#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!

#77 Seek & Find – A Resolution & Solution for the New Year

Seek & Find what you need in 2015

 


#77 Seek & Find
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This is a high-resolution pdf & may take a few minutes to download.
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Someone dear & close to me inspired the title Seek & Find for this New Year’s AmperArt.

2014 was a tough year for many of us. Loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, loss of property.

I was even at a loss of how to turn the numerals 2-0-1-5 into an ampersand, a tradition for every New Year’s AmperArt rendering so far. Absolutely nothing came to mind, so I simply decided to skip this year’s endeavor & issue a non-new-year piece instead.

But then I got some shocking news. A very close, very dear person in my life–I’ll call him Mr. A–someone who has intelligence & wisdom & integrity that is unsurpassed–was laid off earlier this year. He has tried relentlessly to find another job, & is now even surviving on peanut butter & jelly sandwiches; in fact, now just peanut butter since he ran out of jelly. This is someone who is responsible about time and money, and who is not lazy about sending out resumes. And he will even settle for work that is below his multiple degree level. Still, no nibbles. My heart goes out to Mr. A,  a person deserving of so much. Yet his humility, perseverence and strong faith keeps him going, seeking work until he finds something.

“The New Year, Twenty-Fifteen, will bring a change; it has to.” I didn’t say that; Mr. A did. Right then I told him he inspired me to design a 2015 New Year’s AmperArt afterall, no matter how hard I had to seek & find something relevant & maybe even clever.

The words were right in front of me: seek employment, find a job. Seek & find. Or as the bible says,

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you…”

—Matthew 7:7 (King James Version)

To my dear Mr. A, may you seek & find the position that fulfills not only your financial needs but also your passion for creative problem-solving & rewarding work.

To my family & friends & readers, may you seek & find success & prosperity in 2015. May you seek & find health & happiness. May you seek & find joy & wonder.

For those of you in a position like Mr. A, may you seek & find your dream job early in the coming year.

& to all ampersand fans, I hope you seek & find the perfect ampersand in 2015.


 chaz sez ...

The font for Seek & Find was chosen for its classic proportions & round elements to complement the style of the numerals & ampersand. Obviously, a designer does not choose a typestyle based on its name, but after Seek & Find was finished I realized I coincidentally did seek & find an appropriately-named font for the new year: Futura.

For those of you who can’t find the ampersand in this edition, just seek & find a little further: it’s the “plus” sign inside the zero. (That big round circle is a zero, you know. It’s part of the abstract “2015” that makes this a new year’s piece just for this new year.) The “plus” sign is “shorthand” for the ampersand (which is shorthand for “et” or “and”). You can see how that works here:

ampsnd-to-plus

Seek & find more interesting facts about the ampersand here.


Production notes for #77 Seek & Find:
Original size: 20×30 inches
Program: Illustrator
Font: Futura
Ampersand & numerals: drawn in Illustrator by Chaz DeSimone
Reference:
Phrases: The Phrase Finder—phrases.org.uk

For professional graphic design, please visit Desimone Design.

Desimone Design

#52 Quality & Dependability

Like my Jeep!


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gallery quality print. See printing & framing ideas here.

AmperArt #52, QUALITY & DEPENDABILITY, is from the AmperArt Advertising Slogan series. It’s a term that used to be more prevalent, decades before today’s Cheap & Disposable merchandise. Other words that come to mind are: solid, reliable, unconditionally guaranteed (not just a limited warranty) & service with a smile.


 

listen up!I remember when products were made with quality & they were truly dependable. Not so much anymore (except for Jeeps & iPhones & OXO*). But I am very glad that I have friends who fit the description of QUALITY & DEPENDABILITY. My family & friends are of the highest integrity—honest, genuine, sincere—& they are very dependable—from helping out in a pinch to being on time. Unlike most of today’s products, my friends are not disposable!


