BL: Barbers Shops … and Letters of Disassociation

    Barber Shop
    BobLee
    March05/ 2018

    This past Friday there was “a shooting in Kinston” near The Friendly Barber Shop . You know Kinston as “where I’m from”. Normally “a shooting in Kinston” circa 2018 is about as newsworthy as “King’s BBQ sold some hushpuppies today”.

    Both random shootings and hushpuppy sales are frequent “back home” these days.

    The staccato chatter of the tobacco auctioneer having been replaced with the bang bang of 9mms.

    This one was different. It occurred in a part of town where they “aren’t supposed to happen”.

    Think of Kinston as ChicagoLand… a shooting in South Chicago is “yeah… so what” but a shooting up in Evanston is “WHOA… that’s not good.”  “East Kinston” is South Chicago to the locals.   Lenoir County’s Las Vegas…

    What happens in East Kinston… stays in East Kinston… hopefully.

    Stay with me… this has a point.

    Friday’s “gunfire rang out” occurred near the intersection of Herritage & W. Lenoir… about a ½ block from The Friendly Barber Shop. … on the western edge of “downtown”.  Kinston, like many small Southern communities has been going thru a socio-ethnic transition over the past 30 years relative to the prevailing ethnicity of various residential neighborhoods.

    Police reports indicate an ethnic similarity twixt the shooters and the shootees ergo local concern is limited to “where” more so than “who”.  … like shootings in South Chicago during the Obama Administration.

    If there is an award for a PC-explanation of what I just described, I should merit at least an Honorable Mention, don’t you think?

    My attention was drawn to near The Friendly Barber Shop.  My pal Ronnie Hill’s father, Joe Hill, owned that shop for many years. I frequented it as a teen-ager. Got my one and only “flat-top” there as I recall. It was NOT a “good look” for me.

    I passed along this report to an e-mail “bark patrol” of old Kinston friends across the country. Within ten minutes I got a reply from Donald Parrott – the middle of a legendary trio known simply as “those Parrott Boys” – Reid, Donald & Hubert.

    ‘Dem boys were “one Zeppo” from being funnier than Chico, Groucho and Harpo.

    Donald noted that Joe Hill had, some years ago, sold The Friendly to Red Hathaway. Red, as every Kinstonian of The 60s knows, owned Hathaway’s Barber Shop at the corner of Queen & Caswell. It was “subterranean” i.e. it was underneath Oettinger Bros Furniture Store. Red, apparently, was going to corner the market on corner barber shops in Kinston.

    OK… we’re almost to that aforementioned “point”.

    Seven years ago I posted a Classic called Saturday Mornings @ Hathaways. I dug it out of the BLSays archives and sent a link to Donald.  In re-reading it, I realized it was far better than the blah bah column I was planning to write today about How Awful College BB IsWhether Earth is a Different Planet because Duke won… or What The Hell Is “a Letter of Disassociation”.

    “A Letter of Disassociation” regardless if sent by Frau Yow… BubbaTheRealAD … WhatsHisName @ Duke or “that angry gay skater who looked like Pee Wee Herman”… doesn’t mean “squat”.

    It is not a TRO – Temporary Restraining Order – or even a No Trespassing sign.  So says my friend – “the esteemed liberal lawyer”- who is very smart at least on “law stuff” if not so much on “politics”.

    As a sad sign of our times… Saturday morning, I got into a bare-knuckle Tweet fight with a rather rabid Wuff board monkey re: Letters of Disassociation. It was 45 minutes of my life I can never recover. Not sure what could have been a greater waste of time… and I knew it after the first three minutes.  ARGHHH.

    BLS Rule #4 re: Twitter: NEVER carry a twitter discussion more than one reply. Simply press the Block The SOB button and go sort your sock drawer. As valuable advice as I will ever give out here.

    Soooo… here is that Classic from 2011 …. Saturday Mornings @ Hathaways.

    NOTE:  Neither the picture up top nor this one are actually THE Friendly Barber Shop in Kinston or Hathaway’s.  98% of you have no clue where Kinston is and certainly no knowledge of its barber shops.

    ♦♦♦

    Saturday Mornings at Hathaways

    June 12, 2011 Old Barber Shop

    I don’t remember the first time nor the last time we went, but for Little BobLee, Saturday mornings at Hathaway’s with Dad were special.

