#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!

Family & Friends & Ampersands…our greatest holiday gifts

Family & Friends includes my cats!


#75 Family & Friends
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First, to my own family & friends:

I love you, I appreciate you, I respect you,
I enjoy you, I thank you.
But most of all, I love you.


About this edition

I got the idea for AmperArt #75, Family & Friends, featuring our friend the fun & fabulous ampersand, about a month ago, after a friend & a family member came to my rescue. More on that later. (Thanks, Joe. Thanks, Roz.) 

Family & Friends is a very special AmperArt title to me & hopefully to you. I went through several iterations to bring you a meaningful, elegant piece that you might want to send to others with your own sentiments, or frame for your family room (or Family & Friends Room) wall. It was issued for Thanksgiving 2014, but let’s face it, Family & Friends are timeless.

First, you’ll meet my own family & friends (including my pets, of course). I am blessed with a loving family &  friends that are the very best. That includes you, too, my awesome readers & subscribers—you’re my AmperArt family!

Then, you’ll see how the Family & Friends edition was created. In response to several requests from subscribers who want to see how I create AmperArt, or how I even choose a topic, I’ve explained the process in the next section. (This particular Family & Friends piece posed several challenges even though the design is quite simple. It’s a perfect example of why each AmperArt piece can take 20 hours or more.)


My own family & friends

I am blessed with a wonderful family:

Mom & Dad (both gone but always in my heart)—both of my parents are the definition of integrity.

My sister Roslyn & my brothers Andy & Robyou are the epitome of love, friendship, honesty and generosity. You’ve always been there when your eccentric black sheep of a brother needed a helping hand or a hand-out. Thank you.

Mary Ann, you helped me get my very first van so I could start my business. You took care of us kids when Mom nearly died. And today you comment on every one of my AmperArt pieces. You’re very special to me…cuz you’re my favorite cuz.

My friends are so plentiful there probably aren’t enough gigabytes on the server to list them all, so I’ll mention the oldest and dearest, in the order they came into my life: Gary R, Gary S, Joe R (we’re talking elementary and junior high on those three), Lande WGregg & Jill, Mardy D, Deborah T, Lisa S (& later Sean), Jim B (if it weren’t for him I’d still be designing with a T-square), Mark H (& later Crystal), Pat B, Tara K, Marty K, Sandy J, Denis W, Jeanette F. Those who have departed, whom I miss dearly: Gilbert (the one & only!), Joe F, Preston H.

My furry family: Tiger, Bulldog, Donald (yes, a duck), Woofer (my very best friend for sixteen years), Briquette, Amos & Andy…and my current awesome creatures, Jeepers & Bebe.

I feel like I’m at the podium for the Oscars! Well, you see, that’s what my family & friends do for me.

Now back to what inspired this piece: Last month I had a serious circumstance, and between my best friend Joe Rinaudo and my best sister Roslyn (she’d be my best sister, I’m sure, if I had a dozen but she too is the one & only) they did something for me as a complete surprise, saving me from being homeless for the second time in my life. Immediately I thought of combining “Family & Friends” into one piece of art—to me they are often one and the same. My brothers & many friends & even a few clients have also helped me in need—tremendously. If I didn’t have to get this sent out right now I’d tell you about those Family & Friends experiences, too. Instead, I’ll come up with some new ideas to illustrate those episodes in future editions.


How this project began…and wouldn’t end

This Family & Friends piece encountered so many obstacles and morphed through so many changes I figured it’s the perfect example to explain how I create my AmperArt pieces. (more…)

#65 Black & Blue

65-black-blue


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My favorite colors are black & “charlie blue.”

Black is actually my very favorite color & yes, it is a color. (See “chaz sez” below.) “Charlie blue,” as my friends know it, is anything between Crayola Blue Green to cerulean to turquoise to cyan (one of the four printing ink colors). AmperArt #65, Black & Blue, features CBG as I call it, cyan, and one other blue which I’ll get to later. All my favorite blues are somewhere in-between CBG and cyan.

