Thursday 9 April 2020

Haircut Part 1

On April 14, 1943 after piloting a Wellington successful night bombing raid over Stuttgart their plane was attacked and hit on the way home. Three of the crew were injured quite badly, the instruments were knocked out and caught on fire. Dad took a bullet in the calf, but it wasn’t serious. Dad crash-landed the plane on the beach at Dunkirk, suffering no further injuries. This resulted in two years and one month of enforced isolation courtesy of the Luftwaffe and Adolf Hitler.

Over the years I asked dad about his life during the war and like many that served he gave short or non answers to my questions. One of the questions that I asked was if he helped to dig an escape tunnel to which he replied that the older guys did that kind of thing. Dad was 18 at the time. When asked what he did every day in prison camp he said that there wasn’t much to do. There was some sports equipment, so they played soccer and baseball, probably chess and checkers. He did tell me that when a few hundred men get really bored one of the things they do is to play tic-tac-toe by shaving the X’s and O’s onto someone’s head. The game takes a couple of hours but when you have nothing but time to spend then it seems like a good idea. I never did find out if dad was one of the players or the grid. I’m sure it didn’t matter much.

When my brother and I were little, dad would take us to get our hair cut at the plaza by the German barber. The fact that the barber was German didn’t have a lot to do with anything other than he was probably the cheapest and closest barber to where we lived. Dad would always get us what we called a “brush cut” which is much like a flat top. Maybe it is a flat top, who knows. My grandmother would always give dad shit for cutting all our lovely hair off and then go on to say that dad had such beautiful curly, dark hair when he was a boy. Wait! Dad was a boy? He had hair at one time? It was a lot to process for my mind. Also, how did Gram get away with giving dad shit? Dad was the shit giver as far as I was concerned. Knowing what I know now, I am just happy that dad didn’t play tic-tac-toe on my head.

When I was old enough to go to a barber on my own, I went to the same German barber. This time I didn’t want a “brush cut”. You see, the Beatles had just recently done the Ed Sullivan show and short hair was no way to impress the ladies. If I could talk to the young me I could save him a lot of grief, the ladies won’t be interested in you no matter what your hair looks like. Anyways, I went to great lengths to tell the barber just how I wanted my hair to look like. I told him I didn’t want it to look like any of the pictures of haircuts he had on the wall, not at all! I wanted my hair combed onto my forehead to make bangs like the Beatles had. I wanted the sides and back of my hair to stay long and I guess I wanted the hair on the top of my head to be long as well. Basically, I said that this will be the easiest cut you have ever given, just trim the ends. All through the explanation the barber nodded enthusiastically and gave an understanding look at all the right places.

He put the sheet around my neck and then the little tissue thingy which seems to do absolutely nothing. He picked up the comb and a pair of scissors, turned me away from the mirror and the next sound I heard was the electric trimmers buzzing and I felt them dig in at the base of my skull and felt them go against the skin right to the crown of my head. Well…shit! The only Beatle I was going to look like is the African Dung beetle. Maybe the next time I need a haircut I’ll go to someone that didn’t train in a Luftwaffe prison camp.

1 comment:

  1. Great story Ken, and I can relate but my dad cut my hair, Beatle cut wasn't going to happen! You know at that time I really hated my father for his attitude, NO still do, saying that I'm looking for buzz cut soon. B