the respect they have and show for one another.
We are so lucky to still have a piece of the old Shelter Island in this little country barber shop.
It’s now summer again and the new Island folks will never know why we stayed here so long. We will now have to grind our teeth as we listen to how we should change the Island so it will look more like a place they came from. We will have to adopt more rules because they had those rules in their towns.
I don’t want to look like some place else. The Island is unique and that’s why I love it. I love the fact that we don’t have traffic lights, mail delivery or fast food restaurants. Nothing makes the Island more unique than the ferry ride over.
Mary did my hair and Louie was right, she’s an extraordinary barber. I look better and feel better just like old times. When I left today, I got hugs from both Anita and Mary.
Louie knows how to keep us coming back. In the meantime, Louie is still trying to figure out how to tell me he didn’t want to cut my hair without hurting my feelings.