Scissors and Chairs

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Hair grows, and you need to get it cut. Where you go to do this depends a lot on who you are and what you want. If you want to be on the forefront of trends, you go to a salon. But if you’re looking for something more traditional, you are more likely to go to a barber shop.

Barber shops are very much traditionally masculine, though not macho, places. You’re not likely to find copies of Vogue or Cosmo. A long discussion about Lindsay Lohan is probably not in the cards. You can talk about baseball or boxing or your family. They are places to renew the feeling of connection: with the barber, with the other men in the chairs, with people in general.

There’s an unpretentious quality to the barber shops I visited. You go there to get a haircut, not a style, and being cool at a barber shop just doesn’t fit. You can argue — men in groups usually do — but the barber is the ref. Play by the rules, treat everyone there with respect, and you’ll keep the acceptance you were given when you walked through the door.

Originally from Iowa, Frank Miller came to Oregon via Japan, Texas and Buffalo, N.Y. His personal and professional photography can be viewed at www.fmillerphotography.com

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Q’s Corner Barbershop

When you ask Q Robertson — who, together with Eugene Ferro and Monri Bryson, has been cutting hair for the past four years at his space near the corner of High and Union streets — why he cuts hair, the first word out of his mouth is “conversation.” The former boxer sees the barber shop as a way to give people a home away from home, where they can form more substantial relationships than a chain store would offer.

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Q Robertson, owner of Q's Corner Barbershop.

Monri Brison works with a customer at Q's.

Eugene Ferro cuts a child's hair at Q's.

A portrait of Q Robertson, who was a boxer for 16 years, hangs in his shop.

A child's first haircut.


 

Daryl’s Style and Barber Shop

Chad Towers’ father, Daryl Towers, started his barber shop on Triangle Drive in south Salem in 1972, and 20 years ago it became Chad’s. The customers come in waves, up to 100 in a day. Sometimes every chair is full, sometimes there’s nothing for the barbers to do but wait and swap jokes. Inside of an hour, the same chair can be occupied by a man in his 80s, a 20-something soldier who rode in on a custom Harley and a wide-eyed young boy.

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Chad Towers, owner of Daryl’s Style and Barber Shop.

James Coburn (foreground), who has been a barber for 33 years, and Steve Turner enjoy a joke.

Elena Larkins, a 22-year veteran of cutting hair, with a customer.


 

OK Barber Shop

The first thing you notice about Mike Witenberger’s barber shop is the overwhelming collection of New York Yankees memorabilia. Books, posters, bats, balls (including one signed by Yogi Berra and Joe DiMaggio) fill every available space. One assumes he is from New York. And one is wrong. An Oregon native, he went to barber school after leaving the Navy in 1962 and has been working with Denny Holmes at their location downtown on State Street since 1972 — in a spot that has housed barber shops since 1907.

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Mike Witenberger, owner of OK Barber Shop.

Denny Holmes reads the paper as the morning begins.