OCR Interpretation

Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, June 06, 1915, Image 40

Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1915-06-06/ed-1/seq-40/

What is OCR?

Thumbnail for

As ? leveler of caste and a bulwark
/* of social democracy the Shop of
/ M the Striped Polo is to bo at once
-L. compared with tho voting booth
and tho jury box,?where each man is the
peer of every other man and sharing
equally the Republic's privileges of life, lib
erty, freedom, etc. You may be the chief
man in your town,?and let us hope that
you are. -but when you step within the
door of the Shop of the Striped 1'ole the
head barber looks up for it single moment
from his chair, smiles his impartial smile
of greeting to all good customers, and
merely says:
"There are only five ahead of you, Mr.
Willi three chairs working and two of
them engaged upon somewhat compli
cated performances, you look dubiously
at the prospect, ll is Saturday,? a short
day even in your town, which has not
acquired all I lie metropolitan vices as yet.
There is to be a meeting of the directors
on l at your factory, anil you also must
make the hank before the noon whistle
blows. After that Jinks is going to take
you out to lunch and a couple of rounds
at the Country Club, and you do not
know when you will be back. After that
?an oasis of harboring until Monday
noon, and you pass the plate tomorrow
morning in church.
You recount these things quickly in
your mind. There is another shop at the
new hotel, but it is sure to be more
crowded; another down near the carriage
works, hut it has foreign barbers; then
you have come to this shop for eighteen
years now, and ?
You slink meekly into a seat and pick
up a comic paper, three weeks old and
badly thumbed. At another time you
might enjoy it; but now you are thinking
of the time you are going to waste until
the two mechanics from the paper mill,
old Dr. Hedges, the .links' chaffeur, and
a weasel-faced stranger in town, shall have
had their opportunity and your time is
come. You fuss and fume?inwardly. At
heart you are an aristocrat. You drop
the comic weekly and pick up a religious
one?and find ironic joy in so doing. Fi
nally in your ears this:
"All ready, Mr. Blinks."
It is your favorite barber, ?the favorite
barber of all the wise men of the town.
He tucks you in as a mother might tuck
in her child, and runs his fat finger over
your jowls as a butcher might inspect a
fresh carcass in from the storehouse. Hut
you like it?you honestly do! The splosh
of the lather on your cheek has a feeling
of enchantment; while in your ears there
runs the music of the choice gossip of the
town. In the chair the time goes quickly.
There is gay banter as well as a democracy
in the place, and before you know it you
are sitting upright again, and the barber
is softly asking:
"Isn't it about time we tackled the
hair once again?"
What a Barber Earns
rpil.\T is one of his perquisites, and in a
profession that goes back into dim cen
turies and proudly announces itself as the
mother profession of modern surgery, per
quisites count for something. In the mod
ern barber shop in the modern city they
count for something definite. The jour
neyman barber may be paid only SKI or
$12 a week,?rarely more than that, ex
cept perhaps on the Pacific Coast, where
all labor commands higher prices,?hut in
almost every case lie receives a commis
sion of from twenty to thirty-three per
cent, on his weekly earnings over, say, 825.
Then there are special commissions paid
sometimes on the sale of hair tonic and
other condiments.
After which there remain the tips, al
ways a problematical figure.'and depen
dent largely upon the skill and cordiality
of the barber. So it will lie seen in an
IX this number Edward Hungerford begins a
series of articles giving inside figures and inside
facts of some typical American businesses.
Each article is written from first-hand investi
gation: each one gives a remarkable picture of
the conditions that surround each business, of
the factors that make for success or failure in
it, of the risks, opportunities, earnings, and
drawbacks that a man encounters in each
calling. Mr. Hungerford's next article will
deal with "The American Hotel."
instant 1 hat the barber, like the waiter
and the sleeping-ear porter, draws his real
income not from his employer, but from his
patrons. And this is not a tradition that
goes back through centuries of barbering.
It came in with the tipping habit, one of
the European nuisances that we have im
For even such established institutions
as barber shops do progress. It was a
long time ago that the ancient profession
of the cupper and the leecher was married
to the able profession of the shoe shiner.
And more recently others have come.?
th?' chiropodist and the manicure (who
is an institution of herself, and therefore
deserves her own story).
Some big modern shops, particularly
those situated in or near the large railroad
terminals, have complete bath and dress
ing rooms, and valet service in addition.
Hut the once familiar swinging sign of the
tin bathtub, which always used to hang ad
jacent to the Striped Pole, has disappeared.
The private bathtub lias become one of
the Great American Institutions.
Harbor Shop '20 Years from Now
WIUj the barber shop itself disappear
as well? There are some worldly wise
folk who aver that they already see signs
of its forthcoming disintegration. They
will call your attention to the number of
your friends who today shave themselves
-perhaps you yourself have that cleanly
and efficient habit. And the roll seems to
be growing constantly.
"Barber shops, yes." they will tell you:
"but not to shave in. The barber shop
of the future will be a hair-cutting estab
lishment simply and entirely."
And, as if in support of this theory,
they can show you right in the heart of
the city of New York two or three shops
in which a man could no more hope for
a shave than in a cigar store or a tango
palace. And there is a smart old shop
foreman down in the Wall Street district
whose name is almost as well known as
any of the big brokers there, who can
tell you of the changing taste of his
"Those fellows uptown who will only
cut hair are really French beard cutters."
he says; "but they get away with it pretty
well, just as my old boss used to get away
with it with his name and 'llair Cutter'
