Sure, hair salons cut hair, but they do so much more. More than what I’d ever need.
Most of the people doing the cutting aren’t even called barbers anymore – they’re hair stylists or hairdressers. Thankfully, the military bases still have barber shops on them. The places outside of the military bases where I got my hair cut before 1997 don’t even exist anymore.
When I was stationed here from 1992 to 1996, I got my hair cut by an old guy at a barber shop on 7th Street and Thomas Road. He was an Italian immigrant and a World War II veteran and while there were other barbers in the shop, I liked the things he talked about when he cut my hair. He passed away after I retired in 1998.
I don’t know where any barber shops exist outside of Luke Air Force Base. That’s where I get my hair cut now, but not very often – I’m getting a haircut this weekend. When I tell one of the barbers there I want a Marine Corps haircut, I usually have to explain it, but not always. If I specify a short, military haircut, I usually get the kind of haircut I want.
I experienced “sticker shock” the first time after returning to the United States in July of 2013. Haircuts were almost $10.00, at least twice as much as they cost before I left in 2006. That’s still inexpensive compared to how much the hair salons in the city charge for a simple haircut.
When I moved to the Philippines in 2006, I was pleasantly surprised that traditional barber shops still existed in Olongapo City. I know for a fact that at least two are still open. I get my hair cut at the one next to a foreign money exchange on Rizal Avenue (or it could be on Magsaysay Drive, but I’m not there now and my memory isn’t what it used to be).
The only thing I don’t like about haircuts in Olongapo is that the barbers insist on giving a neck massage when they’re done. It was like that when I was stationed on Okinawa from 1987 to 1988 as well, except that those were Japanese barbers instead of Filipino.
These barber shops are holdovers from when the Subic Bay Freeport Zone was still a United States naval base. They cut hair for sailors and marines alike (since marines were often deployed on Navy ships). If I happen to get a younger barber, I usually have to specify “two fingers” above the ears to get the kind of haircut I want.
The last time I got a haircut in Olongapo, the price was 50 pesos. Including the tip I always gave, I spent no more than 100 pesos (which is just a little over two United States dollars). If it’s higher when I return to the Philippines, it’ll still be cheaper than any place here in Phoenix.
I know people who are too cheap to pay for haircuts no matter how low the prices are. They’ll cut their own hair (usually by shaving their heads) or have a friend do it for them. The only thing they usually invest in are hair clippers and scissors (barber shears).
I don’t know about anyone else, but I prefer leaving the haircuts to the professionals – barbers who work inside barber shops. If I can get cheap haircuts, that’s great. If not, oh well. I’d rather spend a little extra than having to resort to getting my head shaved again – something I didn’t have a choice about when I joined the Marine Corps in 1978.
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