#62 Shave & Haircut

AmperArt #62 Shave & Haircut

 #62 Shave & Haircut
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Andrew J. De Simone
December 31, 1899 – March 29, 1962

Daddy's Gravestone

ANDREW J. De SIMONE
Beloved Husband & Father
1899 – 1962

Before I release AmperArt #100 with a big celebration later this year, I wanted to include in the first 100, two specially-numbered pieces of my artwork to honor my mom & dad, both of whom I love & admire, & from whom I inherited my talent:
My mother, who died at 84 years old on February 13, 2001, for whom I created #84 Love & Devotion, issued this past February 13.
My father, who died at 62 years old on March 29, 1962, for whom I created #62 Shave & Haircut.

This was to be issued March 29, the anniversary of my father’s death, but computer crashes prevented that. So I spent an entire day writing & editing the story about my dad. I have stripped out everything that has little to do with Shave & Haircut, or barbering, and will publish that for Father’s Day. Then you’ll read, besides knowing my father as the barber, why my childhood was so rich with happy memories & abundant love. That part of the story, however, will begin with Mother’s Day. 

(#84, the tribute to my mother, is actually the 98th AmperArt created & this one, #62 for my father, is actually the 99th one created—the edition numbering does not relate to the order of issue. The next AmperArt will be #100, both in edition number & issue. I have no idea what the theme or title will be.)

barber shears

Daddy was a barber. Hence the title of this piece, Shave & Haircut. Being a barber was, to me, very special. I got to visit him at the shop which was walking distance for my mother & me from our house in Glendale, California. I loved the smell of the barber shop, always a spicy fragrance of tonics, & my dad “wore” that scent when he came home from work, along with the menthol of his Kool non-filters and Lifesaver mints. And his warm smile & silver hair. Here’s what I remember & what I’ve been told about my dad:

Born the last day of the century—my dad’s incredible birthdate. He was born in Sicily December 31, 1899 & came “on da boat” to America when he was 6 months old. The family settled in Chicago. What’s remarkable about his birthdate (besides being born the last day of the century—the century before last, in fact) is that his age was always the same as the year, to the day. I was born in 1951, & Daddy was 51. He died March 29, 1962, & he was 62. (I find that fascinating. If he knew his age he knew what year it was, & vice versa—a memory device I could use as I get more & more forgetful.) 

Daddy grew up in Chicago with his four brothers & two sisters, was smitten with a waitress from Indiana 16 years his junior (& left her tremendous tips, she told me), & chased after her to Los Angeles. They got married & I was born several years later. I have always liked waitresses (& left them big tips)—like father, like son.Barber comb

Daddy had his own barber shop, although early on upon settling in Glendale, he had a partner—his brother Sam. Those are their actual business cards in the picture below. Very special thanks to my brothers for scanning and sending me images of the business cards, and to my sister for keeping them safely stored. There were four barbers among the brothers: my dad Andrew J., Samuel J., Anthony J., and Michael J. My dad’s middle name was Joseph, so I assume the other brothers were too. (I have no idea who Joseph was in the family ancestry, except that was their father’s middle name as well.) The brothers grew up in Chicago, then relocated near Los Angeles. 

We drove to visit each of Daddy’s brothers who were all barbers, frequently on weekends. I’d play with their children & enjoy some spectacular dinners, both Italian & otherwise. I enjoyed being among the grownups as they conversed & laughed with each other. (I recall lots of cigarettes, cigars & Miller High Life—as well as Sinatra, Perry Como & Vic Damone on the radio.) I enjoyed all my cousins at those visits—Rosie, Chuck, Steve, Cindy, Irene, Ronnie & Michelle.

Another relative (whose family had nothing to do with barbering) we visited frequently was my cousin Mary Ann, who was always there to take care of us when Mom was in the hospital, or to help out in any other way she could. Her father, my Uncle Carlo, tended his garden where I tasted the best tomatoes in my life. He also brined his own olives, sending large jars home with us, & to this day that is a cherished flavor I wish I could experience again.

Those are good memories, hanging out with the aunts & uncles & cousins on the weekends.

Daddy had two sisters & one other brother, none of which were barbers or stylists. I have fond memories of all my aunts, uncles & cousins, on both sides of the family. I will tell you about them when I release a future AmperArt titled Aunts & Uncles. It will include my cousins as well.
Shaving brush

As for the barber tools, I loved the sound of the scissors with their constant snipping rhythm. There was the smell of the tonics & the talc, which Daddy “wore” home every day after work, smelling so fresh & crisp & clean. That was mixed with Spear-O-Mint Lifesavers & the menthol of Kool non-filters. A wonderful, memorable combination.