    The psycho-babble phrase “bonding” had not been invented yet.  It was simply my Dad and me getting haircuts.  Hathaway’s Barber Shop was on the corner of Queen & Caswell Streets down a flight of steps in a basement beneath Oettinger Brothers Furniture store.  ….  if I catch a whiff of Pinaud Clubmen or talcum, I still recall those “Saturday mornings at Hathaway’s”.

    It was the late 50s and it was a pretty big deal when I got to go with Dad to Hathaway’s Barber Shop.  Two guys doing guy stuff – No Women or Girls Allowed.

    Ours was a tobacco town so Hathaway’s would have a mixture of farmers and merchants.  Doctors, lawyers, merchants, “Duponters”, and guys in overalls and jeans and plaid shirts.  There were four barbers – “Red” Hathaway was the proprietor, “Red’s” brother and two others.  “Red’s chair was down on the far end.   All four barbers were always wearing white barber smocks.  There was a mirror that ran the full-length of the wall behind the barbers and shelves of multi-colored bottles of various sizes and shapes.

    None of the barbers were named “Floyd”.  They were all “Floyds”.

    Across from the barbers were 10-15 wooden chairs for customers.  There were lots of hooks to hang hats.  It was The 50s and men wore fedoras.  This was The 50s in the rural South.

    You didn’t take a # or sign a waiting list.  You simply noticed who was ahead of you when you walked in so you knew when you were “next”.   There were never any disputes …. no shouting …. no harsh words.  Sometimes the man ahead of you would say “I’m waiting for Red” so you got to move up if another barber was open.  “Red” had his own clientele.

    The #1 conversation topic was “the weather”.  I’m sure there was political chatter but back then it was “good-natured”.  Ahhhh, those were the good ol’ days.  I don’t recall any ribald jokes.  Our pro sports teams were the Redskins and the Senators – First in War – First in Peace – and Last in the American League.

    If a new “something” had opened in town it would get a critique.  Some gossip about “a preacher who had to abruptly leave town” or “that new waitress at the lunch counter at Standard Drug Store”.

    I recall the magazines.  “Men’s magazines” that made me as, a young lad, uncomfortably curious.  They had names like Saga, True and Argosy.  The covers always featured…Mans Life

    … curvaceous women imperiled …

    with their clothes in tatters and imperiled either from Nazis or Japs or motorcycle gangs.   I just remember the covers.  It was unspokenly understood that I should not exercise my curiosity.

    There were the hunting / fishing magazines – Sports Afield and Field & Stream.  I learned of a faraway place called Manitoba where huge “muskies” lurked.

    There were a few comic books for us boys – Superman and Blackhawk.  This was a Men’s barbershop, not really catering to kids so no Weekly Reader or such as one might find at the dentists’.  Oh and definitely Farmers Almanac.

    Copies of the local “Daily Free Press” were strewn about.  The Publisher and Editor were longtime locals.  They had opinions but this was back when newspapers could spell “integrity”.   We had a Dr Peele who was “a John Bircher” whatever that was.  He always had a Letter To The Editor but I don’t know anyone who ever read one of his letters.

    Aficionados of F. Scott Fitzgerald may recall “The Eyes of Dr T.J. Eckelberg”.  At Hathways it was E.J. Paidar.  E.J. Paidar EJ Paidarmade barber chairs.  The name was in the wrought-iron footrest of each chair.  When you looked down so the barber could clean your neck, you saw E.J. Paidar’s name staring up at you.

    Did I need “a little boy seat”?  That padded board that fit across the barber chair arms so a small boy’s head would be at the right level.  I truly don’t recall.  But I do recall that big brush with the talcum powder and the smell of Pinaud Clubmen.

    Often after our haircut, Dad and I would walk a block down Queen Street to “the dime store” – McClellan’s – and I could get a small toy …. maybe a yo-yo or a peashooter. In our town everyone knew everyone and EVERYONE knew my Dad – he was the local surveyor and, they said, his name was on every map in the courthouse.

    One day I didn’t go to Hathaway’s on Saturday any more.  I don’t know why or where I went instead.  One day a boy just knows it’s time to go get his haircuts without Dad.

    Now I get my haircuts by “Brandi” at The Guys Barber Shop.  There are magazines but without racy covers.  Guys still talk about “the weather” …. and some new-fangled sport called “hockey”.  I think “Red” Hathaway would approve.

    ♦♦♦

    ######

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    BobLee
    • SunshotDeac Reply
      7 months ago

      You’re certainly right about integrity being more the individual… and I can relate to everything you’ve said about your Dad. FYI, “sunshot” refers to taking solar observations to obtain “true” bearings…just technical surveyor jargon.

