Sal was an old school Italian barber in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He came to the US as an immigrant, and soon set himself up with his own barbershop in Bay Ridge. He was in the location for decades, and eventually moved his shop a mere three blocks away due to real estate development jacking up the cost of his place.
He had such a thick Italian accent, so much so that when I was a kid I could hardly understand him. Sal worked on three generations of my family's hair. My grandfather, my father, and then me and my little brother. He knew all the stories about the goings-on of my family, and every visit would be like seeing a distant uncle, eager to catch up on things.
My mom and dad would take me to Sal almost monthly when I was growing up. Mom would sit and read, while I got my haircut, followed by my father. Sal would always give me candy after I sat still for a cut, and would then give me a devious grin when I started looking through the Italian celebrity magazines he always had. I never understood why there were so many bare breasts in those magazines, as compared to the issues of Time and People sitting right next to them.
My Dad would get the full treatment. Hot towels on his chin, then having the chair lie back so that Sal could shave him with a straight razor, as my pop snored away. I remember telling Sal that he would shave me one day. Ah well, perhaps in the next life.
Throughout junior high and high school, I wanted to grow my hair longer. Little did I know there was a conspiracy taking place to guarantee that never happening. I would sit in the chair, and remark "OK Sal, this time I really want you to leave the back alone. I want to grow it long!" Sal would reply "Ohhhh, no problem Philly, don't you worry!" Then he would go on cutting my hair. Once he started to work on the back of my head, I would catch Sal looking up in the mirror and getting catching my mother's eyes in the reflection, my mother would nod her head, and swoosh Sal would come down with the scissors once again eliminating any non-existent length in the back of my hair.
When I was home on breaks from college and came along with the family visits to Sal, he would ask me why I'm suddenly not letting him cut my hair. I would point to the growing ponytail and stick my tongue out at him.
Rest in peace, Sal. Godspeed.