Grooming is a word used for dogs and horses, monkeys and men. The groom is the guy walking the bride up the aisle, resplendent in a black tuxedo with polished shoes and slicked hair--and that's about the only time some guys are groomed. Post-war grooming was almost the opposite of what it is now. Guys greased their hair on a daily basis and got it washed at the barber's once a week. Modern men scrub their grapes daily in the shower, and if the mop gets any grease, it's in the barber chair.

       Guys today might hit the barber chair to tune up their do's, but guys in the 'fifties also got an oil change. A week of slicking up made a good scrub mandatory. Shampoo came in long-necked bottles, like hair tonic, with the soap already mixed with water. It was applied directly to dry hair, with water worked in, little by little, to lather it up. The head was scrubbed with a brush, then rinsed forward in a standard sink. That's all it took to wash short hair. You didn't need to have a special shampoo basin or lay a guy back in the chair. That was for longer hair, and only came about for males when beauty salons dropped their first name and began taking in men.

       Barber shops usually had a chart on the wall showing the cost of services. The order generally went like this, with "Haircut" at the top, followed by "Shave," "Shampoo," "Massage" and "Tonic." However, in the early 'sixties, Sandahl's offered a free chart to barbers showing ten popular hair cuts. Across the top it read, "A Hair Style and a Hair Product for Every Need," and along the bottom, "We cut your hair one way...the best way!" The middle of the poster read, "Sandahl's Shampoos -- Tonics," and depicted four Sandahl's Hair Care brand products: "Perfect" Tonic, Shampoo, and a jar and tube of butch wax. The poster listed six shop services, with space to write in more, but the order was reversed, with "Sandahl's Dandruff Shampoo" at the top, followed by "Massage," "Plain Shampoo," Haircut," "Shave," and Sandahl's Dandruff Tonic" (see below).

Vaseline Hair
Tonic Display

Barber Shop
Lather Machine

        In an episode of "Leave it to Beaver," Ward caught Wally using his razor, and chewed him out in front of the guys. All through the episode he ponders how to restore his son's wounded pride. Finally, he stops in at the barber shop where Wally's getting a haircut, and tells the barber his son needs a shave. The other guys' eyes get wide as they watch Wally being lathered up, feeling their own chins for any sign of bristle, and once more, Wally is the man.
       Not every man shaves every day; not every man needs to. But for those who do, the first razor marks a rite of passage and a coming of age to the man's daily ritual: the shave.

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Steves Barbers Lake Stevens WA