Classic Cuts: Exploring Traditional Barber Shops on Delmarva - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Classic Cuts: Exploring Traditional Barber Shops on Delmarva

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David Boog at work in the Hebron Barber Shop. (Photo: WBOC) David Boog at work in the Hebron Barber Shop. (Photo: WBOC)

DELMARVA - While time travel is not possible, it is possible to feel like you're taking a step back into yester-year.  A traditional, "old-school" barber shop is a place that over the past few decades, has become harder to come by.  However, they're certainly not extinct.  Delmarva is still home to some of these barber shops and to the people who have occupied them. Some for decades; others merely a few weeks.

Our story begins in Wicomico County, at the Hebron Barber Shop, a place that David Boog has been cutting hair and getting to know the locals for more than five decades now.  Many of his customers can walk in, sit-down, and not say a word.  Boog knows what they're looking for and gets right to work. Sometimes, Boog and his customers will talk about just about anything, from fishing to what's for dinner.  Other times, a customer will sit down and the only sounds in the room will be Boog and his tools conducting their business.  

It's these brief encounters, normally with the same people every few weeks, that Boog has called his life for more than 50 years now.

"My dad had a barber supply business in Baltimore years and years ago, so that may have something to do with it.  I was kind of oriented to it and my grandfather is also a barber," Boog said.

Boog currently shares the barber shop with his son, who is actively working on getting his barber's license as well.  It's a profession that's going to stay in the family. However, it is a profession that Boog said has caused some tough times in the past 50 years.

"Actually most of the barber shops went out of business there when the Beatles came over and hardly anybody got a haircut for years and years and most of the barber shops went out of business at that time," Boog said. 

But he persisted and remains open, and continues to have those brief encounters with the people who have kept him going for all these years.

"Well, I guess most of my customers just kept coming," he said. 

Having a barber shop for 50 years is quite an accomplishment but has certainly come with its challenges. Owning a barber shop for just a few months in an age when barber shops are not nearly as prevalent, is a challenge in and of itself.  That challenge is something Norman Smith is taking by the horns as he just started "Norman's Deluxe Barber Shop and Shave Parlor" in Milford, Del., full-time at the beginning of April.

"For the last 20 plus years, I've worked in a factory. It was kind of always in the back of my mind.  I always enjoyed going to the barber shop and could often sit in the barber shop and say I could see myself in that role," Smith said.

In Smith's shop is a single barber's chair that is from the 1920's and was made in Chicago.

"It came from an old barber shop in Lincoln, Del., that's not there anymore.  It's been around.  There's been a lot of people in this chair."

At Smith's shop, he is all about providing an experience that these days is hard to come by.  From sitting in the chair, to the services he provides, like the hot towel shave.  And for Smith, even in his shop's infancy, he says the customers have come.

"Guys in their early 20s to early 30s, they're looking for an experience and I think that they want that," Smith said.

Smith believes the traditional, "old-school" barber shop and the experience one can provide could be making a revival.

"I think craftsmanship in general is making a resurgence and absolutely, I want that to come back," Smith said. 

As long as barbers like Boog and Smith continue to work on their craft, the barber shop will live on here on Delmarva and open the door for a new generation of barbers.

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