• The Jewel on the Hill: Barbershop serves in many ways

    By Cameron Douglas

    There is a rare red-white-and-blue gem in the Forest Hill Plaza shopping center, standing as tall and proud as the tradition it represents. A striped pole to the left of the entrance proclaims, “LOOK BETTER – FEEL BETTER.” Go through the door and find yourself transported to another place and time in a true sanctuary for men – although women come here too.

    The Forest Hill Barber Shoppe has operated for many years, and as time goes on it becomes more and more essential. For in this age of Blackberries and  Facebook, iPods and Powerpoint, texting and Twitter, the need for something functional and simple increases. Within these wood-paneled walls exists the time-honored tradition of relaxation and good grooming. Keepsakes and artwork adorn the counters and walls, from a brass model ship to classic car posters to a colorful “Cookie Cop” that delights visiting children.

    “We’ve tried to give this place the look and feel of a 1960’s garage…the kind of place someone’s grandpa might have had,” states Captain Cutter Fred Reynolds. “It’s a spiritual retreat for men.”

    The shop’s service to the community doesn’t end with great haircuts. The Forest Hill Barber Shoppe is licensed with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) for disaster response. They also work with the Santa Cruz County Food Bank, helping more than 30 disadvantaged families every week.

    Women come in for a variety of reasons. Some seek Fred’s cosmetology skills – he did that work for many years. Others accompanying their husbands or boyfriends get comfortable in one of the four electric massage chairs and catch a catnap. It’s all good.

    “We give a good haircut that suits the customer, plus all the old-fashioned touches,” Fred explains. “We have a big, soft paintbrush and vacuum to remove loose hair, just like the old-time barbers used to have. We also offer talcum powder and a nice little massage right here in the barber chair, all included.” Members of the military get a more personalized style than they can on base. Haircuts range from $20-30.

    It also affords a chance for introspection, to sit and take stock of oneself in that big mirror: a chance to slow down and reflect on life. Fred keeps a supply of goodies on hand to keep hunger and thirst at bay. You can choose from a variety of iced teas, water, muffins, bananas, M&M’s – even prunes! There’s also a genuine military MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) – one of Fred’s favorite conversation pieces.

    Forest Hill Barber Shoppe is a “guy place” where everyone is welcome and made to feel comfortable. Stop in sometime!

    posted to Cedar Street Times on April 16, 2009

    Topics: Current Edition, Features, Cameron Douglas


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