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Boy Barber: 1917

Boy Barber: 1917

February 1, 1917. Boston, Massachusetts. "Frank De Natale, a 12-year old barber. Lathers and shaves customers in father's shop, 416 Hanover Street, after school and Saturday." Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.


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I'll bet he was good at it

You still can't beat a straight shave. I use straights myself, and know firsthand that it is the truly the manly way of shaving.

[What would you say to disposable plastic razors and gel? - Dave]

Kid needs a musical written about him.

It's Sweeney Todd's little brother, Teeny Todd!

When I was a kid

I usually went to the only barber in town who was left handed. He was the only one that looked good in the mirror!!

Better than flipping burgers after school

If the boy truly only works after school and on Saturdays, then working in his father's barber shop has got to be a lot better than mowing lawns or delivering newspapers in the dark early hours before school. On top of that he is learning a skill that is useful to this day. As for the lack of barber shops, I go to an old style barber shop here in Miami for my haircuts and beard trims. The barbers do use straight razors and speak only Spanish, which I don't speak, I get a great haircut every time.

A childhood lost?

I find it curious that we express a mild horror when presented with pictures of grubby shoeless kids of 12 working in mills but not if the kid is well presented and working in a barber shop. Shouldn't we still mourn the loss of childhood even if extreme poverty is not overt?

[Or we might mourn the fact that a 12-year-old with an after-school job is considered to have "loss of childhood." - Dave]

No Barber Shops

Years ago there were about a dozen barber shops in my home town. Now there is only one single chair shop. Most men go to the unisex women's shops. I have not found a female stylist that can or will give shaves. I used to get a straight razor shave occasionally. State law in my state now mandates that disposable plastic razors be used for health/sanitary reasons. I miss the hot towel and close shave of the straight razor shaves. Going to women's salons just isn't the same as the old fashioned men's barber shops. I have not found a women's salon that have men's magazines or the old fashioned barber chairs. It isn't the same.

I would have no problem with the boy giving me a shave. If he is working for his father I am sure his father has taught him and keeps an eye on him. Perhaps he even had to shave his father before he could shave customers.

A walking advertisement

His shirt may be grubby, but his haircut and styling (presumably done by papa De Natale) is immaculate. I wonder if the kid grooms his father?

So Easy a Child Can Do It!

I still shave with a straight razor - it is fun and requires some skill, which makes it more enjoyable to me. This picture is a good one to show the people who tell me its needlessly dangerous - there was a time when everyone used one, and even a child barber was trusted with it!

Although since he has never had to shave his own face, that means the learning curve was practiced on someone else. Eek!


Makes the hair stand up on the back of my head!

One Close Shave

Barber: "Say Mister, is that a mole on your face?"

Customer: "Yes, I've had it all my life."

Barber: "Well, you don't have it any more!"

—W.C. Fields, "The Barber Shop," 1934

Not me

No way I'd let a 12-year-old have at my face with a straight razor.

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