underneath it stuck up in the biggest gilt
letters on the door. The big bugs would
wait for him to tackle their hair, and get
a worse job of it than they would have
had at any other chair in the shop. Still,
that's all in the day's work.
"1 can see the difference in the business
these days myself, though. Twelve or
fifteen years ago, and I'd have eighteen
or twenty shaves and perhaps half a dozen
jobs of hair-cutting, shampooing, and the
like. Now I won't shave more than five
or six men in the passing of a single day.
Hut the shop keeps just as many chairs,
and every chair is just as busy as then, be
cause more men come to it, and because
every man wants more work these days:
not only hair-cutting, but shampooing,
singeing, facial massage,?all those things
that used to be looked on as dudificd, but
now have become a part of every business
man's routine."
Side Lines the Salvation
JT is the development of special side
lines, then, that has saved the barber
shop, just at the very time that the safety
razor threatened its very existence. Hut
before the crisis arose there were shops
that did not hesitateat specialties, nor at
applying them by brute force. There is
a tradition that in one of the historic
hotels in downtown Now York a country
man once paid $12.45 after a single session
in its barber shop, and was fortunate in
escaping with his life.
By singular coincidence it was probably
the barber himself who was the begin
ning of the popular craze for the safety
razor. Not by his own methods or lack
of cleanliness so much, as by his own auto
cratic position, did he give strength to
bis new opponent, lie had forgotten one
thing. He had forgotten that to a man
whose beard grows fast and black an open
shop each day of the week is a necessity,
just as an open drugstore each day of the
week is a necessity. Drugstores and rail
roads and newspapers and telephone ex
changes manage to operate seven days a
week by giving their employees Sundays
scattered through the week.
Iiut the barber would not see it that
way. He sought to work eacl^of his men
seven days a week, and long hours in
addition. They rebelled. And in one
State after another the men, working
through their well organized unions, se
cured the passage of laws closing the bar
ber shops all day Sunday.
These laws still hold. And getting a
shave on Sunday in many towns deserves
to be reckoned among the great American
adventures. It is quite out of the ques
tion. unless you are willing to pay a barber
privately and have him come to your
house on Sabbath morning, or else have a
friend who is running a hotel. In this
last case you will probably be examined
more minutely than a Clerman suspect
going into the English lines, and. having
passed this examination successfully, will
be conducted through a small door be
yond the bellboys' bench, through devious
and winding bank halls and alleys, to 1)0
eventually let into an unused storeroom
where a nervous barlter hovers over an
improvised chair, and between uncertain ?
strokes dreams of the police and a jail
You Can't Shave in Cincinnati
CUCH cities as New York, Chicago, San
Francisco, and New Orleans proclaim
their metropolitanism by permitting their
barber shops to run openly and legally
on Sunday. Boston has tlx" advantage of
a Massachusetts statute permitting hotel
guests to be shaved in their own rooms.
And in a good many other cities the
hotels have made such a statute for their
own convenience. The State laws are al
most always forbidding on this point.
Theaters may run, films do likewise, soda
fountains gurgle, but if a man wishes to
he shaved in a barber shop on Sunday he
is immediately classed among the felons.
There is variation, of course, in the
way these State laws are observed. In
Cleveland a man may be shaved easily
in a shop on Sunday. In Cincinnati the
thing is absolutely taboo. In Kansas City
you may be publicly scraped: but in St.
Louis, in the same State, one must go
unshaved or else cross the .>ridgc to Kast
St. Louis?which is nearly as bad. In
Atlanta you are shaved on Sunday by an
aged and badly seared negro, who charges
you five times the regular taritT for trem
bling on the verge of a jail settlement;
but in Savannah?well. Savannah is not
in the same State as Atlanta.
The immediate result of these strict
laws in regard to opening barber shops
011 Sunday was to boom the safety-razor
trade. A man had more necessity of be
ing clean-shaved 011 Sunday than 011 al
most any other day. And having solved
the problem by shaving himself, it followed
as only a matter of natural course that
lie would shave himself each day of the
week. So the barbers found themselves
shaving six men a day instead of sixteen,
and the business for its very existence has
fallen back upon the development of its
specialties. Men cannot cut their own
hair. The barber thanks Heaven for that.
Other businesses, indispensable and
highly profitable, are being gathered
into the chain-store systems across the
country. The barber shops, apparently
being neither indispensable nor highly
profitable, have so far escaped this proc
ess of economic evolution.
(lives Bargain Shaves
A SMART barber who runs a shop in a
city in the middle part of the country
has worked out an ingenious plan for the
development of his own business. His shop
is situated on a side street, nearer the
residence section of the town than the
business. His rent is low; but his location
not such as to draw much transient busi
ness. Vet he runs eighteen chairs, and
keeps them tilled almost all day long.
This man has worked out an ingenious
scheme. If you wish to become a regular
patron of his shop, he will sell you 011 the
first day of each month a card, which en
titles you to a daily shave, two hair-cuts,
and two shampoos. This card costs you
three dollars, and is a great saving?if you
can reach his shop regularly. Kven if you
do this, and use the card down to its last
punch-mark, the boss smiles 011 you pleas
antly. He is not losing. He is bringing
to his shop the life-blood of any "busi
ness,?steady income.
A successful shop or store, a retail busi
ness of any sort, is rarely built up 011
what an engineer would call a "peak
load." The smart boss barber in Ohio
has already learned that. And if a really
large syndicate of barber shops should
ever come into being, you may count upon
him as leading it.

xml | txt