I am not fond of sky blue, navybaby blue nor royal blue. They are cold. (Yes, I know, my very favorite color—black—is definitely freezing. But we’re talking blue here.)

There is a very deep blue that does tingle my color bone. That’s cobalt blue. My first memory of that color is my father’s blue cuff links. Also the knob on his steering wheel to help turn the tires before power steering (that accessory became illegal because when the steering wheel snapped back the knob could remove a finger or two). & the cool red tail lights with the blue dot in the middle, which created a magical color effect.  They’re popular again today but I remember the originals on my dad’s 1950-something automobile. Probably no other recollection of cobalt blue is stronger for me than the bottle of Vicks VapoRub. That stuff felt ice-cold as the color of the bottle it was packaged in. I’m also partial to cobalt blue because it is the favorite color of my mother and my brother Rob. So that is the other blue in this AmperArt piece.

Vicks-jar-with-lid-circle

Just looking at this Vicks jar opens my sinuses! Other products in cobalt blue bottles were Noxzema, Phillips Milk of Magnesia (sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?), Bromo Seltzer, Nivea and Blue Coral.

In fairness to navy, royal blue, sky blue & all those that are not my favorites, combine them with various other colors & they create outstanding color schemes. Of course, the same could be said for poop brown.

I am releasing #65 Black & Blue during the playful days of summer, because that’s when I recall we’d get the most bruised up falling off our bikes, skateboards, or just playing in the backyard. I did, anyway. I was a real klutz. Still can’t ride a skateboard.


listen up! Black is a color! Not the absence of color, nor the combination of all colors. It is color. So is white. So why do people say it’s all the colors or no color? Because they don’t know the definition of color. “Color” means the description of the hue, value & tone. Pure yellow is a color that has a hue somewhere between orange & green on the color wheel, a very light value (high-key, or very bright compared to very dark such as navy blue), & minimal tone (grayishness; mauve & sage green have medium tone).

The color black is defined by no hue (red, yellow, blue, etc.), the darkest value, & zero tone. White is defined by no hue, the lightest value, & zero tone. So you see, black & white have no hue & no tone, but they are both colors.

If you want to have some fun with all the other colors, check out the Crayola website, especially the history & the Crayola Experience where kids (including big kids) get to play & create among all things Crayola, & see how they are made. If you can’t make it to the factory in Easton, Pennsylvania, watch this video: How Crayolas Are Made.

I love Crayolas. (I won’t use any other brand; the colors aren’t as pure, they’re waxy & they just aren’t Crayola.) I remember when the box of 64 premiered, with the awesome Built-In Sharpener. I probably have the few stubs that are left of my original set somewhere, but today I have The Ultimate Crayola Collection—152 different colors!—on my desk. I use them frequently, & always to sign important legal documents. For that task, of course, it’s Crayola Blue Green.


PRODUCTION NOTES:
Original size: 20×30 inches
Program: Illustrator
Lettering: Hand-lettered by Chaz DeSimone
Colors: Cyan, cobalt blue, Crayola Blue Green & black
CREDITS:
Vicks ad: flickr.com/photos/28153783@N08/ “SaltyCotton” has nearly 2000 photos of vintage ads in pristine condition. An ad designer’s or collector’s eye candy overload!
Vicks jar: Joe Corr on pinterest.com/pin/274930752225672732/ and etsy.com/shop/owlsongvintage Beautiful collectibles and antiques.
 

#61 Father & Daughter

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I wish my sister could have experienced that special occasion called the “Father-Daughter Dance” when she was in elementary school, but our father died from emphysema when she was 7 years old. The father-daughter dance, also called “Father & Daughter Dance,” “Daddy Dance,” or “Dad & Daughter Dance,” is usually held in 5th or 6th grade.

According to this article,

The first strong male bond girls have is with their father’s and this event teaches young girls what it means to be treated with love and respect.  The goal is that father’s will continue to be positive role models and that these girls will have healthy relationships as teens and adults as a result.

