A Hair Raising Tale

Posted: Friday, October 15, 2010 at 12:47 pm
By: Doug Lund
Comment | Trackback Bookmark and Share

I love writing this blog..but sometimes, I can’t come up with one blasted idea that justifies an entire column. Oh, I could rattle on about the upcoming election and explain why I’m reluctantly going to leave the U.S. House race on the ballot blank. But anyone who, like me, gags every time another negative ad from either candidate comes on TV.. doesn’t need an explanation.   I could also rehash such hot topics as event centers, smoking bans and Brett Favre…but after careful consideration, I’ve come up with a riveting subject: HAIR.  I really don’t like mine very much.

Now, I realize I’m not going to get a lot of sympathy from those of you who’d give your eye teeth to have a full head of hair again. But, trust me, it’s not so great going through life as Moe Howard’s son either.

Best as I can figure I’ve had about 700 haircuts in my lifetime from only a half dozen different barbers. The first was George Woodard. He cut my dad’s hair so when I came of age (around three) that’s where I went too. I remember climbing up and sitting on a board that George had placed across the arms of the barber chair so my little head would be at grown-up level. George wore one of those noisy hearing aids with a long cord that led from his right ear to a battery box the size of a deck of cards which he kept in his white shirt pocket right next to the pack of Camels. He liked to tease me about needing a shave and then world  give me a whisker rub with his weathered old cheek against mine  which, as I think about it now, kind of creeps me out. Anyway, my dad believed that if you spend good money for a haircut people better, by god, .notice that you got one..and George was only too happy to accommodate.. trimming me right down to the nubbins with just enough left in front to be stood up straight with the help of a bit of butch wax.  I hated short haircuts..still do. They made my big ears look even more enormous..like a 49 Ford with the front doors open.

I eventually convinced my mom to let me go to the other barber in town, Helmer Dahl. Helmer was a much younger guy who treated kids like adults and understood that they were after more of a look like James Dean or Elvis than Mahatma Gandhi.  He would actually ASK what style you wanted and we’d point to one of the pictures he had posted on the shop wall.

haircut 2

Helmer Dahl on the left.

Helmer Dahl on the left.

I remember when one of Doctor Peeke’s sons told Helmer he wanted a Mohawk. There wasn’t any picture on the wall for that but Helmer said okay and began buzzing away until all that was left was a windrow of hair down the middle from the front of his head to the back of his neck. I’m not sure if Doc’s son had parental approval for this radical cut or if Helmer caught hell for obliging but, if the desired effect was to get attention at school, it was mission accomplished. Helmer also kept a nice variety of comic books to read while waiting your turn in the chair. Sure beat the heck out of “Field and Stream” or “Today’s Farmer” magazines offered over at Woodard’s.  Sometimes my friends and I would go into Dahl’s Barber Shop just to read the latest edition of “Archie” or “Lil Lotta” even if we didn’t need a haircut. He never seemed to mind our loitering..in fact, long after I’d graduated from high school and moved away, I’d still make it a point, whenever I came home, to stop by Helmer’s for a trim or just to chat. He was a good guy.

For the last 30 years or so, I’ve been going to Steve Klooster, owner of Headhunters on Southeastern Drive. I don’t doubt that he’s had to take a lot of heat for being barber to that TV guy because so many people think I wear a rug. That probably doesn’t speak well for his styling skills. But it’s not his fault. He’s tried, over the years, to get me to go for a different look..even gave me a permanent once to put some curl into my thick stubborn coiff..but it sprung right back to straightness within 24 hours. Steve has finally had to admit that I have “heinie” hair; which is to say it grows forward like a field of sunflowers leaning into the sun.  As a boy I fought my follicle fate by using great gobs of Brylcreem to overpower the natural grain of my hair by weighting it down with grease. Later our  bathroom would be filled with a giant cloud of Aqua Net hairspray which I bought  by the case. It stunk to high heaven, but was effective in gluing my rebellious hair into submission. When it was determined that I might be solely responsible for depleting the ozone layer, I switched to a pump spray, Lady Clairol extra hold, to get the job done.

But I’m tired of fighting it..so on my last visit, I told Steve the barber to go ahead and cut it all off. I’ve said that before but this time he knew I meant business so for the next half hour he was like Edward Scissorhands. When the shearing ceased, I looked at myself in the mirror sitting there in a circle of grey fluff like I’d sneezed in a patch of dandelions that had gone to seed.  Oh, I still have hair left but now it sticks straight up in front just the way  George Woodard used to do it.

Oh, I know you say it doesn't look much different but I lost a pound during the cut. Just got back from the eye doctor which explains the yellow goo below them.

Oh, I know you say it doesn't look much different but I lost a pound during the cut. Just got back from the eye doctor which explains the yellow goo below them.

Hmmmm, I wonder. “Linda..we don’t happen to have any Butch Wax in the house do we?”