Barber tools and business cardsAfter each haircut I’d get dusted with a fluffy brush full of lavender talc, and then the best part of all (besides my dad’s soft voice & friendly smile): The Massage. Wow, I have never had a better head-&-neck massage since those by my dad, with the machines strapped to his hands that vibrated every finger deep into the scalp. His massages were wonderful with just his fingers alone, but with the Oster massagers it was amazing. (I inherited one of them, and used to massage my cat with the motorized device. As soon as he heard me turn it on—they were quite loud—Woofer would jump on my lap & start purring immediately. Most cats react to the electric can opener; mine to the electric massager.) I enjoy giving a good massage—and I’m always told “Don’t stop!”—so I wonder if I inherited that from my dad.

One barber tool I didn’t care for so much was the barber strop. Daddy was a good father, kind & gentle, but in those days it was normal for kids get a whipping with a belt when we acted up (I was the king of acting up—still am). Well, Daddy didn’t need a belt—he had something far more effective, the barber strop: two thick pieces of material, one leather & one heavy fabric, used for sharpening the straight-edge blade. Zowie! That stung! It’s pictured near the bottom in the photo of the barber tools—shown far smaller & less intimidating than in real life.

Straight-edge razor
I enjoyed visiting Daddy’s barber shop. I’d walk to there with mom, or Daddy would drive me to be his “assistant” at the shop. I would sweep up the hair on the floor, but I’m sure I scattered it more than anything. It was fun playing with the barber chairs, raising & lowering & swiveling them with the levers. Of course Daddy would pull out the booster seat to give me a haircut, and after he finished I’d give him a penny to tip him like the grownups. Doesn’t sound like much, but in those days, the 1950s, a good tip was ten cents. Remember the ditty “Shave & a Haircut, two bits”? Two bits meant 25 cents, and I recall haircuts in those days weren’t much more than that—well, double, but still only 50 cents. I don’t know how we ate so well, steak just about every night with full-on salad, vegetables, potatoes & dessert—unless Mom made her incredible vegetable beef soup, or lasagna, or spaghetti & meatballs, all from scratch—on a barber’s salary.

Getting back to barbering, I soaked up how my dad interacted with his customers. He was gregarious, cheerful, and always had kind words. I enjoy dealing with clients, and I often think maybe that’s part of my dad’s  influence on me. Mom’s too, as she was a waitress whom everyone loved. One thing I surmise is that I get my artistic talent from both my parents: the conceptual & lettering side from my dad (who had beautiful handwriting) with the whimsical influence of Italian heritage; & the design aspect from my mother (who told me once she would love to have been an architect) with the logic & exactness stemming from my German heritage. As for my perfectionism—that’s just a character defect.

AtomizerDaddy always had a box of Lifesavers (twelve rolls) in his barber shop. In those days they were used as breath mints. He usually had Spear-O-Mint, but sometimes Cryst-O-Mint. I liked those; they were Cryst-O clear. (My favorites, though, were Butter Rum & a strangely minty Choc-O-Late, which is no longer made. Every Sunday Daddy would take me, and eventually my brothers & sister after they were born, to Sav-On Drug Store to stock up on the usual for the week: First, each of us got a nickel ice cream cone, & there was a lot of ice cream on them for just a nickel. What I remember most about the ice cream counter was the beautiful red & white sign with just a touch of green, spelling out Carnation Ice Cream with an illustration of a striped carnation—the type that’s white, rimmed with red. We had all sorts of carnations growing along the side of our house. To this day the striped carnation, just like in the ice cream sign, is my favorite flower. 

After the ice cream cones, we would head to the candy aisle where Daddy would get a box of Lifesavers for the barber shop. I don’t recall if he’d grab his carton or two of Kools on our Sunday errand, or get them from the liquor store across from the barber shop. Most likely he sent a kid over to pick them up and would tip the kid as much as the cigarettes cost. He was like that.

Finally, back in the candy aisle, Daddy would pick up a Cup-O-Gold candy cup which was a special treat he’d give Mom. Sometimes she would share hers with me. They are delicious (like a Reese’s peanut butter cup but instead of peanut butter there’s marshmallow and almonds in a cup of chocolate) but hard to find. Once in awhile I see them & when I do I stock up.

