6.09.2005

Old School: Citizen soldier

I get my hair cut at Trundle's Hair Trends, in the River Street plaza in Waltham where Shaws and AJ Wrights is located. Strip mall barbers are usually of the Supercuts variety, but Trundle's is an old-school place for men. Piles of hair on the scuffed linoleum floor, personal shaving jars in racks by the mirrors, old model airplanes hanging from the ceiling, AM sports radio playing in the background, and Maxim and Sports Illustrated and the Herald in the racks in the waiting area. The talk is about sports, local government, and kids. I've been coming there for about four or five years.

Bob's from Newton, but has been operating the Waltham shop for years, with his son sometimes pitching in on the weekend. And one day a week an older guy helps out. Today I got my hair cut there in the morning, and the old-timer waved me to the seat. He asked me how I wanted it done, and after he started cutting I asked how often he worked. He told me one day; the rest of the time he golfed.

"That's pretty good, if you can spend six days a week doing that. Where do you play?"

"Wayland Country Club. Sometimes with my sons and grandson."

"How long you been golfing there?"

"Since the 1940s."

"Wow! That must make you one of their most distinguished members."

"Yep. They have me in the founder's club (or something like that) which gets me into tourneys every week and some weekends. I was golfing there when it was just 9 links, and the playing fees was just a dollar. That was before the Quirk brothers bought it."

"You mean, the car dealers?"

"Yep. They expanded to 18 and raised the price, naturally."

We talked some more, and it turned out he had been in the army in WWII. he was a Sherman tank driver ("They had me be in armor, even though I had been a barber for eight years!").

He was drafted in '43, after his three older brothers were drafted, they sent him to Fort Polk (?) in Louisiana to train on the Sherman and its 75 mm gun -- later changed to 90mm, to handle the better equipped German tanks. His unit -- the third armored division -- came on at Normandy, fought in the battle of the Bulge, and then into Germany. 18 or 19 months, he said, and there were some terrible times, like when their commander General Rose had been captured by the Germans, and executed because he was Jewish. ("We really gave them hell the next day.") He still remembered Germany fondly despite the war, but hasn't been back for 60 years; he says his wife doesn't want to go and he doesn't like to fly.

But it was a pleasure talking with someone like him, and a little lesson in history. This was a man who started cutting hair 70 years before in the Great Depression, put down his shears to serve his country, and came back to his old life, plus regular golf games out in Wayland.

I never got his name, but say hi and thanks if you see him at Trundles.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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9:51 AM  

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