Hair’s To You: 50 Years of Haircuts

Recognizing the quality of life that the town of Orange had to offer along with the potential of opening a new business, my dad moved our family from New Haven to Orange.{{more}} George’s Barbershop opened in 1952 on the Boston Post Rd. The small shop was located next to the only liquor store in the town called Arts Package Store with the Army Surplus Trading Post on the other side. Route One as it was called was mainly used as a truck route from Boston to New York City.

Local businesses were few. The population of Orange at that time was about 1,200 people and growing. It was quickly established that the town of Orange was a great place to raise a family and the population began to build.

In the past barber shops were associated with betting parlors and places of cheap gossip. My father worked hard to eliminate that image by establishing a family environment where men, women and their children would feel welcomed. Haircuts and shaves were the norm. Local farmers would barter their vegetables for haircuts. Moms would drop off their kids for a cut while they did their errands. Many times my dad would come home late because he was waiting for someone to pick up their kids. There were no cell phones, so if someone was detained you just made the best of it. There were always plenty of comic books around and lollipops to keep the kids entertained. No computers or video games back then.

I remember being at the shop one day when a man with four boys came in. My father asked him how he would he like the boys’ haircuts, he replied “everything off but the skin.”

Haircuts were a big bite out of the budget at $1.15. When my father raised his prices to $1.25 people complained so much he thought he would have to run for the hills. But as always, patrons are willing to pay for good service and things quickly settled down.

In 1965 I joined my father in the business, and by this time he had moved to a larger location at 226 Boston Post Rd. Michael was added to the logo and George Michaels Hair Studio came to be.

I had been trained as a hairstylist and had competed in styling competitions in New York City. We remodeled the salon setting up private booths for the clients. I introduced women’s services into our salon. By embracing the long hair trend, we grew our business while others were closing up. The 1960’s was a big turning point in the hair industry. Customers wanted precision haircuts , hair styles and razor cuts. Styling products became popular along with blow drying and hair straightening. In the early 70’s everybody wanted curly hair, permanent waves for men took over. Products became better, customers were taking better care of their hair. In the 80’s women wanted big hair while the 90’s saw individuals wearing hair styles that were easy to maintain.

There will always be new hair trends but a good basic haircut is still the basis for good looking hair style. The new millennium will continue to introduce great advancements in hair care, hair health products that are safer and even products that will prevent premature hair loss. There you have it … 50 years of haircutting I hope you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane as much as I have enjoyed working in the industry.

Michael Raccio is a licensed Master Barber, Hairdresser and Cosmetologist, and Hair Replacement Specialist. Email him with your questions a