Starting New With Old

Don’s Barber Shop is taken straight out of a 1950’s hollywood scene. I grew up watching It’s A Wonderful Life each Christmas, and I imagine this is the place George Bailey cleaned up before a night on the town. Outside the small storefront spins a traditional red, white, and blue barber pole. It caught my attention on the drive home last night and encouraged me to stop by again today.

I walk inside and am immediately greeted by an air conditioned waft of musty old wood, worn leather, and Barbasol shave cream. Black and white tile cover the floor. A model Buick Roadmaster, Oldsmobile Super 88, and various other classics line the top shelf that spans the perimeter of the room. Vintage print advertisements cover the walls along with a rustic sign that reads, “We specialize in flat tops!” Somewhat out of place is an antelope head mounted next to a python skin tucked away in the far back corner.

Of course, nobody but me paid much attention to the interior decorating. After all, I was experiencing this shop for the first time and they were regulars. Sports Center was busy debating last night’s NBA Draft picks and all eyes were glued silently to the flatscreen television. Talk of Ben Simmons potential to turn Philly’s franchise around was the only signal to remind my brain that I hadn’t just walked 60 years into the past.

“I think you’ll find that Findlay is good town. But a few ideas still need to die. Many people here still believe the 1950's was the best decade in American history.”

A sad looking gentleman sitting to my left waiting for his turn had apparently woken from his slumber and began striking up a conversation with me. He was severely overweight, with large calves extending into his untied, white, New Balance sneakers.

I smiled and nodded my head in agreement. I had only been moved in to my new apartment for three days now, and Don’s Barber Shop had the look and feel of almost every other building in this town. Sleepy. Old fashioned. Everything I knew it would be, but didn’t want to admit.

Straight out of college, I chased this job that offered great work experience but a severely compromised location. Northeast Ohio is not exactly prime real estate for an ambitious 22 year old. After graduation I watched many of my friends accept jobs in San Fransisco, New York, and Chicago. But I suppose if I wanted to be like them, then I should’ve pursued a different degree. Manufacturing tends to lend itself to the middle of nowhere.

The thought of living in this town for the next 18 months has slowly begun to set in. I think my haircut at Don’s finally cemented my reality. I have moved somewhere old to start something new. Like Don’s Barber Shop, this town may seem to belong in the past more so than the present. It’s run down and stubborn to leave the past.

It will be a learning experince. I know I’ll grow up a lot in the next year and half. And for that reason I’m excited. I’m excited to take in all the opportunities this place has to throw at me. Old barber shops and all.

After all, no haircut is pernament. And neither is this job nor this town. All I can do is look in the mirror, smile, and make the most of the position I’m in.

John finishes shaving my neck and hands me a mirror to inspect his work. It looks different from what I’ve had in the past — but I like it. Different is good. Starting something new is good — even if new is old.