Barber comb

Daddy died at 62 (in 1962) from emphysemia, & I’ll never forget the eerie wheezing sound of the oxygen machine he sat at for 15 or 30 minutes every day for the past months or years of his life. They weren’t silent portable devices like they have today, but a large metal apparatus with shiny steel arms & a huge floor-standing tank with knobs & guages & a horrifying mask. I can still hear his tremendous coughing echoing in the tiled bathroom, especially in the morning as he was getting ready for work. I understand he had malaria as a child, but no doubt it was the Kool non-filters that killed him. I have never smoked for that reason. (In those days, the mid-20th century, smoking was the norm. But our mom quit eventually, & lived to 84.)

Towards the end—prior to the stroke that caused him to go blind for the last days of his life—Daddy’s health was getting progressively worse. But he kept suiting up & showing up to take care of his loyal customers. (My dad would dress up in a crisp white shirt, suit & tie everyday that he served his customers, then add a white barber smock over that when he got to work.) His customers were truly loyal. As his health deteriorated so did his haircuts. Shabby as they were, his customers would have no one else cut their hair. They simply loved my father. That’s one of the finest testimonies I have ever heard about anyone. And right before he took his last breath, he told my mom to grab an envelope out of his coat pocket & give it to his brother. It was payment in full for a loan. My dad had integrity. 

I may or may not have cried between his passing & the funeral; I don’t remember. Was I trying to be brave, now “the man of the house” at just 10 years old? Did I not truly comprehend my father’s life had ended? I’m not sure. But I vividly recall bursting out in tears upon seeing Daddy lying still in the coffin. It finally hit me. I can actually feel that moment right now.

After Daddy died & we were cleaning out the barber shop, we discovered proof of what a typically stubborn Italian he was. Mom brown-bagged his lunch each day, and sprinkled a little Adoph’s on his sandwiches. (Adolph’s was a salt substitute, as Daddy wasn’t supposed to have any salt which he loved as much as the ton of sugar he put in his coffee.) In the back room of the shop—you guessed it—we found a one-pound container of Morton salt!

barber shears

Daddy, you were the fuzzy warmth of the gray sweater you always used to wear & the crisp scent of tonic, mint & menthol. You were kindness, love & integrity. I wish my brothers & sister could have known you as I did, but then I wish I could have known you longer as well. You live in all of us, I can tell, as I see your honesty & and generosity & kindness in all your children. I admire you & I love you.  I’m proud to be your first-born, too, the spoiled brat that I was (and still am).

Carnation


chaz sez ...

Check out the new “chaz sez” blog at DesimoneDesign.com, my commercial graphic design website. It’s mostly about design, typography, printing, publishing & marketing, but on occasion I’ll divert to a sideways topic that just can’t escape my ranting & raving.


Production notes for #62 Shave & Haircut:
Original size: 20×30 inches

Programs: Adobe Illustrator (ampersand), Photoshop
Font: Rockwell
Ampersand: hand-drawn
Credits:
All barber-related images: depositphoto.com (modified)
Daddy’s gravestone: photographed by Robert DeSimone
Business cards: archived by Roslyn Clark, scanned by Andy DeSimone & Robert DeSimone
Carnation: someone’s garden
You may repost the image. Please credit AmperArt.com.
To download a full-size high-resolution 11×17-inch poster, click on the image.

For professional graphic design, please visit Desimone Design.

Desimone? Damn good!

#87 Cold & Flu

87 Cold & Flu

 #87 Cold & Flu
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This is a high-resolution pdf & may take a few minutes to download.
Find printing tips & framing ideas here.

What happens when you have 3 deadlines to meet, you have the cold & flu, you’re sneezing, have a headache & you just feel like crap?

The computer crashes of course & you have to start all over on a huge project.

But I interrupted the “paying” projects to get a special one done—this month’s AmperArt—just for you. Coming up with the title Cold & Flu was super easy as I’m living it! The typestyle & colors are based on typical packaging & store signage for the cold & flu season.

And yes, I really was 90% complete with a huge board game design project when Photoshop unexpectedly quit & I lost all that work. That hasn’t happened in years. So once again: save, save, save!

The upside of catching a cold & flu? I love the taste of Nyquil, Luden’s honey-licorice cough drops & Pine Bros. gummy cherry lozenges.

smith-brothers-cough-drops-14ct-box-14One fond memory is that of Smith Brothers Cough Drops, both Wild Cherry and Black Licorice. I loved those! In fact, that was the very first cough drop. Sadly, they have been discontinued. (For those of you interested in marketing: By chance, the word “Trade” appeared under the picture of William & the word “Mark” under that of Andrew. Thus, it happened by a mere coincidence that the famous Smith Brothers’ trademark was born and the Smith Brothers became known to generations of Americans as Trade & Mark.)

Another favorite, and I don’t recall who made them, was  a long hard candy-type cough drop with a peculiar honey-horsehound-medicinal flavor. They were a brownish color & tasted so bad they were deliciously addicting.

