CUT OFF

Af­ter 44 years Mar­lene An­der­son has hung up her clip­pers

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY COLIN MACLEAN

Mar­lene’s Hairstyling has cut its last head of hair.

Owner Mar­lene An­der­son has re­tired af­ter 44 years of bar­ber­ing in Summerside. Her fi­nal day on the job was Satur­day, July 15, fol­lowed by a move to Hal­i­fax this past week to be closer to her fam­ily.

On her last of­fi­cial day of be­ing open for busi­ness, she was booked solid and had a wait­ing list of peo­ple hop­ing to get just one last cut.

She also had a stack of good luck cards on her counter and a phone that had been ring­ing steadily from peo­ple who, if they couldn’t get a hair­cut, at least wanted to wish her well.

“It’s go­ing to be hard,” said An­der­son last Satur­day as she worked on long-time cus­tomer Frank Parslow.

“You be­come pretty good friends with peo­ple.”

Parslow also wished An­der­son well, though he did it with tongue firmly in cheek.

“I think I’ll have to go to the courts on this one – get a stay or­der. I would have ex­pected at least three years’ no­tice. I think three years will just about take me as long as I’ve got,” he said, with a laugh.

He was not the only one play­fully threat­en­ing le­gal ac­tion to keep An­der­son in busi­ness. Some of her cus­tomers said they’re go­ing to sue be­cause they had hair when they started go­ing to her busi­ness (40+ years ago), but it has since turned gray and fallen out.

Oth­ers said they plan to rent a bus and show up on her doorstep as a group the next time they need a cut.

An­der­son takes their good­na­tured rib­bing in stride, and gives it back as good as she gets.

“I’m gonna miss all th­ese guys. This has been my life,” she said.

An­der­son started her work­ing ca­reer as a nurse, but quickly de­cided that pro­fes­sion wasn’t for her. There was, how­ever, one as­pect of nurs­ing she did en­joy, which was look­ing af­ter her pa­tients’ hair. It was, af­ter all, an act she’d been fas­ci­nated with her whole life.

As a lit­tle girl she’d go with her fa­ther on his vis­its to the lo­cal bar­ber­shop. She al­ways en­joyed those trips and re­calls it be­ing a place of great laugh­ter and ca­ma­raderie.

“I used to find it so fas­ci­nat­ing to sit there and lis­ten to th­ese old fel­las talk­ing about ev­ery­thing. I think that must have been where I kind of got the idea that this is a fun place to work.”

Af­ter train­ing as a bar­ber in Hal­i­fax, where she is orig­i­nally from, An­der­son moved to Summerside with her first hus­band, also a bar­ber, and set up a shop on Notre Dame Street. She was there for about five years be­fore mov­ing her stu­dio to Poplar Av­enue. She’s worked out of her home shop ever since. It’s been a good ca­reer, she said, and an in­ter­est­ing one – es­pe­cially given that she trained specif­i­cally as a bar­ber, so al­most all of her cus­tomers are male.

She has a great re­la­tion­ship with them, she said, and en­joys hear­ing all their sto­ries – and more than a lit­tle gos­sip.

“It’s not even about cut­ting hair, there’s so much more than that. It’s an ex­pe­ri­ence and I love the ex­pe­ri­ence of com­ing in here,” she noted.

“This is my so­cial life.” “You see this chair? This chair, if it could talk,” she said, let­ting that par­tic­u­lar thought trail off.

One long-time cus­tomer ac­tu­ally of­fered to buy An­der­son’s bar­ber’s chair “for his man cave,” but she’d al­ready ar­ranged to sell it to some­one else.

She’s go­ing to miss her busi­ness, she said, but she’s go­ing to hang on to her scis­sors, just in case.

You never know – her cus­tomers could make good on their threat of show­ing up on her new Hal­i­fax doorstep.

“I never say good­bye. I just say so long be­cause I still be­lieve we’ll see each other again.”

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Mar­lene An­der­son works with long-time cus­tomer Frank Parslow. An­der­son has been a bar­ber in Summerside for 44 years and has some cus­tomers who have been with her for her whole ca­reer.

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Af­ter 44 years as a bar­ber in Summerside, Mar­lene An­der­son has hung up her clip­pers and is mov­ing on. Last Satur­day was her fi­nal day in busi­ness.

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