Sloan Column: Patriot Barber Shop is a real prize
A month and a half without shaving had left me with about a half inch of thick, bristly white fur to remove from my mug. I made a quick pass over my beard with the clippers and then applied a good lathering of Dollar Shave Club Shaving Soap. I then proceeded to scrape away the stubble with my razor. After some moisturizer and about an hour wait, it was round two with the razor. Finished, the reflection in the mirror didn’t look any prettier, but probably did look a few years younger. No longer could I pass as Santa’s doppelganger.
The next day I made my first trip to the Patriot Barber Shop on West Evans St. to complete my manly makeover. Dan Phillip, who co-owns and operates the shop with his wife, Myrtle, paused from working on a customer to greet me as I walked in. He said his wife would be glad to sheer my mop, but it would probably be about a half hour wait. That was fine with me.
I took a quick glance around the place and realized I had found a bona fide barbershop, one that had stood the test of time. It was probably close to the same as it was when it first opened decades ago. I was immediately drawn in by its old-timey charm. It even had a framed photo of Floyd giving Andy a trim. How could you not like that?
A pair of barber chairs from the early 1900s were stationed in front of old pedestal sinks, leaded glass cabinets, marble counters and mirrors. I learned that most of it had had come from the old Sanborn Hotel. Also preserved were two ornamental coat racks and a 1919 cash register that is still in use.
Myrtle called my name and invited me to have a seat in the chair. As she fastened a cutting cape around my neck, she told me her name was Myrtle and that they named the beach after her. I could see right way that Myrtle was a real prize.
“Do you know what you want?” she asked.
I explained that I needed a real good summer cut, not a high-and-tight like the one’s from my days in the Marines, but pretty close. Myrtle said she had a pretty good idea of what I wanted. Before going to work on my head, though, she reminded me that she could always cut more hair off if I wasn’t happy, but there was no way to glue it back on after it had fluttered to the floor. As she cut away, and there was a lot of cutting to do, she filled me in on the shop’s interesting history.
Dan came to work at the barbershop in 1966. It was then called Glenn’s Barbershop and was owned by a gentleman named Glenn Saverance. He had taken over the shop after the former owner, Ray Ballenger, had a heart attack and died in 1963.
It seems Ballenger suffered a heart attack while working at the barbershop. Astonishingly, Ballenger’s wife had a heart attack at home on the very same day. Husband and wife were both taken to the hospital. They died never knowing about the other’s demise.
The very next day another barber working at the shop died of a heart attack.
Saverance took over the shop and a month later he suffered a heart attack. He survived, fortunately, and Dan joined him a few years later.
Saverance passed away in 1968 and Dan purchased the business from his widow. He changed the name of the shop to The Patriot some time in the 1970s.
Myrtle joined Dan at the shop in 1973. She was already a trained beautician, but when her youngest son entered kindergarten she decided to go to barber’s school. She and Dan have been double-teaming customers ever since.
In 2013, their son, Mark, joined them at the shop. Dan and Myrtle were eyeing retirement after years of cutting hair. When Mark unexpectedly passed away in 2018 at the age of 50, Dan and Myrtle returned to work at the shop.
When I asked the 79-year-old Myrtle if she and Dan were planning to retire anytime soon, her response was quick.
“2041,” she said as she put the finishing touches on my cut.
“2041?” I asked, a puzzled look on my face. “I’ll be 100,” Myrtle responded with a sly grin.
“You didn’t do the math, did you dear?”
That Myrtle sure is a real prize, and so is The Patriot.