Monday, March 1, 2010
Iowaville: Jake the Barber
"You had better sit still as a statue if you don't want your ear cut off," every kid heard in Iowaville heard sometime in their life before heading into Jake the Barber's little shack of a house nestled in-between larger brick buildings on Main Street. Rumor had it that some kid hadn't sat still and actually had gotten a chunk of his ear snipped off. Looking back on it through time aged eyes, I'm pretty positive that didn't happen because I've yet to see a pair of scissors sharp enough to cut through cartilage without offering up some noticeable resistance. More and likely someone got their ear nicked and there might have been some blood involved but too a young and naïve kid, the image of an entire ear laying on the floor was very real and very possible.
Jake's Barbershop was one of those classics right out of a Leave It to Beaver episode. It had a large chromed out chair that rose up and down with a large pedal, one of many arranged around the base. There was only one chair for the cutting and three or four for those in waiting. It wasn't unusual for you to go in and wait for a couple hours while the three in front of you had their hair cut and it really didn't matter anyway that it took that long. There was always an interesting discussion going on and if you were a kid like me, Jake always had a few comic books to read through. Best of all, you always got a big lollipop at the end.
One wall behind the chair held a large mirror that ran its length with a couple shelves below full of lotions and liquids in an assortment of colors and smells. Below that was a counter top that held the sink and a wide assortment of scissors, shears, attachments, straight razors, leather strap and a couple hair dryers. The front of the shop had large windows on either side of the door with a layer of dirt that always gave the outside a yellowish tinge and of course, a large striped barber pole held on one side of the door. If you were a female, you went to the local beautician and if you were a guy, you went to Jake.
My experiences of going to Jake's Barber Shop were limited to most. Jake used to put some sort of greasy green goo in my hair before cutting it to make it stand up. It worked well but smelled like a wet dog that has just rolled around in something that had been dead for a while. It was terrible and my mother agreed. She tried telling Jake when dropping me off, that she didn't want any of that green goo put in my hair and sometimes he obliged but more often than not, it went on and my mom would raise a stink when I climbed into the car. She finally gave up and decided to cut my hair herself. That went on for several years until crew cuts became the latest fad and after much persuading, I had my mom make me an appointment with the local beautician. Fifteen minutes later, my head felt pounds lighter and my mom's jaw dropped when she saw me without my long locks. However, always the spendthrift, she bought one of those attachment kits that fit over the end of the shears and cut my hair for the rest of my home days with the #1 attachment. Twenty-five years later, I still use the #1 attachment.