John Shea, owner of John and Sons Barber Shop at the Cumberland Farms Plaza in Halifax, can’t believe how the years have gone by as he has been cutting hair for half a century!
Celebrating his milestone as a barber in the same location for nearly all of his career and next door for the 18 years before that, Shea is thrilled to celebrate five decades and has no intention of slowing down.
As he turns his chair, trimming and chatting with clients, he shares memories with his many repeat customers. He hears about work, town life and sports as the scissors snip and trimmers buzz.
In addition to realizing how many trinkets have accumulated inside the shop, Shea has also absorbed the innumerable emotional milestones he sees in his line of work making him love his job and career wholeheartedly.
John has given clients their very first haircuts, cut their hair for their wedding, and in some cases, even trimmed their hair for their funeral. In June, some of his kids who got their first haircuts in John’s chair will come in for a trim before they graduate from high school.
He has given many first haircuts in a 1920s antique child’s chair, a replica of a carousel horse, that sits in the front window.
He found it at an auction in Pittsfield in the 1990s and had to bring it back to his shop where it has been a favorite for many of his youngest customers.
Listening is an important aspect of Shea’s work as he lathers necks and shaves with a straight razor. He shares light banter with his customers and the atmosphere becomes even livelier he says when his son Darren is cutting in the chair next to him.
Shea is also known for decorative haircuts and designs when sports teams win, and kids want the winning logo etched into their hairline, said Shea.
His nephew Corey Socha is also a full time barber at the shop as Shea passes along his decades of experience to help train the next generations.
A buzz cut, fade, or crew cut, Shea has seen countless trends come and go, recalling his early start in the 1960s and 1970s the trend was growing long hair.
It was a tough beginning for his brand-new business when no one needed a haircut! Welcomed were the mullets and shags and Mohawks in the early 1980s when the grooming business boomed.
The décor inside his shop has evolved as rows of collectible Harley Davidson limited edition cans and knick-knacks of all sorts came in with customers. Suddenly the shelves were full of state-of-the-art conversation pieces, he said.
Although he has many clients who have followed him through the years one family came to mind who he has seen grow through four generations, named – would you believe it – the Barber family of Duxbury, he said.
Married to wife Judy for 53 years, he looks forward to spending time with her. He foresees his body will let him know when it is time to hang up his shears.
Shea said having a career as a barber has been rewarding and fulfilling. When asked where he sees himself in the next decade, Shea chuckled.
“I will keep going until I can’t go anymore. I may slow down physically, but I love it,” he said.