By Rosalie Tirella
A gentle soul. file photos by Rose T.
Found these old InCity Times file photos. I took these pictures of my favorite barber, the manager at G’s Cuttin’ Up, in Piedmont, years ago. I wrote a story about the barber, older, soft-spoken, thoughtful, gentle with the boys who came off some of the meanest streets in Worcester. The boys came in for a haircut, the newest being called the “fade,” but they left G’s feeling respected, listened to, nurtured.
Where can Black boys feel this way in America today besides church and home? And sometimes not even at home. Look how quickly the 16-year-old honor student in Kansas City was shot – in the head – for just knocking on the wrong door, hoping to pick up his sister. He was deemed “criminal” because he was Black.
Black boys respected, even nurtured, at G’s.
And now the tears roll down the boy’s cheeks because he is in such pain, physical and emotional. His head throbs with the terrifying question: Why would anyone want to kill me?
Braggadocio was left at G’s Cuttin’ Up’s front door, and an almost religious experience followed in this funky barbershop designed to look like the inside of a space ship with its silver walls and metallic arches. Quiet, meditative, the boys relaxed and listened as the old barber asked them about school or family. They responded in hushed tones and smiled a lot. The old barber was never rough or fast; he asked them what they wanted and his electric razor smoothly trimmed away…the zzzzzzzzz sound soothing, the cute, always clean, barber’s cape catching the soft fuzz.
Boys left G’s Cuttin’ Up with a terrific fade, but they walked back into Piedmont with much more than that: they re-entered a tough, unloving America with a sense of self. I used to think – because I visited G’s pretty often to deliver InCity Times – a boy could come in to that spaceship barbershop on Pleasant Street month after month for his trims and learn to be a real man just by talking to and watching this barber. He was one of the best in Worcester, drawing customers from all over the city. More important, he was a wonderful person. I forgot his name, it was so long ago. But I’ll never forget him, my Piedmont barber.