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Thread: Memories from Aruba's barber shops

  1. #1
    Senior Member charles's Avatar
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    Memories from Aruba's barber shops

    Things bring memories and most often, those memories are colored by where you were at a specific time. When my son rode his bike without the trainer wheels and I had to powder his kneecaps to “make-it-all-better”. Our home has a small step at the front door where the breeze blows across. The two of us sat there and I started to powder. The wind carried baby powder into the air and as I tended my son, my memories went to a small Cunucu House that is still located practically dead in the center of Oranjestad. It is in excellent condition and still full of wonder and merriment.

    =================+++++++===============

    As kids, we had to visit the barber once every two weeks. PERIOD! This was one of those things, that I feel sure, was inspired by the lack of anything else to do. In our case, we were just pointed in the direction of the barber, given a handkerchief (with a lump of coins in it) that had been tied into a series of knots and given instructions (over and over again) to give it to ‘Osbaldo’. He, of course was the barber for our family since his shop was only about 100 yards from our home. In some cases we were told to take something to his wife. This was usually a textile of sorts and while I have nothing to substantiate it, I feel she did "sewing" for the families during the day.

    The barbershops’ solid wooden plank windows and doors were always opened and the smell of powder floated in it. Clouds of powder were always adrift in the air and would intensify when someone had finished with their haircut. I recall that in the areas close to the windows the air was much more active and this is something that can only be seen when you powder the air and … Osbaldo did just that – he powdered the air. Plumes of powdered air would go out of the window.

    We sat there, each of us, awaiting our turns while looking at flicking scissors and long thin combs. Each of us (the kids that is) dreading the aprons with the accompanying strangle knot to keep it on our necks. More dreadful yet was the potential of becoming the next Vincent Van Gogh. The ritual was simple:
    We would be called by name and would give him the knotted handkerchief with the coins
    Osbaldo untied the handkerchief and took the coins , then returned the hanky to us
    He would toss a wooden plank across the armrests. This was for us to sit on.
    He would fuss with our hair–studying the results of his work a few weeks ago then would pull out the comb and long thin scissor and start flicking
    Out came the razor (a horror time for me)
    Osbaldo would go to a small drawer and bring out a long thin ivory colored white handle and then grab a hooked piece on the end and flick it open. I never ceased to cringe when I saw that.
    His left hand would go to the long leather band that hung at the side of the chair. Pure horror!
    He would flip that razor furiously on it as the next victim sat and wonder about 'his' ears.
    Osbaldo should have been a surgeon. That man never spilled a drop of my blood.
    On went the burning alcohol menthol stuff
    The hairline and back of the neck stung only to be soothed by the long soft-bristled powder brush came out. Time to shut your eyes

    We each left happy – not for the haircut but that you were still with 2 ears.
    Vincent with his Starry Nights we weren’t – at least for the next 14 days
    Anyway, a quick look backwards as we walked home would show the floating powder.
    When arriving home we turned in the unknotted handkerchief
    That was the drill.


    A few nights ago, I went into that barber shop. The name OSBALDO no longer hangs outside the front door – it has been replaced with CUBAS COOKIN. Where Osbalso had his barber chairs - now there is a bar with stools and not chairs. It has gone from BARber to BAR – and both have stools - interesting thought. The opening to the main dining area is where the door was that went to the inside of the home of Osbaldo. His wife was always back there doing something with plenty of cloth. The area in Cubas Cookin known as the “Back Room, used to be his small little side yard.

    Mr. And Mrs. Osbaldo (I don’t know his last name) were from Santo Domingo and were an integral part of our community. That small and humble little house/barbershop, hosted all levels within the social strata. We as kids all sat there with nothing but the future ahead of us. Future bankers, carpenters, doctors, garbage-men, lawyers and politicians. We all sat there with legs hanging from the long chair waiting for our hair to be cut. You have to remember that most of the execs lived in town and all the men got their hair cut and did so often.

    In the present day, Mr. Doug Markus who is a friend of mine from Canada, who once lived in India and is now happily transplanted to our Caribbean (Dutch) island, sits in the same areas where Osbaldo and his Dominican wife once did. Instead of Dominican food and fine poowder covered haircuts, he, as proprietor, makes sure that the food, drink and music are pleasantly Cuban.

    Everywhere you look – you find it. The mixture and the melting pot in the Caribbean called Aruba. So little yet so diverse. So very mixed and therefore so much more open to new concepts and thoughts. Aruba is a small place with so many great stories and experiences to live and to tell. I fear not being able to let you know how much I love this little Island.

    When you arrive on Aruba, walk around. Look at her nuances. Smell her mixes of foods as they float from windows and linger in the streets. Stop once in a while and talk to the locals. We are evolving and therefore are not what we were and will not be what we are today. Take a piece of us with you in a memory.

    Find a nuance to remember - a drift of powder that has turned to the delicious smell of Cuban food. Let your senses take the picture and store it eternally.


    be well
    charles
    THERE ARE PLACES TO SEE - STORIES TO TELL
    IMAGES TO HARNESS - AND MORE STORIES ON caribbean.tv
    be well
    charles

  2. #2
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    Charles
    Very cool story thanks, I was telling my wife one of my most memerible experiences from my current trip was getting a hair cut downtown. It was a unigue experience as the stylist spoke no english, and my combination of speaking a little spanish,and dutch is barely passable it was quite a unigue and pleasurable time. and I got a great haircut

  3. #3
    Senior Member charles's Avatar
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    Glad you enjoyed it.

    be well
    charles


    Quote Originally Posted by Cosmo View Post
    Charles
    Very cool story thanks, I was telling my wife one of my most memerible experiences from my current trip was getting a hair cut downtown. It was a unigue experience as the stylist spoke no english, and my combination of speaking a little spanish,and dutch is barely passable it was quite a unigue and pleasurable time. and I got a great haircut
    THERE ARE PLACES TO SEE - STORIES TO TELL
    IMAGES TO HARNESS - AND MORE STORIES ON caribbean.tv
    be well
    charles

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