*My love affair with OXO

(as in hugs & kisses, although that’s not what the name was intended to imply)

OXO is an outstanding company, truly the definition of QUALITY & DEPENDABILITY. I love the visual & comfortable styling of their products (which is mostly kitchenware), the carefully R&D’d usefulness (unlike some gadgets that are more difficult to use than if the task was rendered manually), & even the name & logo. Okay, very much the name & logo, even though I’m not a fan of red.

Their absolutely no-questions-asked guarNow I even enjoy doing my dishes!antee was put to the test recently when my OXO soap-dispensing dish brush broke (quite surprisingly—although I use it constantly as it even turns washing dishes into a likeable task). In searching for the instructions to get a replacement, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting several pages on the OXO website, as each one introduced me to another amazing facet of their company: the origin of the name; how each product is developed; and the personalities & hobbies of their employees. One of those wonderful employees, a cheerful woman by the name of Brooke, answered my questions about the broken brush & she struck up a conversation as if we were old friends.

“Would you like the same model or the newer model with added features?” (Newer, of course—& I do like the added features, including the fact that it’s completely black, no red, not even the logo.) She asked if I could send a photo of the broken part—but it’s okay if I couldn’t. (I did.) She said they’ll send a replacement out immediately. (They did. Immediately.)

Brooke even subscribed to my personal design project (which you’re reading now), AmperArt.com, which really showed me how kind & considerate the Oxonians are (their term, not mine). Hey! “Kind & Considerate”…that’ll be a new AmperArt creation!

In case you’re wondering…no, this is not a sponsored endorsement. I simply love OXO! (They say it’s pronounced “ox-oh” but I prefer “o-x-o” and when I told Brooke why, she even noted my reason.) Someday I’ll write an amazing testimonial about my ’96 Jeep which just won’t quit, or Apple, which is ahead of any other device by eons.

You will probably enjoy the OXO website (oxo.com), especially the about page for some interesting facts & figures. Further down the page, you’ll experience a refreshingly human experience as you learn about the employees’ favorite hobbies, pets, languages & inventive uses for their products (use the spaghetti strainer as a backscratcher). If you want a personal review of my OXO experience, just email me, or read about my favorite dishwashing tool, even more than the automatic dishwasher, here.


 Please tell other ampersand fans about the
QUALITY
of  each AmperArt design & the
DEPENDABILITY
of one issue per month, guaranteed. 

They can subscribe
HERE 
Thank you.


 

PRODUCTION NOTES:
Original size: 20×30 inches
Program: InDesign
Fonts: Copperplate, Industria, English Script (ampersand)
Inspiration: Maytag washing machines, Craftsman tools, Jeeps—all from the 1950s & 60s

#49 Hammer & Nail

#49 Hammer & Nail
Click image to download full-size print suitable for framing.

Happy Labor Day Weekend.

Hammer & Nail, #49 in the AmperArt series, honors all of us who labor for a living. This edition, Hammer & Nail, pays special tribute to those journeymen who build houses to give us shelter & offices to help us work — like my brother Rob and my friend Mike. Robbie, I love you like a friend and Mike, I love you like a brother.

CLICK HERE to print & frame a gallery-quality print—it’s fabulous & free. Look at these ideas: Framing & Displaying Your AmperArt Print

chazsezLOGO-85x64I hope you enjoy your work as much as I do mine. My toolbag contains several graphics programs, a monitor & scanner, some leftover designers markers from the pre-digital era, an Xacto knife which I still use on occasion & of course my box of 120 Crayola crayons which is always right in front of me. (My favorite Crayola color is blue-green.)

Sometimes I could use a hammer, though, when the computer crashes. On the other hand, it feels good when I nail a logo on the first try.

PRODUCTION NOTES
Original dimensions: 20″ x 30″
Program: Illustrator
Font: Impact (modified)
Ampersand: 8 gauge 16D common
Background: graphicstock.com

Thanks for subscribing to AmperArt. Please invite your ampersand-fan friends & colleagues to subscribe–tell them it’s fabulous & free.

