There is so much to love about my hometown that I've decided to do a series of posts about it starting with a true classic, The Barbershop.
When a guy walks into a barbershop he doesn't want surprises. Continuity means something. Every barber cuts hair more or less the same way and it's all over in 10 or 15 minutes.
The barbershop is a man's world. The men who frequent them don't miss the frills or fancy decor of a salon. The barbershop customer seeks a different kind of comfort and visits these small, spare shops because they're dependable and inexpensive, and their barbers give good quality haircuts.
Clients gravitate toward the distinct male aesthetic that eschews trendy fashion magazines and aromatic flower arrangements.
The tools, tonic and lather are set against a classic 1950's backdrop: smoked glass and wood paneling. Beneath displays of unbreakable combs, pocket hairbrushes and old-time tonic bottles, there are newsweeklies spread across shelves along with comic books and Sports Illustrated magazines.
Barbershops also entice and comfort with their nostalgic familiarity, from red-and-white barber poles to swiveling leather chairs and mirrors.
Barbershops like Al's, The Razor's Edge and Dick's have seemingly always been centers for social exchange. Barbershops are where men have lingered to read the morning paper, where they have gossiped about politics and where they have chatted about sports and the weather. And in Alameda's barbershops, they still do.
Typical banter at most barbershops weaves current events with local politics, with funnymen throwing in a few jokes for good laughs. Practically every customer has something to add to the conversations, so there's much more to barbershops than the quick, efficient haircut that the barbers crank out. The barbershop sprouts its own community life, where participants take and make the time for civic banter.
Even though barbershops by nature have many similarities, each one usually-and this holds true in Alameda- has its own distinct personality.
The Razor's Edge is well known as the athlete's stop. Autographed photographs of famous athletes cover the walls, and a large glass case shows off sports memorabilia.
On the west end of town is Dick's Barber Shop the barber of choice for Coast Guard admirals, and Navy commandants and vice-commandants, but cuts flattops, crew cuts and just plain old haircuts for anyone who walks in his door.
Some of Al's customers literally have been clients for a lifetime and then introduced their sons and grandsons to the same chair and the same barber.
New generations are being introduced to barbershop culture from one side of our fair Island to the other.
* All text taken from Alameda Magazine
A Shave and a Haircut
Celebrating the Thrills of a No-Frills Haircut
by Leigh Ann Oliver Gray