- By Patrick Beach American-Statesman Staff
The business card says it all: “Hyde Park Barber Shop — Specializing in Regular Haircuts.”
If you want a haircut or a beard trim from Ben Salazar, Juan Parra or Sebastian “Junior” Zamarripa — and that’ll be $15 and $6, respectively (cash or check only) — you’d better hurry. They’re ending 50 years of working together when their last location — a shop in a strip mall on Airport Boulevard next to a Domino’s near 46th Street — closes for good on Saturday.
And their customers, a few of whom have been with them almost as long as they’ve been together, will have to find a new, less familiar place.
There’s great consensus that after a century or more of struggle, equality for the sexes is a good thing. But there are places where the sexes cheerfully self-segregate to be among their chromosomal kin. One of the few remaining such places for guys is the old-school barber shop.
At Hyde Park, you get a regular-guy haircut — and almost certainly an eyebrow trim, necessary come a certain age — from regular guys who wield scissors and trimmers with the workaday confidence of men who’ve had decades of experience.
Combs bathe in clear bottles of green Marvy germicidal disinfectant. One flat-screen TV faces the waiting area, another faces the three chairs where the men everybody calls Ben, Juan and Junior work five days a week, listening to guys grouse about their wives, brag on their kids or moan about the latest Longhorn football heartbreak. One point! How?
Sports memorabilia — a signed Troy Aikman jersey, a football signed by Mack Brown, baseballs from Nolan Ryan and former UT coach Cliff Gustafson — decorate a man’s space.
There’s a rack by the candy machines near the front door with hunting and fishing magazines, and one tellingly titled “Where To Retire.”
It’s not a matter of where for Salazar — who lives in Round Rock and won’t miss the drive — but when.
“In order to do this, you have to love your job, be ready to come to work every day,” said Salazar, who’s married to Zamarripa’s sister and doesn’t want to talk about how old he is. “You have to learn how to listen. Listening to your customers is important, too. I am going to miss the friendship and my customers. The hardest part is telling them I’m not going to be here for them.”
“I hate it,” said Al McKinney, a customer since 1975. “I’ve known them for so long. They still use a razor on your face, and it’s a good price. I guess I’ll have to find a new place. You feel very comfortable with them. But I know it’s time.”
Parra and Salazar might be packing up their tools and supplies, but Zamarripa isn’t ready to quit. Come October, he’ll be down the road at Hancock Barber Shop, and he expects to see familiar faces.
“I had a customer call me and say, ‘When are you coming over? They’re looking for you over here already,’” he said.