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Fred Harris, American Small Town Barber

Look for the tall man with eyes blue as a summer day.
That's Fred – woodworker, builder, baker of bread,
race car driver, farmer, farrier, and barber extraordinaire –
fifty years of barbering, seventy hours a week in Huntingdon
and Mactown, with a little time on Sundays
to saddle up Prince for a ride.

Fred's story is one of reluctant first haircuts, 
the mingled scent of lather, Bay Rum, Brill Cream;
of "just a little off the sides," and the rhythmic sound 
of straight razor on leather strop. Fred shaved a balloon
at barber school – steady hand, slow breath . . . no pop.

In the 50s, it was crew cuts and flat tops; in the 60s, duck tails 
and pompadours. Then the 70s, when grim-faced dads 
dragged in their sons, and Fred made shoulder-length tangles
presentable again. "Got another one," he'd grin.  

No music in the shop – "It runs the batteries down" –
but he tuned in to hear the obits read
so he could pay respects if a regular died.
And if a shut-in needed a trim, Fred would stop by
on his way home, after a twelve hour day.

Vacations? Well, he went to Florida once, to Niagara Falls
for a couple days. But that was travel enough.
He had his barber shop, his farm, people who loved him.
He was useful. He mattered.


©2017 by Sarah Russell