12 Comments

  1. Jeff says:

    Doug The lesat you could have done was show us the
    new doo after all the history and so on.
    And it was a sad story to hear about Steve’s son.
    I went to school with Lois at O’G

  2. LeAnn says:

    IS THERE A REASON YOU DID NOT ADD A PICTURE WITH THIS. yOU KNOW EVERYONE IS GOING TO WANT TO SEE THE OUTCOME!! MY DAD WAS A BARBER IN CLEAR LAKE. IT WAS ALWAYS FUN TO GO IN THERE WHEN I WAS A KID, THE CHAIRS WOULD ALWAYS BE FULL BUT ONLY A HANDFUL WOULD BE WAITING FOR A HAIR CUT. THE OLD GUYS WOULD GIVE ME MONEY { I THINK IT WAS TO GET RID OF ME }. AND PEOPLE SAY THAT YOU HEAR ALL THE GOSSIP IN THE BEAUTY SHOP. BACK IN THE DAY IT WAS THE BARBER YOU WENT TO TO HEAR THE GOSSIP…………… SO DOUG GET THAT CAMERA OUT AND HAVE LINDA TAKE A PICTURE, WE ALL WANT TO SEE IT. P.S. I ALWAYS THOUGHT YOU HAD NICE HAIR.

  3. Doug Lund says:

    Okay, okay..I put in a photo.

  4. flattop says:

    I had a crewcut when I was a kid and went back to it in the mid 1980′s. I’ve had one ever since then. I think the Oster 76 clipper my barber uses has more horsepower than my car. She’s gentle, though, and is a true expert at giving the perfect flattop. Stop into Grange Avenue Barber Shop sometime, Doug, when you want a REAL haircut!

  5. LeAnn says:

    Hey thanks for the picture. I see your problem, after over 40 years in this business straight hair that has no bend to it and acts like wire is not easy to cut. And I’m sure it’s even worse since it turned gray. so why fight the spike and just get some gel and just spike it, after all alot of guys do that and i think it looks good. Has your barber ever gone through it with a razor? That can be trickey too because if it’s thined out too much it can make the problem worse.

  6. Christy says:

    I think you look just awesome as you have with other haircuts. I always knew your hair was real. Love you – Christy

  7. hardass says:

    i do not like the new cut….linda should punish you

  8. grouse says:

    Geez Doug did you use a driver’s license photo or a mug shot from the friendly police photographer downtown? Enough of this short hair horse hockey. The only heinie hair cut I ever had was in Fort Leonard Wood in ’66. Everyone got one and we had to fork over one quarter dollar for the privilege of having the Army humiliate us making us look as though we were all stunt doubles for the mentally handicapped folks featured in the moving Deliverance.
    You’re old now. Let it grow. There’s no drill sergeant or CEO or Jay Ruckdaschel telling you to cut it. Your;re a free man! You’ve got it! Flaunt it! The good Lord blessed me with a full healthy head of it, and by God, I’m gonna use it. The Lord will not hold him guiltless who rejecteth is gift of abundance.

  9. gp says:

    Some nice memories from “The Barber Shop”…. Do you remember how “grown up” we felt when we no longer had to use “the board” ? Remember the Coat Tree that stood by the door and the big long whisk broom that hung from it ? Remember when the barber would whip up some shaving creamin the mug, then put it around behind your ears and neck …then strop the straight edge on the leather and then “clean up” around the ears and neck…and then a little splash of “after shave” ? And those wonderful colorful bottles of hair oil ? Fitches…Lucky Tiger…Our “home town” Barber Shop also had two spitoons….uffda…feeda….they were horrible….Kids haircuts during the week were 35-cents, but on Sturdays…50-cents….cuz…that’s the day the farmers came to town for hair cuts and more… and the barber often cut from early morning til midnight. Ja…the Barber Shop….
    Good Memory Doug….I think you should get a flat top and a jar of Butch Wax…..and—
    Hmmmmm Do they still make “Butch Wax” ? GP

  10. grouse says:

    Doug, I forgot to ask where did you get that picture of Helmer? Isn’t that Howard Lee beside him? This had to be taken at somebody’s funeral.
    Helmer came to my rescue the day principal Jay Ruckdaschel was evidently not particularly satified (not a misspelling) with some aspect of his life and instructed me to go get a haircut now, and not come back until it was cut. This was pre-Beatles, so it was just a rock and roll pompadour. This was shortly after mom died, so maybe I was rebelling a little bit.
    I went to Helmer’s Barber Shop and he listened to my plight. He cut as little as possible. And like GP said, used a straight razor to “clean up” the edges.
    When I got back to school, Ruck said he thought he told me to get a haircut. I told him I did, and that he should call Helmer. I don’t know what Helmer told him, but the subject never came up again.
    Helmer was a Norwegian and a Lutheran….need I say more? He was the only barber a rock and roller could trust.

  11. Doug Lund says:

    The photo of Helmer Dahl comes from the 1964 Volga High School yearbook. It’s the annual school board picture. Helmer served on that board for many years. His barber shop was also the drop off and pick up place for dry cleaning. Many a haircut was interupted because he had to take care of those customers.

  12. Hey, Doug. Back in the 70s, my mom would take me to Helmer’s and I would sit on the little wooden booster seat so he could have at me. Two things about those visits stick out as prominently as my morning bed-head: 1) Helmer used to wrap this scratchy piece of white paper around my neck, almost like a priest’s collar, for reasons that were never made clear to me. It certainly didn’t stop the hair from going down my back, which leads into…2) After he was finished with the cut, Helmer would grab this vacuum hose, hit a power swtich, and shove the thing down between my shirt and my back. With a twinkle in his eye he’d say it was to clean out all the box elder bugs. Now, being all of six years-old, I thought this to be a perfectly reasonable explanation. I wasn’t quite so sure about the horse in the basement, though…

Leave a Reply