‘What is said in the barbershop stays in the barbershop’


Published on February 21, 2014

CUTLINE: Dave (Pidge) Morris, left, Jaime Ramsay and Shirley Fowler are welcome faces at the barbershop Danny Joseph has been visiting for a routine trim as long as he remembers having hair. SUBMITTED PHOTO

It is universally acknowledged that the centre of the democratic universe in any town or city in the free world is the barbershop.

 Think of it as a microcosmic Las Vegas. What is said in the barbershop stays in the barbershop. And my barbershop is no different.

Since 1953, when my grandmother stopped pushing the blue plate special the length of the counter, I have been a loyal customer of this shop that morphed from Joseph’s Cafe. Sure, I went across the street because that shop also morphed from the original and the arguments with Yankee fans were more heated there. I will try as best I can to honour historic chronology.

In 1953,I believe, Harold Church and Percy Tattrie bought the space from my grandparents and they introduced me to that unholy hell that was an infant’s haircut and still is, judging from what I see there. The cast in those faraway dark ages were Perc, Harold and his brother Steve. In time it welcomed Gerald (Chub) Bartlett, Harry MacNutt, Jim Ramsay, Edgar Henderson, Laura Perry and Randy Tattrie; subsequently, Mike Burton, Shirley Fowler, Dave (Pidge) Morris and its present owner Jaime Ramsay. Forgive my memory, long graced with too much grape, if I have omitted anyone.

Allow me the latitude to characterize my barbershop today. Shirley Fowler, who has been there since her graduation in 1987, is the quiet, strong alpha female. She is the glue that prevents anarchy that could potentially erupt at any moment. She is an island of sanity in a sea of sports and political turmoil. Morris is an all too interesting character. Hobbit-like in stature, his enormous memory and story-telling ability often leaves patrons in stitches. He says he can actually remember when the Maple Leafs - ready for this - won a Stanley Cup. Then again leaving one in stitches is perhaps a poor analogy for a barbershop. In a past life he was renowned for his sports memorabilia collection in Parrsboro.

Jaime Ramsay, son of my former barber, is the major domo. I can’t use the term boss because the other two would laugh at that assertion. Large in stature, he is a veritable gentle giant. Well-known in standard bred circles, a doting father and has the vocabulary of a drunken sailor when the occasion calls for it. He has been cutting my hair ever since I can vaguely remember when last I had any. He has seduced me into having any number of styles and insists he knows my head better than I.

You can feel the weight of the world leave your shoulders when first you walk in. Once in, you realize that every politician is a crook, the Leafs are history’s greatest team and barbers are really sex therapists. They know everything about everything and we buy into that premise.

We pay them to take really sharp instruments to our face and head and invariably our trust in mankind (and Shirley) is multiplied a thousand fold. They tell us that Stephen Harper has been on the wrong side of history constantly and that Justine Trudeau kicks puppies when we aren’t looking. We are so warm and fuzzy inside that cocoon “thingy” they throw over us that we care for very little except wondering how the heck all that hair got on the floor. Luckily, I no longer have that concern.

Maybe, just maybe, a barbershop is where the Democrats and the Republicans can solve the issue of socialized medicine. Here’s hoping.


Danny Joseph is a lifelong resident of Truro.