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East Side Story: Six decades of old-fashioned haircuts

Posted: March 20, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 20, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Jack Lee, of Canyon Country, has owned his barber shop on Soledad Canyon Road for more than two decades.

 


Jack Lee has been working as a barber for six decades, but he says he’s only missed two days of work in his entire career — other than the three years spent in the United States Army.

Lee started working as a barber in 1952 because there were a lot of jobs available for barbers at the time he graduated from high school.

“Two weeks after I was out of high school, I was in barber college,” Lee said.

Five mornings a week, Tuesday through Saturday, Lee walks about a block from his Canyon Country home to his barber shop at 18352 1/2 Soledad Canyon Road near the Canyon Country Post Office.

A spinning barber pole tops Lee’s shop, which he shares with another barber shop, in Canyon Country.

He opens up at 9 a.m. every day and usually stays until 6 p.m., walking around and reading the newspaper if things are slow.

Lee is 77 years old and plans to keep working as a barber until his health won’t allow it anymore.

“I really don’t want to stop,” Lee said. “It keeps me active.”

Lee once had a second job as a cook, but the barber’s job has claimed him for 60 years. The only real pause in his work schedule occurred 1958-1960, when he was in the United States Army.

After he came back from his time in the service, he went straight back to cutting hair.

Lee said that one interesting thing about hairstyles is the way they come back. He said the current trend of flat-top haircuts was popular in the 1950s.

“The styles have changed, and then they came back,” Lee said.

Lee’s least favorite decade as far as hairstyles go was the 1960s.

“The ’60s were a disaster with the long hair,” Lee said.

He moved to Canyon Country from North Hollywood about 30 years ago and has been cutting some of his faithful clients’ hair
since then. He said most of his clients are retired.

“When I was down in North Hollywood, some (clients) moved up here,” Lee said. “I cut their hair until they passed away.
Some of those guys, I cut their hair for 30 years.”

The clients are one reason he continues cutting hair at his shop. He’s a bachelor and likes to keep up with his clients.

“Some of these guys, I’d never see them again if I stopped,” Lee said. “I’d miss them.”

Lee said one of the best perks of his job is the longevity.

“You don’t have someone tapping your shoulder saying you’re too old,” Lee said.

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