Two haircuts by (4 Stories)

Prompted By Haircuts

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First haircut.  My mother gave me a mohawk haircut to play a native American in a Cub Scout play.  This was in the 1950s, nothing was PC; my knowledge of native Americans was from cowboy TV.  It was not a real mohawk; the sides were trimmed, leaving longer hair in a 2″ strip on top.

Second haircut.  After arriving in Cambridge to begin college, I felt compelled to get a haircut.  My hair was not long, shorter than my New Hampshire roommate’s, and why I thought cutting was needed escapes me.  I did not get another haircut for a long time.


Profile photo of Michael Wallace Michael Wallace

Characterizations: well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Things were certainly different in the ’50s than they are today, when the SF School Board is renaming schools because no one (not even Lincoln) holds up to their exacting standards. So I think it’s cute that your mother gave you a version of a Mohawk. And you’re correct. It would not be acceptable today.

    Long hair was becoming the norm when you went off to college (and got MUCH longer while you were there). Your comment on your new roommate’s length versus yours reflects on the era and is interesting, as is your closing remark; I’m sure it was a long time before your next hair cut.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    I love the contrast between these two haircuts, Michael. Perfect RetroFlash.

  3. John Shutkin says:

    Great RetroFlash, Mike. As you noted, I would have loved to see a picture of the mohawk.

    As to the second haircut, do you remember where you got it cut? I remember going to a barber shop off of Mount Auburn Street, though the guys there mainly yelled at us for not getting haircuts more frequently — talk about bad marketing. So I mainly waited until I was home on vacation and went to my usual guy from high school. Much nicer, and probably cheaper.

  4. Suzy says:

    Love this RetroFlash, Mike, you have certainly mastered the form! I agree that it would be nice to see pictures of both haircuts. I’m surprised there are no family pictures of you in that Cub Scout play. But as to college days, I have almost no pictures either. That just wasn’t something we did then.

    • Our camera in those days was a “box” camera. It was sort of a black cube, 4″-6″ on a side, that needed to be held level to see what was in the viewfinder and take a picture. There was no flash, so our pictures were all outside on sunny days!

  5. Khati Hendry says:

    So how is the ponytail coming along? In times of COVID, that seems to be making a comeback.

  6. I think the one I went to was right on Mass Ave opposite Wigglesworth, but when I look at a current map there is no barber shop there. My memory is not the greatest, however. And the Square has changed.

  7. Yes, too bad you don’t have a photo of your “fauxhawk,” Michael. We’ve come a long way, both PC-wise and camera-wise.

  8. Marian says:

    Great to learn about notable haircuts for guys, Michael, and I love that 1950s mohawk. Very different from those crew cuts many of the boys had when I was in elementary school.

  9. I have a memory for so many details of college life, yet I cannot recall going to a barbershop during my undergrad years. (After college as I continued in the Boston area, yes, I do remember.) This makes me think I only got my haircut about twice a year! And I guess that was in my home state of Indiana,.
    I guess that Mohawk would have looked strange when you put your Davey Crockett coonskin cap over it, right?

  10. I have never been a great hat-wearer, and my childhood collection consisted mostly of baseball caps in the summer and stocking caps for the cold winter weather in Ohio. These days the baseball caps are nearly gone, though they are good for blocking a bit of sun. Never owned a coonskin.

  11. Good retro flash, Michael. I remember getting the occasional, at least my first year, haircut at a shop across from that wonderful book store that was on Mt. Auburn – you know, where the small strips bounded by Mt. Auburn and ??? converged??

  12. Brief but tells it ask Michael, very well written Retroflash!
    Hoping to read more of your stories!

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