Stay warm & dry this holiday season. Try not to catch the cold & flu, especially if you’re on a heavy deadline.


chaz sez ...

Check out the new “chaz sez” blog at DesimoneDesign.com, my commercial graphic design website. It’s mostly about design, typography, printing, publishing & marketing, but on occasion I’ll divert to a sideways topic that just can’t escape my ranting & raving.


Production notes for #87 Cold & Flu:
Original size: 20×30 inches

Program: Adobe InDesign
Fonts: Helvetica Compressed
Ampersand: Helvetica Compressed
Inspiration: Sneezing, Coughing & Aching Bones
You may repost the image. Please credit AmperArt.com.
To download a full-size high-resolution 11×17-inch poster, click on the image.

For professional graphic design, please visit Desimone Design.

Desimone? Damn good!

#88 Brats & Beer

 

88-brats-beer
#88 Brats & Beer
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This is a high-resolution pdf & may take a few minutes to download.
Find printing tips & framing ideas here.

Grüß Gott!

That’s “Hello!” in Bavarian. Literally, in a formal sense, it means “salute to God.”

My brother Rob suggested AmperArt #88 Brats & Beer for Oktoberfest. Danke, Bro!

In Bavaria, where it originated, Oktoberbest is actually celebrated on the third Saturday in September, and continues to the first weekend in October. Here in America, we “celebrate” during the entire month of October—whether it’s an excuse to guzzle some fine Bavarian beer or to advertise a cheesy Oktoberfest sale. Or to cook up some hearty Brats & Beer.

My mother was full German (from the Black Forest), so I, along with my siblings Roz, Andy & Rob, really should find some good Brats & Beer (I know one of us is going to find some beer!) and celebrate our close-to-Bavarian heritage. (Just like we’re also half Sicilian, so we are considered by some “true” Italians to be close, but not quite, Italian. True or not, our rich red succo beats the northern Italians wimpy white sauce any day. And our German mother could cook Italian like our dad’s own mother—she taught her daughter-in-law well!)

Sausage seems to run in our family, whether German or Italian. It’s all köstlich! 


Please comment here.


Here’s some interesting reading about the “real” Oktoberfest.

From Wikipedia, verbatim:

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest Volksfest (beer festival and travelling funfair). Held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, it is a 16- to 18-day folk festival running from mid or late September to the first weekend in October, with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. Locally, it is often called the Wiesn, after the colloquial name for the fairgrounds (Theresienwiese). The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations that are modelled after the original Munich event.

During the event, large quantities of Oktoberfest Beer are consumed: during the 16-day festival in 2013, for example, 7.7 million litres were served. Visitors also enjoy numerous attractions, such as amusement rides, sidestalls and games. There is also a wide variety of traditional foods including Hendl (roast chicken), Schweinebraten (roast pork), Schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstl (sausages) along with Brezen (pretzels), Knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Käsespätzle (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut or Rotkohl/Blaukraut (red cabbage) along with such Bavarian delicacies as Obatzda (a spicy cheese-butter spread) and Weißwurst (a white sausage).

The Munich Oktoberfest originally took place in the 16-day period leading up to the first Sunday in October. In 1994, this longstanding schedule was modified in response to German reunification. As such, if the first Sunday in October falls on the 1st or the 2nd, then the festival would run until October 3 (German Unity Day). Thus, the festival now runs for 17 days when the first Sunday is October 2 and 18 days when it is October 1. In 2010, the festival lasted until the first Monday in October (October 4), to mark the event’s bicentennial.

Here’s a fun list of “18 Essential Words for Octoberfest” from the Oxford Dictionaries website.

Glücklich Wiesn!


Please comment here.


chaz sez ...

Check out the new “chaz sez” blog at DesimoneDesign.com, my commercial graphic design website. It’s mostly about design, typography, printing, publishing & marketing, but on occasion I’ll divert to a sideways topic that just can’t escape my ranting & raving.


Production notes for #88 Beer & Brats:
Original size: 20×30 inches

Program: Adobe Illustrator (original ampersand link shapes), Photoshop (everything else)
Fonts: Embossed Black, Embossed Black Wide
WARNING: Do not attempt setting blackletter in all caps unless you are a fully qualified designer!

Ampersand: pork, spices & intestines
Credits:
Background images: graphicstock.com (superimposed & adjusted)
You may repost the image. Please credit AmperArt.com.
To download a full-size high-resolution 11×17-inch poster, click on the image.

For professional graphic design, please visit Desimone Design.

Desimone? Damn good!