Charlie the Barber had his shop around the corner from our row house, next door to McGlone’s grocery store. I think I was required to have a haircut every week, but it was definitely every two weeks. The style: butch. An oxymoron, realy.
Sometimes I went with my Dad, and my brother but after a while I was old enough to go by myself. Sometimes my brother and I would go together. What I remember about the Charlie’s Barber shop was his reading material.
Yes, there were recent, never new, copies of Look and Life, a few National Geographics, but there were some sinister, mysterious periodicals there as well. Detective magazines with some saucy stories and photos. Men’s magazines, horse racing papers, and best of all, Mad Magazine.
Charlie kept his eye on you to ensure you didn’t get into the saucy volumes, but I could always look forward to reading Mad there. My friend Teddy was an only child with a big detached house, a basement, a pool table, and two parents who were rarely home. He subscribed to Mad. What did I learn from Mad magazine? Satire. Rebeliousness. Dark humor. Laughter.
Charlie was a nice guy. He talked with people, always had the radio on low, seemed to know the local real news, asked how I was doing in school, asked about my brother, and with his window he could see everything happening all day as he cut hair. I remember the ahstrays. Standup type, like a little lamp post with a saucer and cool button that opened a trap door to let the ashes fall into the base of the thing.
But most of all I remember Charlie’s ever changing, disheveled end tables full of magazines. Something for every guy, and Mad.