I Could Sure Use One
Day 17,000 stuck in the house and among other things I haven’t had a haircut for some time now. When I look in the mirror I see this long haired Rock Star, everyone else around me sees me as a shaggy dog. A slight difference of opinion, I’m sticking with the rock star look. Donna on the other hand seems to be Rock ‘in the early Pat Benatar look or maybe the Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders look, Lookin good babe!
Every time I look in the mirror recently it gets me to thinking about barber shops, I got to wondering if there are any one and two chair barber shops remaining in this vicinity, you know, the kind of barber shop where the barber knows every body’s name when they walk through the door. The kind of barbershop where the barbers friends and patrons sit around on a Saturday afternoon and just shoot the breeze. There was always a lot to talk about, catching-up, debate everything from sports to politics and everything in-between.
I thought I’d pull my barber shop file out and remind myself of what used to be in the good-ol’ hair cutting days in Conshohocken. Well according to my file it looks like there have been hundreds of barber shops in Conshohocken over the years.
Now when I came to Conshy in the early 1970’s I wasn’t getting many haircuts at that time in my life, I was happy sporting the “Bob Dylan” look. But I do remember taking Brian to Joe Camaioni for his haircuts. Joe’s Barber Shop was located at 517 Fayette Street back then, Joe cut hair from 1969 until December 1982, and he lived on Second Avenue and was a good man.
I also remember a couple of barbers on the Avenue’s including Joe Guarino at 425 West 10th Avenue. As far as I know Joe cut hair from the early 1950’s until he retired in the early 1990’s.
Then there was Richard Bate on the other side of town at 223 East Tenth Avenue, Mr. Bate had a lot of stories to tell, in his 62 year career I’m sure he had heard it all. Mr. Bate once told me that back in 1928 when he started cutting hair there were 22 barbers operating in Conshohocken. Think about what he had seen and heard during his lifetime that would include prohibition, a depression, World Wars I and II, and so-on.
Another guy that started in 1928 was Frank Mione who established his shop at 20 West Elm Street and Frank cut hair into the late 1950’s. Throughout the early part of last century West Elm Street was a happening strip of retail and service outlets. You could find tailors, shoe repair shops, a number of bars, dress shops barbers and many other stores.
Let’s just go ahead and run through some early barbers that most of us wouldn’t remember, there was William McLoughlin who established his shop on what was known as Claire’s Row back in 1884, the best I can tell “Claire’s Row was along lower Elm Street on the East side”. There was also Julius Spiegle who in 1884 had moved his shop next to the new bank building and Philip Bitner who was operating his shop in 1884 on East Hector Street across from the old St. Matthew’s School.
I found Irwin Walters who also operated his shop on Hector Street in 1888, and a couple of other barbers who operated before the turn of the century including Theo Hampton and Norman Silk who both worked from 39 Fayette Street back in the early 1890’s, my Recorder Newspapers show them operating there for at least 20 years.
August Wepfer ran his shop out of the basement of Little’s Opera House once located on the corner of First Avenue and Fayette Street from the mid 1890’s until 1909 when Charles Heck took over the business. In the basement of Little’s Opera was a farmers market with a number of different service businesses including a barber shop.
A few of the other early Conshohocken barbers included James DiDonato who operated at Elm and Oak Streets in the early part of last century, Peter Misciagna who had his shop at Elm and Harry streets throughout the 1920’s, Norris Campbell had his shop at 41 Fayette street throughout the 1920 and 1930’s, Thomas Harper had a shop two doors below the First National Bank of Conshohocken around the same time as Norris Campbell.
Harry and Benny’s (Guarino) was one of the better known barbers in Conshohocken opening their doors at 26 Fayette Street, (just off the bridge) back in the early 1920’s. They remained there until Urban Redevelopment pushed them up to Butler Pike next to the Dairy Queen for another couple of decades. Harry cut hair for more than six decades. In the 1920’s Victor Fredrick conducted a business at 9 East Hector Street. Shortly after Mr. Fredrick came Anthony Lincul who conducted his business at 7 East Hector Street. Anthony’s Barber Shop was continued by his son Rudy, who was also forced to move uptown in the mid 1960’s due to urban redevelopment. Rudy moved to the 300 block of Fayette Street where he continued to cut hair for more than four decades.
Back in 1958 Charles Guarnio purchased the property at 324 Fayette Street where he conducted a hair salon business until 2001, (currently Coll’s Custom Framing). Albert Chipollini known throughout Conshohocken as “Chippy” opened his stylist shop back in 1957 at 1109 Fayette Street, originally known as “Albert’s Hair Stylist,” the shop now goes under the name of “Natural Hair” as the fourth generation of the family continues to cut and style hair.
There were so many barbers back in the 1930’s operating in the borough that they formed a Union, they would all charge the same price, and raise prices together so their customers wouldn’t jump ship and go to another barber for a better price. A few of these union barbers included Leonard Bell, Frank Butera, Frank Mione, Benny Guarnio, Robert Reed, William Murray and Oscar Warner just to name a few.
In the 1950’s there was a Barber association that included Dan DiCurcio, Benny’s Barber Shop, Anthony Lincul, Joseph Schweiss, Frank Butera, Phil Gravinese, Paul Bruno, and Stanley Oscarpinski.
Anyway I could go on and on as there were dozens of other barbers in town over the years making Conshohocken men and women look just great. In more recent years I used Benny and Reds Barber Shop when they were located on Butler Pike, when they closed one of their employees John Querubin opened a shop at 826 Fayette Street where he cut hair until 2010. John was a barber I used throughout his time there and continued to get my hair cut when Ray Longo took over in 2010. Ray cut hair at 826 Fayette Street until January 2020 before moving on to greener pastures.
So anyway, due to this coronavirus, it’s been quite a while since I’ve had my hair trimmed and look forward to my next appointment, until then I’ll continue to look like a 1960’s rock-star, I just won’t be throwing any TV’s out the window anytime soon. My Pat Benatar looking wife might take exception to that behavior, Hey, it’s what rock-stars do babe.