    • SunshotDeac Reply
      7 months ago

      Sorry to learn that you lost your Dad so early in life. Just an observation: the best surveyors I’ve known, from way back or currently, were/are more proud of their accuracy (and their integrity) than their business skills. Probably applies to other professions as well.

      • BobLee Reply
        7 months ago

        I think integrity is more “the individual” than the profession. My Dad actually was not that savvy as a businessman as he was an incredibly respected surveyor. He had his own business and drew his maps in his home office. I have known very few men in my life who were as happy with their chosen profession as he was. I think a lot of that was being outside most of the time rather than in an office.
        .
        He did a lot of work in the large wooden areas in Eastern NC… Hoffman Forest et al. I always remember his advice “if you ever come upon a moonshine still…” (which he did on occasion)… make a wide berth around it and pretend you didn’t see a thing…”

    • SunshotDeac Reply
      7 months ago

      Hello BL,

      Long time reader, first time poster here. Funny what prompted me to make my first post… the fact that your father was a surveyor, like myself, from another K-town, Kernersville…, and that I’m recently now semi-retired. You might understand the reference in my moniker.
      .
      A small contribution to the Barbershop nostalgia: Besides Pinaud Clubmen, do you remember a product called “Sure-Lay,” a cherry red hair tonic? It was ubiquitous at the shops in my hometown of Thomasville. I still think of it anytime I see someone with a “slicked back” hair style.
      .
      And the phrase, for the young boy, directed to him or his parent, “Do you want to leave the side burns?” It seemed to mean, if you answered no, that the barber would not need to use a razor on your neck or around your ears, but could do everything with the electric shears, and finish much quicker. I seem to remember the resulting haircut being called a “white sidewall.”
      .
      Thanks for prompting the memories.
      .
      SunshotDeac

      • BobLee Reply
        7 months ago

        I’m always amazed by what prompts a reader to first comment. Glad when it isn’t RAGE! 🙂
        .
        My Dad passed away in 1969 long before computers and lasers. He used a transit and metal chains… He absolutely LOVED “Surveyng” and took great pride in his accuracy. His name is on maps all over “Downeast” even 50 years later.
        .
        Don’t recall Sure-Lay but there many multi-colored bottles lined up under the mirrors. I miss those long bristled brushes with the talcum powder.

    • Ken Stewart Reply
      7 months ago

      Wow! You just brought back a real memory! True magazine. I remember reading it as a preteen back in Bunnlevel at Brown’s Barber shop, right next door to Kathryn’s Beauty shop, my mother’s business. The barber shop had True and the beauty shop had Photoplay, the 60’s version of People.

      • BobLee Reply
        7 months ago

        There were 5-6 titles… all pretty much the same.

    • Baltimoreheel Reply
      7 months ago

      Thanks for the lookback BL! Those barbershop “aromas” were awesome. I always got excited when the barber started sharpening his shaver on that long leather pad (or whatever that thing was). I was about to get the WARM shaving cream on my neck!! YEA!

      • BobLee Reply
        7 months ago

        I think that was called a “strop” or “strap”.

    • Mayberry Jim Reply
      7 months ago

      I recently spent some time in Kinston preparing a bid for the next phase of the C F Harvey Parkway, I met several very nice local folks. I told one gentleman I often read a commentary by a guy who grew up in “K-town”. Not sure the gentleman was internet-active, and he was not familiar with your work, but he told me with some remorse that the phrase is now “K-town (duck) GIT DOWN!” We did not get the job so I won’t be back to Baron and Beef anytime soon, darn it.

      • BobLee Reply
        7 months ago

        Alas, most of my “peeps” have dispersed over the decades. I do keep an elite Spec Ops team on-site but they stay on the down-low. Even the locals joke about Kinston become Beirut Downeast.

    • Bosco O Reply
      7 months ago

      My neighbor and often cohort in merriment in Salisbury back when was the Parrott Boys cousin Betsy. Equally funny then and now.

      • BobLee Reply
        7 months ago

        Not only “funny” but also fine gentlemen too.

    • PTH Reply
      7 months ago

      I would equate a dissociation letter to an agent with a Dear John letter where someone else loses their benefits!

