I decided I wanted to re-visit a piece of my past today and get my hair cut in an old-fashion Barbershop.
The old wooden buildings and businesses that make up downtown Beaverton, have been reduced to about a three block stretch. In the middle of it lies this Barbershop with the traditional barbers pole outside the door, the same kind I visited as a schoolboy. The price was fifty cents then, not so today. John, the owner, ushered me into an old, orange vinyl barber's chair. With a trace of impatience, he asked me how I wanted my haircut. I had the feeling he was going to do just as he pleased, but as a formality, asked me my preference.
John is 73 and mentioned he had children still at home. I had to satisfy my curiosity and asked their ages: a boy 16 a girl 13. You devil, I thought to myself. Having reared two grandchildren late in life we found common ground for conversation. We talked of parenting, the way times have changed and the way our parents were. Sadly, he suffered through an abusive father's wrath.
He mentioned that he was taking his daughter to a piano concert in Portland, which led our conversation to music and its impact on us. I told him my childhood house had two pianos in it where both of my parents spent many evenings playing the music of their day. He asked me if I ever learned to play, and I confessed the only song I ever played was Beautiful Dreamer, long since forgotten. When he finished with my hair and collected his fee, he sat down in front of an upright piano that was right there beside me all the time, and I, in my most observant fashion, looked right past it. He began playing; I immediately recognized it as Beautiful Dreamer, the song my mother taught me to play some 60 years before. I was swept away in memories of my mother crushing out her Chesterfield King before she sat down to play. From her heart flowed the music of the thirties and forties.
As I listened to John I began to well up and fight back a persistent lump in my throat. I was in the moment, and I was vividly aware of it. This is that all illusive moment that I speak about being in, but rarely enter; but now, at this shop from the past, listening to the grey-haired virtuoso flood the room with the music from my childhood, I knew, this rare moment, was to be savored.