Mary hinted that I needed a haircut, so a stop at Evers' Barbershop was obviously on my schedule. The drive back to the 23rd took me right past that slowly turning red, white, and blue barber pole that had marked that two chair shop since 1923. Evers' was my kind of barbershop, a man's den of black and white tile, of mirror and chrome, of out-of-date Argosy magazines and high school football schedules, of Witch Hazel and talcum powder, of razors and clippers and bawdy jokes.
Ernie had worked for legendary Bill Evers for a good number of years as the second chair barber. Then when Bill went down with a massive stroke at a Bruins-Rangers hockey game one December night, Ernie took over the shop, paying it off so much a month to the widow Evers.
Ernie was a growl of a man, in every way. His face was grizzly; his voice was gravelly; his whole person had the feel of grit and grime. "Officer MacKenzie, have a sit. I'll be through with Mr. Brudevold in a couple of minutes."
Ernie was giving the final touches to the old gent, trimming his ears and his eyebrows. Funny thing of men getting old, they start growing hair in all the wrong places and start losing it in all the right places. My eye caught sight of a remarkably recent copy of Time - on the cover, Bishop Fulton Sheen, the rather flashy television priest that all the Catholic ladies loved. Early on the article, the recently deceased Archbishop Collins was mentioned, a seminary roommate and a lifelong friend. I began to wonder if Bishop Sheen might not come and celebrate the Mass for his old friend.
"MacKenzie, you're up. thank you, Mr. Brudevold. Say hi to the Mrs." With that, the old man set the flip bell on the door to ringing and I took my seat of the number one chair, the one by the window. "The usual?"
"I suppose. But watch the ears, Ernie. You nipped one last time."
We chatter back and forth for a few moments. We talked of the Red Sox this season without Ted Williams; we talked of Korea and if MacArthur could turn it around; we talked of Truman and Dewey, Ike and Stevenson. After we had talked our way through all that and were getting to the dusting off part of the haircut, then Ernie brought up the news. "I hear the Archbishop met his maker this morning. I bet ya the Mahoneys are holding their own wake for old geezer."
"Ernie, do you cut the Mahoney kid's hair?"
"Sure, the old man used to bring the three brothers in here as kids, all at the same time, Byran, Kevin, and Michael. Bryan and Michael, they bring their boys in nowadays. Of course, with Kevin being killed over in Normandy, well. You know the old man lost heart when Kevin died. That's when Bryan took over. And boy was the young Mahoney ever p*ssed when the Archbishop shut out his old man from the cathedral cemetery."
"He used to talk about that."
"Used to? Lord, every other time he's in here he starts cussing about it and heaven help a priest if he ever walks in."
"Bay Rum, Mac?"
"Sure gives me the works."
Then with a pop and shake of the blue and white barber cloth and a final whisk of his brush, I was off, shaved and civilized.
"See you next month, MacKenzie."
Old man Brudevold gets a say hi to the Mrs. and I get see you next month. That ought to tell you something about the state of my life.