    • F.G.J. Reply
      7 months ago

      Those “men’s magazines”- Saga, Argosy, etc… I definitely remember them as well. Not that I ever would have thumbed thru one in public but … as I recall they did not have nudity but, as you say, “implied peril” from evil Nazis, Japs and motorcycle gangs. … probably NOT mankind’s greatest print journalism achievement.

      • BobLee Reply
        7 months ago

        The category – “NOT mankind’s greatest print journalism achievement.” can still be applied liberally today… for different reasons.
        .
        Those magazines appealed to a rather prurient taste to say the least. I believe they preceded Playboy, Hustler, Penthouse. Caligula would have been a fan I bet.

      • NCSU68Grad Reply
        7 months ago

        What an eloquent description. My Uncle, who would purchase them, left them (conveniently) available in his house and I frequented it while he and my aunt were at work. NO Nudity. Exploits of male prowess. I remember ONE story where there was a dastardly crew of miscreants and one hero and one Dolly Parton type female on a lifeboat. Time was running out and the unsavory folks had plotted their last days on earth and they planned to have their fun rather than wait for 40 or 72 or the large economy sized package of Virgins in paradise
        The hero, single handedly, fought them off and took out a few and fed a few to the circling sharks. THEN, a rescue and the evil ones were punished for mutiny and the hero DID get the other’s fantasy with Dolly….but it was never stated…..sort of like panning to they sky when Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue had their little “opps” scene….
        The writers for such moved on to Playboy and Hustler and just were a bit more graphic (with visuals) in their writing….They also penned the “Playboy Fantasy Letters”….their style showed through….

        • BobLee Reply
          7 months ago

          Somewhat of a transition from Lady Chatterly’s Lover and Tom Jones… huh?

    • Ted.G Reply
      7 months ago

      BL: I think your twitter “friend” is still lurking. He seems upset.

      • BobLee Reply
        7 months ago

        He’ll get over it. I broke my own Rules of Engagement re: Twitter. I needed the reminder. That’s why I have Rules.

    • Da Judge in Charlotte Reply
      7 months ago

      Your column on Hathaway’s barber shop brought back memories of a small, country barber shop I frequented as a teen in the Tyro community of Davidson County. The shop was operated by a father and son who cut hair on Friday nights and Saturdays. It was a place where you could hear of the goings on in the community. The reading material included copies of Progressive Farmer. A small black and white television set was mounted high in a corner of the shop where it could be seen by the customers whose hair was being cut and by the barbers. The tv was usually on and tuned to sporting events on Saturday afternoons. Because I wore a crew cut, my haircut was quick and simple. Although the barber shop and its building have been gone for years, I still recall those days fondly every time I pass by the the place where the shop was located beside N.C. Highway 150.

      • BobLee Reply
        7 months ago

        A Boy & His Barber Shop are a boyhood memory that endures… 🙂

    • 58 Wolf Kennel Reply
      7 months ago

      Great nostalgia!! Well done. Longer response lost in internet.
      On other subject, I got first hand with Chancellor and AD when they asked me to shut down BASE.(Beyond Academic Support Excellence), and I believe a letter of dissociation is better to have than not
      We’ve also done others I’m aware of.
      More info on the twins !!

      • BobLee Reply
        7 months ago

        YIPPEEE! BK has returned! Know you are dealing with various family issues… hope all is going as well as possible.
        .
        My legal expert just said the letters don’t really carry any consequential “or else” weight but, as you say, doesn’t hurt to have it on-file. College BB issues go well beyond that apparently. I am sensing major sea-changes coming regardless of the Sean Miller Fiasco.
        .
        As you know, I don’t follow ACC BB that closely but Tony Bennett and KK could be The New Faces of ACC BB as the old guard moves out… IF KK sticks around more than 3-4 years.
        .
        Less than 30 days before PLAY BALL for real. 🙂

      • wolfdon Reply
        7 months ago

        BK maybe you could help Dan Kane, he is trying to,validate the existence of the letter of Disassociation.

    • TarHeel69 Reply
      7 months ago

      Thanks for the memories. My Saturday morning barber shop was many miles to the west in Cliffside, NC (Rutherford County), but with many similarities. In “Broad” Harriss’s barber shop you could rent a towel and take a shower for $ .25 or get a shoeshine for $ .05. I was always amazed at how the “shoeshine boy” could make that shine rag snap and sing. His name was Jimmy Serratt, and I admired him, even though he was black and lived on the other side of “white line” – imagine that. Different times.

