Aug 1, 2010

Grooming and Litter

Years ago in downtown Allentown there were about a dozen barbershops and virtually no litter. Today, with the same population, there are about 60 shops and tons of litter. Apparently there is no longer a correlation between nice appearance and good manners. In the past men would wait their turn. Many of the new shops seemingly have an express system. A doorman with a walkie talkie informs the "barber" who is coming, and the patron can receive his service in less than a minute. Over the years I photographed most of the shops now gone. Although I'm sure many of the new proprietors are hardworking honest people who would not tolerate any criminal behavior, the days of taking my camera into barbershops has passed.

photocredit: molovinsky

Today's Morning Call has a feature story on the barbershops of Allentown; I thought it might be an appropriate time to republish this post from Jan. 7, 2009.


Anonymous said...

Can someone please explain just exactly WHAT was the purpose of that article "Hair : A Growth Indrustry" in today's MC?

Was this supposed to be another "Hooray For Diversity" piece or something?

They didn't print this to bad-mouth barbershops or make a big stink out of the unlicesned shops, that's for sure...

Super slow news day. I mean REALLY slow???

LVCI said...

I miss my old barber shop.. Tony's which was located under the campus shop up at 23rd & Liberty Streets. Tony closed a few years ago. His haircuts were still under 10 bucks (even after my tip). Boy you always got the latest neighborhood gossip too! Better then a newspaper.

Sadly the owner of the Campus Shop has not found someone who would rent it after Tony closed. The Campus Shop could sure use the rental income. If it weren't for the small postal substation income and lottery tickets this small business would be gone I'm positive.

When I was a kid I used to go to the barber school at 6th & Linden. 50 cents a haircut in the 60's.

After Tony closed I had been going to Woody's at 18th Tilghman Sts., but since I'm so thin on the dome anyway for the past year I just slip the 1/4 incher on my own clippers a zoom away.

Back to the late 50's.. one barber shop (a few doors down from a well known Allentown District Court Magistrate's office) had a swing away hidden wall were the girls worked (wink, wink).

The father-in-law even though he was bald went every other week. I never could understand why, till a couple of months before he died when he shared in confidence it was were he picked up his football tickets & horse betting slips. AND if his wife would have found out about it, she would have scalped him for FREE! :-)

michael molovinsky said...

i have just rejected an anonymous comment that the post is a bigoted slam against minorities, and portrays their barbers as drug dealers; the post clearly states that most are not. readers can use the link to the original post on jan. 7, 2009, and read a similar comment and my reply there.

it is true that many of the current hairstyles require more maintenance that in the past.
it is also true that our city in the past never was victimized by so much litter.

Anonymous said...

Tony's Barbershop and the the old Campus Shop.

Thanks for the memories.

Campus Shop was the official place to access football and baseball cards, among other things, like pinball and those new-fangled video games.

Next, someone will bring up George's Hoagie Shop...

Anonymous said...

In all fairness, it seems the litter has lessened in the last couple of years.

monkey momma said...

Here is my problem with the explosion of barber shops. The MC article clearly states that in the Dominican Republic, there are a LOT of barber shops, and the reason they're there in such large numbers is because there are NO OTHER JOBS. That is exactly what's happening here. There are NO JOBS in Allentown - well, there are some, but not nearly enough for every able bodied man and woman who wants to work. So, we see barber shops crop up everywhere, which is a sign of a depressed economy. And, yes, there is truth to the fact that haircutting skills are taught in prison. And, there is some truth to barber shops occassionally acting as a front for other, illegal, operations, but the same can be said of many other types of businesses. When you add it all up, it makes for a kind of crummy looking town when barber shops are everywhere. Sorry, but that's the truth. It'd be the same thing if there were dollar stores everywhere. Oh wait - there are dollar stores everywhere.

I applaud anyone who goes to work every day and provides for their family by making an honest living. But, as a whole, Allentown is not better off seeing a skyrocketing barbershop population. In fact, it's a clear sign that things are still headed south for us in the greater Allentown area. And that is depressing, my friends.

Anonymous said...

Allentown depressing?

Can't be.

Pawlowski and his Gang, er, uh, Administration say it's the City With No Limits!

Plus, the improvements to Cedar Beach Park look so wonderful!

Why, once the multi-generational (what a chic term) destination playground gets here...

...the Nay-Sayers will have no choice but to scarf humble pie!

Anonymous said...

Be proud of our barber shops? Sure, why not. What else is left in Allentown? Walkie talkies? Now isn't that a unique concept of queue management! May be that will be written up in The Harvard Business Review.

Anonymous said...

I thought the MC article was balanced. Most of these businesses are family run operations. Some have had links to nefarious business. Any light we shine on them discourages the nefarious business.

Michael, I encourage you to continue taking photographs of Allentown barbershops. What could be more interesting than a "compare and contrast" exhibit where we can see the similarities and the differences of Allentown's barbershops from days of yore and the ones from today? That would really be cutting edge art.