What a pleasure it is to get a haircut at Ron Pine’s barbershop.
Time doesn’t stand still there, but it certainly slows down a bit. That’s because Ron seems somewhat eternal.
And he’s so darn good at making a guy look sharper, and fun to boot.
Describing Pine’s barbershop is old news on Main Street in Platte City. Student photographers come to town and discover a barber pole, antique barber chairs, neat stuff on the walls, and a guy that seems to have been there forever. So they fire away with the 35 mm cameras and put his photo in magazines and portfolios.
This happens every decade or so. Some of my friendly local news competition has profiled the shop.
But I’ve never gotten around to writing about the place at length, so it’s time. Not that anything’s changing.
How long is Ron (Ronnie to some) going to keep clipping around the ears?
“I don’t know,” he says, “but the long days are starting to get to me.”
The problem is that some of his customers like to come in early and some like to come in late, Ron says. So he gets in at 7 a.m. or a little after, but often winds up there until 7 p.m. or so.
Those customers are pretty loyal. In part because having someone whacking away with scissors inches away from your head and neck involves personal space and anyone with any sense prefers someone they’ve come to trust.
Then there’s the matter of looking good. Myself and many others have experienced haircuts at other barbers that, well, made us wince and pray for fast growth.
So guys come in, often waiting for a good long spell for the chair to open up. At least Ron keeps good magazines around.
You don’t always find good magazines these days at places where you have to wait like a doctor or dentist office. But readable magazines are profuse on the tables at Pine’s.
Sometimes you wish the wait were longer so you could finish reading.
But about that problem of Ron’s long work days, I’d say the barber is pretty darn loyal to his customers. That’s one reason the day is long.
Ron must have a very deep-seated appreciation of people and community, too. He also must enjoy a good story or be tolerant of the boring ones. They come in droves daily.
Pine’s Barbershop is also a place of learning for those that will.
Since I didn’t grow up in Platte County, I might have a curiosity about this person, that place, or past events. Chances are good that while I’m getting a trim I can also get an answer about such things from someone who is very observant and has a darn good memory.
It’s a fine thing to be sitting in the chair, gaze upon the wall ahead, and see a photo of country music singers from a bygone era, and be able to get a detailed history about them. Or perhaps we’ll pause in the haircut to rummage through some of Keith Myers’ photographs or historic old pics that Keith has restored.
Ron grew up in the rural Camden Point area. His father rented a farm, then he bought one, then they moved again when his Dad bought another place. He first cut hair for others when he was a teenager, then he started barbering fulltime in 1959, right after he graduated from North Platte High School.
Over the years he raised a family in Platte City and fixed up some houses, some historic. His work with the demolition derby helped the Platte County Fair revitalize decades ago. He’s probably has had a hand in a lot of community service we don’t even know about.
I do not wish to paint a picture of a person stuck in the past.
The front part of Pine’s Barbershop may look old fashioned, but just beyond is the women’s hair salon. Long ago I remarked to him that having women in the shop sort of bucked the tradition of a barbershop being a men-only place, since I remember the barbershops of boyhood.
When I got big enough to walk up to my hometown shop for a haircut by myself, $1.25 in my pocket, I felt pretty manly. In fact, in my shop were by 1960s standards somewhat racy photos in the True Detective magazines, which I only saw while I was waiting to get my crew cut or flat top hair cut.
And of all things, Ron knew the hometown barber of my boyhood in Nevada, Mo.
But back on the guy thing, Ron matter of fact stated that he enjoyed having women around in the combination barbershop and hair salon, and why not? Upon reflection, I realized he was far wiser than me and a progressive to boot.
Tanning beds, hair gels, buzz cuts, trim it just above the shoulders, Ron’s seen it all. It’s always a relief to open the door and see him standing by the chair, chatting with someone getting a trim. You know you’re about to get a good haircut and interesting conversation.
I hope he knows how much that’s appreciated by many, many people.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.