New Spin on the Barber Pole
by Cate Murway
Without question, the nostalgic relic barber pole remains a classic American icon.
Barbering is one of the oldest and most social professions, a skill treated with dignity and respect.
This ancient trade goes back hundreds of years when barbers [from the Latin word "barba," meaning beard] were considered as important to the community as priests, doctors, and the clergy.
Red and white striped poles date back to the Middle Ages when barber shop attendants pulled teeth and treated illnesses by bleeding clients, bloodletting [the popular method of curing all ills], especially with leeches. The red and white colors on the poles represented the blood stained white bandages that were washed and hung out to dry. The pole, itself, supposedly represented the staff on which the patient clung during the barber's treatments. Originally, there was a cup at the bottom of the pole to hold the leeches. It is believed that the blue was added as a third color by Americans to commemorate the colors of the flag.
The barber's trade has a long history; razors, some made of made of flint and oyster shells, have been found among relics of the Bronze Age [circa 3500 BC]. Barbering was introduced to Rome by the Greek colonies in Sicily in 296 B.C., and barbershops quickly became very popular centers for daily news and gossip.
It is still the place where people of all walks of life can come in and mingle as they get their hair cut and enjoy great conversations with the barber and fellow clients, a classic bonding experience.
Miguel will be continuing the tradition of the historic Bristol on the Delaware barbershop as a community-gathering place.
What is old can be new again...on Radcliffe Street.
Miguel Angel Velez III, BHS ‘98 is reopening the former Joe & Nick's Barber Shop at 125 Radcliffe Street.
His goal is to maintain the roots, an “old & new” theme [modern haircuts/ nostalgic pictures] for the shop in which Joe Cuttone barbered for ¾ of a century. “I want to bring back the youth in here with an old feel.”
Peter Mannherz opened the Mannherz Barbershop in 1921 and Mary Jane Mannherz’s late father Nicholas operated it until 1971 along with the late Joseph Peter Cuttone, BHS ’35, a recognized professional in the field who cut Senator Joseph Ridgway Grundy’s hair.
Although it retains much of the old fashioned flair of its predecessor, he was able to open up the rather small "piece of Americana" with his choice of mocha coffee colored walls and burgundy trim. He hung the original ‘outside’ sign inside and displayed a “dashing” picture of the young Joe Cuttone.
Miguel grew up with his parents, Evelyn [Cuevas] and Miguel Angel Velez, Jr. on Pond Street.
He manned the outfield position in baseball and played basketball guard and he started cutting his brothers’ hair in their basement when he was 15 years old. “For me, it’s an art form, cutting hair”, he shared.
After graduation, he tried computer networking specialized training at the CHI Institute, but soon decided that wasn’t for him. He served 1250 hours in an intern apprenticeship for Steven Beitler, the owner of the well-established Windsor Barbershop on New Falls Road. Miguel gained practical experience and developed his technique in the time-honored profession of barbering. He established loyal clients who trust him after working there for 12 years.
“He is an excellent barber”, the owner, Steve commented confidently.
BHS Athletic Director Gregory Ernest Pinelli, BHS ’73 and his family have owned the building since the mid ‘70’s.
Greg had promised Joe to keep the property a barbershop and he was avidly looking for a new tenant. He received just the right tip at just the right time for a perfect match at his daughter, Stephanie Marie’s picnic.
Miguel excelled in his favorite occupation, integrated the professional skills and his career focus and he was ready to start his own business in men’s hair cuts, ranging from traditional haircuts to more contemporary styles, shaves, and cut designs in hair. He will make his “cut” in this world most pronounced, following his personal passion and again ensuring the value that has represented this classic profession for centuries.
Come in for a great high quality, no-nonsense haircut for a totally reasonable price.
The barber pole is spinning once more, as it should. A rare sight these days!
Greg secured a new motor and a new light and the icon that was stilled for the last two decades is ready for the new spin on the historic barbershop.
Miguel embraced the venture wholeheartedly, stepped back in time, “keeping the old flavor but modernizing it to 2011.”
“I came here as a little kid to get my hair cut,” Miguel commented.
But there’s a new heir in the hair business.
His daughter, Ava Adora Velez just turned 4 on March 5th.
Let us applaud him in this heartfelt endeavor that reinstates a Bristol on the Delaware landmark, offering the personal service that is unique to this business while enriching the human fabric of the town.
Not enough hours in the day for that much needed haircut?
What if you could stop in for a trim and meet up with friends – all at the same location!
