Barbershop wisdom

Most worthwhile wisdom I have acquired was outside of any classroom or textbook. I also know, for a fact, I never learned anything while talking.
One of the best places I’ve received valuable information is while sitting in a barber’s chair.
Barbershops, I have learned, are a great source for good and bad information — not only from the barber but customers as well. So, I shut up and listen.
Growing up in Arizona, my best friend’s dad owned the neighborhood barbershop.
Moreno Del Costello was all of 5-feet tall, joined the Navy and left his home in New Hampshire to fight in World War II halfway around the world in the Pacific. He was a true member of what Tom Brokaw described as “The Greatest Generation.”
Mr. Del Costello came home from the war to his native New England, married and moved to Tucson, Ariz., because doctors said the climate would be better for his new wife’s asthma.
Mr. Del Costello loved to hunt and fish with his two sons and generally enjoyed being outside in Arizona, and he never seemed to sit still for a moment.
He seemed to love his job and treated his customers like they were friends. He was an active member of his church and the Knights of Columbus, and was nice to me except when I accidently dribbled the basketball into his garden. I was taught to respect my elders and respecting Mr. Moreno was easy.
The only time we really ever talked was when I was in his barber chair.
I enjoyed listening to his views on sports, or the hunts that produced his many taxidermy mounts proudly hung on the barbershop wall, and only once do I remember him discussing politics.
Well, I guess it wasn’t much of a discussion.
I asked him who he was going to vote for president. He told me his policy was to vote for whoever would keep one party or the other from having a majority.
He told me that he was fearful if either party held the presidency or governorship at the same time, they controlled both House of Representatives and the Senate.
He told me citizens were far better off when one side could keep the other in check. He thought moderation and compromise were necessary before any worthwhile laws were made even — if that meant less would get done in Washington or Phoenix.
Being a very wise 17-year-old at the time, I questioned his wisdom but out of respect I kept those thoughts to myself.
I thought then that those charged with governing were the best and brightest of our state and country. Surely they would always put the overall good of the people they represent before pettiness and their own interests.
I seldom get a haircut without thinking of Mr. Del Costello, and four decades later and after watching the 2013 North Dakota legislative session unfold, I’m more inclined to appreciate his wisdom now than ever.

One thought on “Barbershop wisdom

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