A clipping community

Tyrel Linkhorn

Sports memorabilia, conversation define Jasons’ Barbershop

Jason Fabick, owner of Jasons’ Barbershop in downtown Kent, Ohio, cuts Kent resident Matt Metcalf’s hair Tuesday afternoon. Metcalf said he has been coming to Jasons’ for haircuts for 15 years. April 17, 2007.

Leslie Cusano | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

There’s a plaque by the door with the number 272 on it. That’s how many buzz cuts the guys from Jasons’ Barbershop gave in an hour last year on Risman Plaza. The plaque also says Guinness, as in Guinness World Records. That’s their world record.

There’s a shadow box with some old straight-blade razors in it just down the wall. One is marked Solingen, Germany. Another is from England.

A frame in another part of the building showcases a photo of United States Marines in a desert. Also in that frame is a piece of Iraqi paper money. One Marine sent it back to the shop.

There are four barber chairs, each covered with slick black upholstery, each trimmed in chrome. Usually, one of the four barbers who work there is standing behind one of the chairs, clipping the hair of a patron.

And then there’s the sports memorabilia hanging on the walls. It’s everywhere. It’s Kent State. It’s Browns and Indians. It’s Ohio State. It’s Penn State. It’s a Joe Paterno autographed football sitting next to a Jim Tressel autographed football. Both are signed to Jasons’.

The TV in the corner of the room is on, tuned to CNN Headline News this Saturday morning. The two guys sitting in the waiting chairs split their attention between the TV and the conversations with the other patrons. Co-owners Jason Fabick and Jason “Pappy” Manion clip away in the front section. Johnny Moore works in the third chair, in the back section.

The fourth chair is empty. Dan Vitale, the man usually behind the chair, is recovering from bypass surgery. The regulars are thinking of him. There’s a get-well card and a pen sitting near the door for them to sign.

“Always something happening”

Jack Howe is a regular.

“Man, I’ve been coming here since ’88,” he says. “It’s the people. There’s always something happening here.”

So does he come here for the haircuts or the community?

“You can see the haircuts they’re giving,” he jokes.

It draws a response from across the room.

“Remember, you haven’t got your hair cut yet. You better say good things,” Johnny says.

This draws a laugh from Jack; he doesn’t seem too concerned.

“Watch this — oh my God!” exclaims a guy wearing a black flannel shirt and jeans sitting in Pappy’s chair.

Eyes turn to the basketball replay from last night, and the conversation shifts.

“Cavs win last night?” the same guy asks.

Jason’s customer answers him. “Yeah, big.”

Johnny is talking high school wrestling with a couple of his customers, just far enough from Jason and Pappy so they can be in their own conversation, just close enough to hear bits and pieces of what they’re talking about.

The guy who had answered about the Cavaliers earlier walks over to Johnny.

“Everything going OK with that baby?” he asks.

“Yeah, great,” Johnny says

As the customer walks out Johnny pauses and glances at the two photos of his new baby boy taped to his mirror. He goes back to the job at hand and resumes the wrestling conversation.

Sports talk

A bit later, a dad and his two young sons come in. One son sits in Jason’s chair; one, named Mike, walks around.

Mike makes his way to the saltwater fish tank — it’s largely there for the kids, Jason says — and watches the colorful fish dart around the tank. Mike drops himself into Dan’s empty chair and strikes up a conversation with Johnny.

Johnny is the resident Pittsburgh Steelers fan. His area in the back of the shop tells the tale well. A Ben Roethlisberger signed football sits above his mirror, sharing the ledge with Steelers Super Bowl champion mugs. Yes, he has all five, he’ll tell you, emphasizing the word five.

He takes some friendly heat about it from Pappy and Jason, both Cleveland Browns fans.

Earlier, talking about the shop, Jason mentions how sports is the topic of choice. He illustrated this by pointing out Johnny and his customer.

“See, they’re talking sports right now,” Jason says, glancing across the room. “Course, Johnny is a Steelers’ fan, so he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” He looks at Johnny, waiting on a response.

“Hey!” Johnny yells.

Jason laughs. “I’m just kidding. I said it because I knew you were listening.”

But the shop doesn’t center just around football. There are hockey jerseys and commemorative pucks hanging up. Photos of Jacobs Field and old Municipal Stadium. And the Tour de France. It’s a big deal to the guys at the shop, who have their own competition with it every July. They each pick a rider and post all the times on a big board. If their rider has one of the jerseys, they put up a miniature representative jersey on their mirror.

“Life of a barber, you get suckered into all sports,” Johnny says.

Straight-blade razors

Mike and his dad and brother have left, and Jason has another guy getting ready to sit in his chair.

“Same as always?” Jason asks.

“Yeah,” the guy answers, pulling up his sleeve to glance at his watch. The clock on the wall reads 10:45.

“Time constraints?”

“No, I’m fine till about noon.”

“Oh, well,” Jason says smiling, “we’ll take about an hour and 15 minutes.”

Pappy’s almost done with the haircut he’s giving. He walks to the shaving creme dispenser on his counter. He presses a button and the dispenser whirs for a few seconds, filling his hand with the warm white foam. Then he picks up a straight-blade razor, walks back to his chair, and starts shaving the back of the man’s neck, wiping the creme on his arm as it gathers on the blade.

The guys think they are the only ones in Kent using straight-blade razors. They’re trained to use them in barber school, but whether to use them comes down to personal preference, and all the guys at Jasons’ like them. The razors add to the old-time atmosphere the 104-year-old building houses.

While Pappy sweeps the floor, gathering all the brown, gray, black and blond clippings into one pile, a man and his son walk in, trailed by the boy’s mother. Jason offers the greeting.

“Hey, Mike.”

“Hello,” Mike says.

Mike’s son starts to climb into Pappy’s chair, but Pappy stops him and gets a booster chair for him. The son again, with a little help, gets into Pappy’s chair.

“You ready, Freddie?” Pappy asks him.

Pappy begins cutting the boy’s fine, blond hair.

Mike, Jason and Pappy discuss the movie Jarhead while Pappy works on the son’s haircut.

Interspersed with the Jarhead discussion, Pappy and the young boy talk about his cousin, who recently started driving.

“All right, bangs and we’re done,” Pappy says after a while.

The boy squints, wrinkling up his nose. His mother comes up and stoops, to get a good, straight-on look at him.

“We OK?” Pappy asks her.

She gives her approval. “Long enough for him, short enough for me.”

No doubt, Jasons’ is a man’s shop.

“A man’s man’s shop,” as Jason says.

Even so, sometimes, mom’s approval is still needed.

Contact copy desk chief Tyrel Linkhorn at [email protected].