Fortunately, my sister did have a positive childhood and married a wonderful man who proudly took his daughter to their Father-Daughter Dance . . . or should I say, she took him?

One last thing about this AmperArt piece, is that our dad was a barber, so I selected a lock of my sister’s brunette hair (via computer graphics) as the ampersand. Daddy would have surely been proud of her hair.


listen up!Shoebox Letters: a precious gift for Father’s Day

I had the privilege of setting the type in a very special book for author Clayton Brizendine. This book is a collection of actual letters written from daughters to their fathers. It is pure raw emotion, stating everything from admiration to fun times to bitter upsets, but always mentioning love.

 

Shoebox Letters: Daughters to Dads

Every review is 5 stars, including mine:

I didn’t buy this book, and I didn’t read it as a normal person would. I set the type.

As I was designing this book for the author, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the experiences the daughters relayed about the dumb things their dads would do, and found myself sobbing at tear-jerking moments of deep love and bonding, or of loss and hurt. The most endearing part was retouching the precious old photographs and placing them next to words that described the daughters’ most cherished moments with their dads. Finally, in proofing the text, I did read the entire piece front to back, and it was a truly astonishing compilation of letters that range from the greatest love and devotion and pride for fathers to sorrowful accounts of resentment and brokenness. Every letter, however, does express a love of some sort for each dad from his daughter.

Clay Brizendine’s profound essay for each set of letters—and his passion for enlightening his readers, showing how to heal and bond relationships through the power of letter writing—makes this book a real joy to read and to learn from. This is the ultimate Father’s Day gift.

Finally, in working with Clay I have realized he is truly a man of character, honest and sincere, and wishes most of all to give his readers an enlightening, entertaining and memorable experience.

This could have gone to press sooner, if tears hadn’t clouded this designer’s workspace.

Am I promoting Clay’s book? You bet I am! This book  is one of the most precious gifts you could give your dad this Father’s Day, whether you’re a teen, mid-age or a senior daughter yourself. There’s bound to be a story that both of you relate to.

Read all the moving testimonials, or order a copy for your dad, here.

To all fathers, Happy Father’s Day. And to my sister and brothers, you turned out real good, even without a dad for most of your childhood. (Fortunately, our family was rich with friends and relatives who stepped in when needed. Thanks especially to Gilbert. He deserves his own AmperArt piece!)


PRODUCTION NOTES:
Original size: 20×30 inches
Programs: Illustrator, Photoshop
Font: Vladimir Script
CREDITS:
Bow image: www.hawaiikawaii.net (a blog by a student in Sweden about “kawaii, unicorns, flamingos, rainbows, and cupcakes…cute and fun in any shape or form”)
Hair color reference: www.latest-hairstyles.com (My sister’s a brunette; I think I got the color pretty close.)

 

#51 Salt & Pepper

51-salt-pepper

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Daddy died March 29, 1962, over a half century ago. I was 10 years old. He was 62.

Now I am 62.

You can imagine March 29 this year has been on my mind a lot lately. I am healthy, still feel young and strong (until I do something stupid at this age), so it’s hard to imagine my dad looking like such an old man when he passed away at only 62 years old.

But he always looked like an old man to me, and I loved him for it. That’s one reason I’ve always respected my elders. You see, my dad was 51 years old when I was born. Already he had salt & pepper hair, and still a full head of it in the casket. That’s how I’ve always seen and remembered him: with this beautiful, wavy salt & pepper hair that I wanted when I grew old. Well, I have it. Mine’s more solid gray, but that’s okay. It still reminds me of Daddy. (I never called him Dad, always Daddy as I was only 10 when he died. So if it sounds silly that I still call him Daddy, well that’s okay…it just sounds right to me.)

I could tell you a lot about this man I loved and admired, and I will. But one thing that is absolutely fascinating is that Andrew J. De Simone was born December 31, 1899. That’s the last day of the century before last! Which meant he was always the same exact age as whatever year it was—to the day. That’s why it’s a little confusing to comprehend he was 51 when I was born in 1951. And he was 62 when he died in 1962. (more…)