#30 Prepare & Chance

Today is President Lincoln’s birthday, so of course it’s appropriate to release my AmperArt edition #30 featuring our 16th president on February 12. But this piece of art was actually created several months ago as a gift for a very special housewarming for a very special couple. My friends Tina & Doc built their dreamhouse from the ground up.

It’s called the Penny Palace. (We’ll get to that in a minute.)

When I say special friends, how many people would design a pet entrance with its doorbell a foot off the ground? Or create a tiny door on the mezzanine titled “Elves” — & during their housewarming Open House weekend have an actual live elf inside that door? (Tina & Doc are practical, though — the door leads to the attic. Ever hear noises in your attic? Probably elves.) Every aspect of this house is special down to the very last detail. The rooms are themed & a recurring theme is pennies (more on that, like I promised, in a minute). Even the Housewarming Open House was spread over several days, with invitations for certain groups at certain times, each given a tour complete with a map & facts guide (a great souvenir).

I’ve only known Tina & Doc for a few years, but they’re the kind of friends you feel you’ve known all your life. Here’s how it all started (finally, about the pennies):

Tina came to me as a client. She has a website called PennyFinders.com, & asked me to design a Pennyfinding Guide as well as a new logo. (Be sure to visit her site for fun facts, perhaps discover a new hobby?, lots of smiles & joy–such as the symptoms checklist to see if you have Penny Fever.)

Through working with Tina I realized she has a deep commitment to doing things right, never giving up, finding joy in every new challenge, & sharing that joy with everyone — I mean EVERYONE — from clerks to contractors to strangers & of course to friends. In fact, she had me design a special card that she hands out to everyone she meets, giving them hope, joy — & even a penny (there’s one glued to every card).

The back of the card states The PennyFinders Mission:

  • Trust in a Higher Source
  • Be Grateful
  • Encourage Others through Acts of Random Kindness

Designing Tina’s materials was a tremendous amount of fun & joy (as she would want it to be). By the time we were done, she was no longer a client but a true friend, along with her husband Doc.

Then I discovered an amazing feat of hers and Doc’s: The Pennytales Blog

You’ll be amazed, as I was, at  this comprehensive timeline with commentary, photos & video, from groundbreaking to housewarming, including all the trials & tribulations of penny finding, building a house, & life in general. (There are some great tips if you’re thinking of building your own house…or just enjoying life.)

The blog reads like this, which was about the time they decided to really make this house happen:

“If we are to build this ‘ARK’ [Tina’s acronym for Acts of Random Kindness] then God needs to take charge and be the contractor.

“A Penny would validate that we are heading in the right direction. That is when the 100-day series began.  After the first few CONSECUTIVE days of finding coins, this appeared to be a little more than mere coincidence.”

As a  Penny Palace housewarming gift, I conceptualized a special AmperArt piece featuring a copper penny. I was ecstatic to discover, on the latest US penny, a depiction of Abe Lincoln sitting on a log, studying a book, after chopping a huge log of wood — to build a house? How appropriate! Then I found the perfect quote by Abraham Lincoln (complete with ampersand), for it states in a few words how Tina and Doc came about manifesting their Penny Palace:

“I will prepare and some day my chance will come.”

Tina and Doc’s housewarming weekend was full of beauty, happiness & love — not just from the new house, but from all the wonderful friends that came to visit, giving back the joy that this special couple is constantly extending to others. Tina’s blog elaborates on all the ups & downs they went through in its construction, permits & furnishing. It’s an uplifting read when one needs encouragement, with many humorous moments & a strong reminder that Penny Angels are always watching over us. You’ll enjoy reading Tina’s blog.

I have always admired Abraham Lincoln, & now he has some very special company to share his copper coin with.

Happy Birthday, Honest Abe.

May the Penny Angels bless you, Tina & Doc & your beautiful, enchanting Penny Palace.

 

PRODUCTION NOTES:
Program: Photoshop
Fonts: Stempel Garamond, Berkeley (ampersand, modified)
Penny image: U.S. Mint
Photography: rouakcz, graphicleftovers.com
Quote: Abraham Lincoln