Monday, December 14, 2015
Uncle Marvin in the Deseret News
Ammon, Idaho (AP)--It's been a long time since Ammon was a country town with a population of about 400, but from the chair in Marv's Barber Shop it is possible to feel like time stood still.
For more than 50 years, Marv Anderson has been cutting hair in his shop at 2955 Central Ave. Outside, a red, white and blue pole spins to let people know there's a real barber in business.
"A hairstylist cannot use a red, white and blue barber's pole," said Anderson, 78. "A hairstylist can't use a straight razor either."
The horsehide strap for his razor is 50 years old. The certificate on the wall from the state of Idaho is dated Aug. 16, 1957. The framed dollar bill, from his first customer, is a silver certificate, a type of currency the U.S. Treasury stopped printing in 1964.
Anderson the is grandson of Joseph Anderson, who came to the area in the 1890s to farm.
His shop is across the street from Ammon Elementary School, which used to be the Ammon School, which he attended from kindergarten through the 12th grade.
"I prefer it here off the main drag." he said.
For Anderson and his wife, Marie, the location has always been advantageous. In the early 1950s, they ran a confectionery, selling hot dogs, hamburgers and pop for a nickel. The hot lunch program in the mid-'50s knocked the pins form under that business, at which point the couple decided it would be a good move for both of them to attend the Idaho Barber and Beauty School in Boise. Marie got her license as a cosmetologist, while Marv trained as a barber.
Part of that training involved learning to use a straight razor, something he only uses for shaving the backs of necks now. But 50 years ago, it was common for a barbershop to shave three or four faces a day.
There's an art to shaving someone's face with a straight razor, and it takes some practice.
At barber's college, neophytes would practice on pop bottles, then on balloons.
"When we could do about three balloons without popping them, then they'd let us shave each other," Anderson said.
When he came back to easter Idaho, Anderson apprenticed with two barbers, Mr. Summers and Mr. Shurtliff, before opening Marv and Marie's Kut & Kurl Shop. The cultural upheavals of the '60s and '70s didn't have much effect in Ammon.
"A few of the junior high kids wanted to look ugly and look like the Beatles," he said. But the regular customers could be depended on.
"They say his stories grow every time he tells them," said Paul Curtis, 89, one of Anderson's earliest customers. It's Curtis' dollar bill that is framed on the wall, Anderson said, although the signature is faded to the point where that can't be verified.
Anderson still depends on what he calls the "old reliables," although there is a waning number of them. In fact, he keeps a stack of funeral programs on the window still by the door.
"A lot of the old reliables go south during the winter. When they come back, they look through the pile to see who's gone," he said.
For his part, Anderson said he plans to stay in business until he's 93. The pace suits him: Some days the shop will 12 customers, others days it might have two.
If things are slow, there's plenty to read, including magazines and comic books from the '50s and '60s.
"A lot of my customers bring their old magazines, and I welcome it," Anderson said.