Mem­o­rable hair­cut.

Colum­nist re­lives hairy and scary times past

Cape Breton Post - - Community Connections - Mike Fini­gan Mike Fini­gan, orig­i­nally from Glace Bay, a for­mer rail­roader, taxi driver and teacher, is a free­lance writer now liv­ing in Sydney River. He can be con­tacted at

Danny Beit (BEE-it) was my first bar­ber. He had a bar­ber­shop at the corner of Do­min­ion and Emery streets in Glace Bay.

I guess I was four years old when we were in­tro­duced, and like all wee lads I had to be es­corted to my in­au­gu­ral cut. My mother took me.

It took some con­vinc­ing, but it all worked out.

I quickly learned I could trust Danny Beit. By the age of five I was tak­ing my­self to the corner of Do­min­ion and Emery. Yeah, a lit­tle off the top there, Danny, and short in the back. How’s the wife and kids? And don’t start goin’ on about Gump Wors­ley.

I went to the bar­ber re­cently and there was a kid in there, maybe three years old, with his grand­fa­ther, ahead of me. I was get­ting the im­pres­sion that the kid knew he was be­ing duped. No­body was telling him he wasn’t there with gramps; gramps was there with him.

He was sit­ting look­ing at mag­a­zines, play­ing with some toys the old dude brought along, cou­ple Match­box trucks. They’d play and talk and then ev­ery now and then the kid would stop and look around and then take a gan­der at the bar­ber who was run­ning the clip­pers up the side of some guy’s head, make a quick assess­ment of the sit­u­a­tion and feel the hairs raise on his neck.

Three years old or not, he was no slouch. Some­thing was afoot.

Then the sec­ond bar­ber ap­peared out of nowhere and in­vited the kid and the grand­fa­ther to the other chair.

Within sec­onds came the pleas to courage and clean­li­ness, a bribe here, a bribe there, the be­gin­nings of a brouhaha, and the kid comes down wip­ing his hands of the whole mat­ter, un­con­vinced, trag­i­cally res­o­lute, lead­ing the grand­fa­ther and the other bar­ber out the door. He wasn’t cry­ing or throw­ing a tantrum. He just wasn’t hav­ing any of it.

And what could any­body do? You can’t strap them down any­more. De­liver se­ri­ous but empty threats.

I should have stepped in and told him, hey kid, here’s what gonna hap­pen. You’re go­ing home to let your grand­mother cut your hair, be­cause you love her and trust her and be­cause she makes awe­some spaghetti. Am I right?

Big mis­take, kid. Turn around.

I could have told him that af­ter Danny Beit died, rather than hoof it up to Red Mick’s shop in Cale­do­nia, I trusted my des­tiny to the bowls and clip­pers and combs my grand­mother had stowed, with cov­eted and grandiose plans, un­der the kitchen sink.

My grand­mother was fa­mous for her spaghetti and meat­balls, but could no way cut hair. Though rather than dis­cour­age her I just hoped for the best.

My un­cle, who was coach­ing a mid­get ball team then, used to ask me if I got clipped at the ma­chine shop when I’d show up mal­adroitly shorn to help him shag flies. Some­times he laughed out­right; some­times he gave me a dol­lar, solemnly, to go grab a Coke and cheer my­self up.

But the wheel of fate kept turn­ing and even­tu­ally my grand­par­ents moved to a se­niors apart­ment build­ing. No pets and no bar­ber­ing al­lowed.

That brought me to Sandy Caume. Stylist and vir­tu­oso. In my mind, one of the best post-Bea­tles, Rof­fler Meth­od­era bar­bers there ever was.

You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear they say, but the first time Sandy cut my hair, I felt re­born and so pleased I made a bee­line to Ian’s Men’s Wear and bought a whole new wardrobe an­tic­i­pat­ing a bet­ter life.

Any­way, af­ter decades of stylists now, I’m back to the Ba­sic Beit cut. To each his own, but me I love to feel bristly af­ter a nice clip.

A fine hair­cut and a flour­ish of tal­cum pow­der and hope springs eter­nal.


Ev­ery hair­cut brings a new lease on life.

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