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Thursday, October 8, 2015

I'm the Barber of Oakville ► Throwback Thursday

When I was about 20 years old I bought a barber's chair, something I treasured for many years.

I found it in an antique store on Lakeshore Road in downtown Oakville, Ontario. It was one of the first big purchases of my life. It was easily the heaviest purchase of my life, until I bought my first car, a Volkswagen Beetle, a few years later. The Volkswagen was infinitely easier to move.

It was a wonderful, comfortable chair, which was fully functional. The handle (on the left) had several actions. Pushing it out would allow the chair to tip all the way back to recline, which is what barbers would do when they needed shave you. Your head would sit on the adjustable, padded headrest.

Pumping the handle forward would adjust the height of the chair, using an oil-filled hydraulic mechanism. From its lowest position to the highest was about a foot-and-a-half. It was a whole lot of fun to raise the chair up to its highest position and then release it.

The chair would also rotate 360 degrees. It was far more fun to put someone in the chair and spin them around, making them dizzier than a GOP candidate trying to explain their policies.

When I bought it it was delivered to my house on Brant Street. I never really considered what it would be like to move it from one residence to another ... and boy, did I move a lot over the years.

This thing was easily 500 pounds. The metal parts were made from chromed, cast steel. The white parts were made out of the same material as old ceramic bathtubs. The padding on the seat (as well as the back) had horsehair above a set of metal springs. Everything about it was solid and heavy.

It took a minimum of 4 people to move it anywhere. Even when using a 2-wheel hand truck, it required a small cadre of folks to get it from one place to another. Stairs were its worst enemy. Yet, it made it up several sets of stairs to several apartments over the years.

The last place I had my barber's chair was my 2nd floor apartment on Roncesvalles Avenue. When I moved from there to a 4-storey walk up on Lauder Avenue, at St. Clair, I couldn't find anyone who would help me with the chair. It went into storage in a friend's garage, but I lost it when he moved without telling me, abandoning the thing to a new owner.

I still miss that chair. It was a beaut.