I Had Hair Once, But I Used It Up by
(55 Stories)

Prompted By Haircuts

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In a galaxy far, far away . . .


"Regular haircut?" "Yup." Made his day.


Once upon a time . . .


Grampa Steenburg cuts my hair in his shop; just one chair; me on a booster board.  Two lollipops!


‘Tween years: the shop down the street.  The Yak-Yak twins, Bert and Ernie.  Really.  Wood floors.  Combat comics.  Aromas – Brylcreem, Wildroot.  Crew cuts.  Flat tops.  Butch wax.  Bubble gum!


College.  Haircuts?  Then, 1972.  Just tired of it all.  Local barber on Mass Ave.  “Regular haircut?” “Yup.”  Made his day.


Later.  Head shaving.


Read “Where Men Win Glory”.  Pat Tillman.  From the NFL to Afghanistan.  Killed by friendly fire. Look at back cover.  Look again.  And again. Distant mirror?



Profile photo of Tom Steenburg Tom Steenburg
Retired attorney and investment management executive. I believe in life, liberty with accountability and the relentless pursuit of whimsy.

Characterizations: funny, well written


  1. Laurie Levy says:

    Great RetroFlash, Tom. I remember all of these phases with my younger brothers. One finally let himself be bald. The other wears a toupee. Bald is definitely more beautiful.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Tom, such interesting word associations from your grandfather’s barber shop; the smells, the description to all the others you’ve encountered to Pat Tillman and his tragic life story, until we arrive at his pre-army photo with long hair like your Featured photo. Great juxtaposition and pungent RetroFlash.

  3. Reminds me that my mother cut my hair until I was in college near Boston. With an electric Wahl clipper that we kept in a cupboard in the bathroom.

  4. Suzy says:

    Great RetroFlash, Tom. Love your featured image, and yes, you do look amazingly similar to Pat Tillman. Surprised that you got your hair cut in 1972, the height of the long-hair times for men. I’ll bet that barber on Mass. Ave. didn’t get many customers your age.

  5. Dave Ventre says:

    I keep what I have left buzzed very short because the monastic look does not work for me….

  6. Khati Hendry says:

    You really painted a great picture with a few words–and the pictures were perfect.

  7. Wow, Tom, your resemblance to Pat Tillman is very strong! Had you noticed it before looking at that back cover?

    When I met my (late) second husband, he wore a toupee. I encouraged him to ditch it. Laurie said it right: bald is indeed more beautiful.

    • Thanks, Barbara
      No, I don’t think I had had any idea what Tillman looked like. I remember this especially vividly. I had just received the book and started to read it when I went to bed. The author is Jon Krakauer and it’s well done. After a time I was sleepy and as I reached over to turn out the light I turned the book over and saw the back cover for the first time. The “triple take” in the RetroFlash is real. I was wide awake in wonder for quite a while.

  8. Marian says:

    Amazing story, Tom. I was transported to the barber shop and gobsmacked with the resemblance to Pat Tillman. I agree, bald is beautiful!

  9. Bravo Tom, I love all the photos and the evocative memories told thru the prism of your haircuts!
    And sounds like you had many good years using up all that hair!

  10. John Shutkin says:

    Just a great RetroFlash, Tom. With your few words, you really captured the “gestalt” of these several barbering experiences. And I think I remember the barber shop on Mass. Ave. Chairs and mirrors, right?

    The resemblance to Pat Tillman is amazing. But very glad your story line is not the same.

  11. Tom, this was a compact and powerful tale, even without the Tillman resemblance. With that, you packed in even more, while sticking within the Flash framework. Impressive. And thought provoking.

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