Enjoy the warm, personal atmosphere, as well as the feeling of camaraderie found among the patrons.
Choosing a barbershop is like choosing a friend.
Thanks to the pole, it’s easy to spot.
Walk-ins are welcome!
Miguel’s Riverside Barbershop
105 Market Street
Bristol, PA 19007-5011
Hours of Operation:
Closed Sunday and Monday
Tuesday–Friday 9:00a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday 8:00a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
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Posted: Monday, September 1, 2014 12:15 am | Updated: 7:03 am, Mon Sep 1, 2014.
By Gwen Shrift Staff Writer
On the job
Jorge Gonzalez aspired to be a cop, but found a career using skills first learned from his father, who was good at auto repair, and then from a technical institute.
His job fits a protect-and-serve ethic, but without the badge. Instead, he and his colleagues at the Hesski Service Center in Levittown fix the thousand and one potentially life-altering things that can go wrong with a car.
“We’re kinda like doctors. Car doctors,” said Gonzalez.
“I’m working on other peoples’ cars, I take care of them like they’re my own. I feel really satisfied,” he said.
Gonzalez also translates for Latino clients, and with customers coming from Asia and elsewhere, aspires to pick up other dialects to better communicate with them.
It’s fair to say that Gonzalez is engaged in his work, a valuable quality Gallup Inc. research says is in short supply in the American economy.
The research firm estimated that “active disengagement costs the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion per year.” Disengaged workers are those who are not reaching their full potential.
Companies whose workers are engaged in their jobs, however, do better in profitability, productivity and other key measures, according to Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” report for 2014.
On Labor Day as well as every other day, this makes the simple phrase, “Do you like your job?” at least a million-dollar question just about everywhere.
An unscientific sampling of local workers found that some have sorted the problem of engagement out for themselves, migrating into work they like after trying something different.
Miguel Velez, 34, spent his work day Saturday cutting hair at his shop, Miguel’s Riverside Barbershop, in Bristol. Little boys whose dads brought them in for back-to-school grooming filled the chairs.
Had things gone otherwise, he might have been in a windowless computer room somewhere, minding networks on a screen. Though he had been cutting friends’ and relatives’ hair since he was 14, he took computer training, only to find he didn’t like the job.
“I like to make people feel good and look good,” he said, adding that customers trust him for that in advance of weddings and other special occasions.
So in a certain regard, computer links may exist in real time, but a barber’s work is for the ages.
“Those are pictures that are going to be sitting on peoples’ mantles for years,” Velez said.
Business was a little slow down the street at the Kelch House restaurant, which paradoxically made Jenna Kelch’s workday several times more complicated.
Kelch, who lives in Holland and is a daughter of owner Dawn Kelch, was the restaurant’s hostess, bartender, waitress and busperson, the latter task because the usual busboy was not at work.
“When people call out (of work), you gotta deal with it,” she said.
“It’s very hard work, but there is something about hard work that is very rewarding. I don’t think I could have a desk job, necessarily,” she said before darting off to handle a takeout order and seat a party of four.
Emergency medical technicians spent part of their Labor Day weekend working, but not for wages.
“Thinking of something greater than yourself is needed these days,” said Neil Watson, who with fellow EMT Lamont Harrell spent the day installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors around Bristol, while also on call with the Bristol Fire Co.’s quick-response service.
The service answers about 200 emergency calls a year in the borough, stabilizing sick and injured people until paramedics arrive.
“I like it,” said Harrell. “You get to meet different people and try to make their day better, because they’re having a bad day when they see us.”
The waitresses at the Radcliffe Cafe, a small eatery in Bristol, also spent Saturday morning improving customers’ moods with plates of eggs and bacon, sandwiches, sausages and other offerings.
Two workers with other career prospects chose waitressing — along with waitering — the sixth-largest occupation in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — because it gives them money to pay their bills and time to be with their children.
Mary O’Donovan, of Levittown, was a legal secretary, an occupation she found “too stressful.”
“I did it for years, but this is a great place,” she said, indicating a dining room crowded with customers and fellow waitresses laden with plates of food and pots of coffee.
Her colleague, Dawn Pezzeca, who is a licensed practical nurse by training, calls herself “a Jane of all trades,” having also studied hairdressing.
“You gotta be on your toes, it’s hard, but it’s good,” she said of waitressing. Besides the earnings, the hours allow her to be home with her kids after school.
It also gives free rein to her own form of job engagement.
“Everyone’s so friendly,” she said. “I can be myself. Who wants a grouchy waitress?”