I keep a list* of mundane things that fascinate me – like garbage cans, car washes, laundromats, parking garages. And barber shops.
After my dad became too frail to drive, one of my tasks was to take him to the barber shop, a two-chair operation where one of the barbers was even older than my dad; they were both as deaf as a stump but they seemed content as they carried on parallel yet unrelated conversations, like this actual one I overheard:
Barber: It’s cool today.
My dad: Yes, I’m feeling a little better.
The haircut was eight bucks. My dad paid with a twenty, and the barber gave him a ten and two ones as change. My dad handed him the ones as a tip; the barber took both ones and handed one of them back. It was a complicated financial transaction and took very nearly as long as the haircut had.
Usually, though, the younger barber cut my dad’s hair and his kindnesses toward my dad – holding the door, helping him in and out of chair, walking him out to the car – always made me emotional. As the days in assisted living moved on, eventually going to the barber was the single thing left from my dad’s old life. And then one day, I took him for a haircut and the place was dark; the door was locked and the phone was out of service. I felt so bad for my dad: just like that, with no warning, that single thing from before was gone. And we didn’t know what had happened.
I did find out a few months later, through one of those coincidences that happen in a town like Lubbock. Over lunch with a work friend, I happened to mention that later that day I was taking my dad to get a haircut but we were having to go to a new barbershop, and I told her the story of the vanishing barber. She said, “Edward? Oh, he died!” He was in a relationship with one of her employees and he’d died suddenly, after a Thanksgiving lunch. I never told my dad – I couldn’t bring myself to tell him any more bad news than what I already had to deliver on a regular basis.
And then when he passed away, my friend from work and the barber’s girlfriend both came to the funeral.
Of course none of this has anything at all to do with today’s photo. But it was on my mind…
*An actual list, on the door in my studio. In case I forget.
Posted on June 11, 2020, in Photography and tagged 365 photo project, barbershop, black and white photography, Brownwood, downtown, learning to see, Leica, melinda green harvey, monochrome, one day one image, photo a day, postaday, road trip, take time to look, texas, thoughtful seeing. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.