      • BobLee Reply
        7 months ago

        Hathaway’s had a black “shoeshine boy” too’ but after the first half of this column I figured I might better omit that feature. Did your shop have those risque “Men’s Magazines”?

    • Doug Reply
      7 months ago

      Parrott and Pressly boys. Like NBA players, Kinston has produced a bunch of comedians on a per capita basis too. Sadly this latest event has the town in a heading in a direction that mirrors too many other communities.

      My pal Radio Smuggles alerted me about the Tweet from that board monkey. When I read “I would think that not being allowed at the premises of university sports activities (at NCSU) means something for a sports agent” I knew it was terminal. Actually is was an earlier one but you gave him a chance but he/she/it (you never know these days was SOL. LOD? LMAO!! 💥

      • BobLee Reply
        7 months ago

        Donald reports his little bro is getting “hitched”. Found himself “a nice widow lady”. I think Ms Cotton would approve. Happiness wishes to one and all.
        .
        I have no one but myself to blame for that twitter train wreck Saturday. As noted, I realized on his 2nd retort I had hooked a “nasty one” but I just kept feeding the beast. I felt so dirty when it was over… What made it so dumb for me was I had a similar set-to with a “razor-totin woman” on a St Louis Cardinals fan board just the week before. AAiiiieeeee!

    • MC in Goldsboro Reply
      7 months ago

      Good PC analysis of Kinston’s current state of affairs. Goldsboro is my home (actually closer to West LA), but I have an ex-wife from/in Kinston, and lots of relatives/in-laws (including one of the leaders of the current downtown revival, surname of Hill). Also spent 8 years at the Kinston DuPont plant, so I have a pretty good perspective. I think Kinston is a great example of that sucking sound that Ross Perot used to talk about with NAFTA. 3,500 jobs at DuPont and countless others with the many ancillary businesses effected. A very interesting situation indeed, but not unique by any stretch of the imagination. Always enjoy your columns, keep up the good work. By the way, congrats on the grandbabies. Don’t have any of my own yet, but with kids grown and married, we are never more than 9 months away, and looking forward to it.

      • BobLee Reply
        7 months ago

        Thanks. I am getting lots of requests to do an in-depth “Why Happy Days Died” column about Kinston. There are various macro economic factors as you noted re: DuPont as well as several “just because…” factors. Kinston’s Fate is not uncommon with towns of its size that for whatever reasons could not forsee / adapt to Tsunamic changes in socio-economic trends over the past 60 years. If SJAFB had shut down… G-boro might be another K-town.
        .
        Stephen Hill is doing “good things” with his various projects but “progress” will be slow if at all. One “famous restaurant” employing 30-40 people won’t be enough…

    • Robedixon Reply
      7 months ago

      As many my age I was born in East Kinston and of course began my raising on the west side. A decade or so ago I went looking the black lady who did some of that raising of me when I was younger and my mother quite sick. As I ventured into the projects on the east side with my car doors locked and fear creeping deeper into my mind I came upon what I had been told was the house that appeared to be where Ms. Quizzy lived. Not having seen her for several decades I knew I would not recognize her and frankly thought several times about getting out of my car and asking the people sitting on the porch if they knew where the woman I was seeking lived. Upon leaving my car and approaching the porch a voice rang out with my name from this larger than life woman sitting on the porch. I will admit along with the joy of hearing my name and knowing I had found the aforementioned lady the real relief was that I was safe at that point.

      • BobLee Reply
        7 months ago

        I’m pretty sure I took that same journey to visit Ophelia Isler in the early 60s. A “shotgun house” several blocks from “the projects”. Sounds like 60 years of The CRA has not brought much positive change to K-town. Huh?
        .
        Several years ago I asked a prominent AfAm gentleman “of our generation” … What would you do differently seeing as how LBJ’s Great Society hasn’t been very successful despite decades of Democ control of State / Federal programs. He had never given that any thought.

    • wolfdon Reply
      7 months ago

      Very nice trip down memory lane….I am in the 2%….though I am a son of Wilson a few miles away and about 15 years your senior. Not a whole lot of difference in our memories. I still pass through or around Kinston on the way to Emerald Isle once every year or two with the family. We gather at Parkers BBQ in Wilson to begin the trek to EI even though the family is now spread out all over the USA from Florida, Colorado, and Norther Virginia.

      • BobLee Reply
        7 months ago

        “on the way to EI” is about the only reason I re-visit too… other than HS reunions. I take “the bypass at White Owl” and stop at Neuse Sports Shop for a pee-break.

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