10-09-2012, 09:09 AM
#1
User Info
When I was but a wee lad, my father would take me to the barber shop every few weeks to get my hair cut. The barber was a vet named Art who learned how to cut hair in the Navy during the Korean War. Everyone called him "Art the Barber", but my brother and I affectionately referred to him as "Art the Butcher", because he mainly gave one type of haircut- the buzz-cut. To call him "old school" would be an understatement.

All the men in my family went to Art the Barber- my dad, my grandfather, my uncles, my brother and my male cousins. There would always be at least 2 or 3 older gentlemen in the shop, hanging out, reading the newspaper and bull-shitting. I learned how to properly swear thanks to the men hanging out in Art's barber shop. I also learned countless ethnic slurs. Don't worry, no need to be offended- every ethnicity was slurred. It didn't matter if you were black, white, Asian, Middle Eastern, Irish, Italian, Polish, Mexican, Russian, Swiss... the old curmudgeons hanging out at Art's were equal opportunity bigots.

Art himself was a character. His purple heart and other military medals hung on the wall. He gave straight razor shaves with hot shaving cream. He would sharpen the razor on an old leather strop that hung from his chair. Whenever us young boys were around, he would try to convince us that the shaving cream was actually whipped cream, and he would “eat” it. I'm still, to this day, not sure if he actually ate the shaving cream or he was a master at sleight of hand. Even before we were old enough to have to shave, Art would go through the motions and give us a fake shave (which made us all feel "manly"). After each haircut and shave, he would ask very loudly if we wanted "French Wee Wee Water" (he was referring to Pinaud Clubman original aftershave) just to knock us down a few pegs, again.

There were a few other Barber Shops in my hometown. There was Dick Shay’s, where the men talked exclusively about fly fishing. There was retired Big Band trumpeter Joe Sperenza’s shop, where Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin could always be heard in the background (side story- on my brother’s wedding day we went to Joe’s just to get a trim. My brother was sporting a beard at the time. Dick shaved the beard off and left just a pencil thin mustache ala Errol Flynn. When my brother’s wife walked down the aisle, she did a double take upon seeing his freshly-shorn face, and actually whispered to him, on the alter, “what the hell happened?!”) But those other shops couldn’t hold a candle to Art’s Barber Shop. To this day when I smell Pinaud- Clubman, I am transported back in time. After Art retired, it took me years to find a replacement. During High School and College, I just let me hair grow (something Art would curse me out for whenever we occasionally bumped into each other on the street). After college, my girlfriends and then eventually my wife cut my hair. It was cheap and convenient, but it was an experience that always felt lacking. I would occasionally try a place like Fantastic Sam’s and I would always leave hugely disappointed.

Thankfully, about six months ago I found a new Barber Shop. It’s in downtown Albany, NY and it’s called Patsy’s. The owner – Tragedy – is a former-bouncer and his huge hulking frame is covered in tattoos. It’s got a nice old-school vibe to it, with leather and wood and straight razor shaves and home-brewed bay rum. I haven’t heard any ethnic slurs, but the last time I was there I did have a riveting, curse-filled conversation about serial killers and the women who love them. Overall, it’s a place that makes me feel like a man in a world that increasingly seems like it’s trying to make me less manly. I feel like I’ve found sanctuary, and I think Art would approve.

At Patsy's the straight razor shave and bay rum reminded me of my youth while at same time making me feel like a man. It was so good, that I decided I wanted that several times a week, so I did some research bought a DE razor and some other supplies. Although I'm still relatively new, I know there's no going back.

So, how about you? How did you get into wet shaving? Is there any place that you have found that is like a man-sanctuary to you? Please share your stories!

2 234
Reply
 10-09-2012, 09:25 AM
#2
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
User Info
My story is about the same. Growing up back in the 50's would go to Mack's Barber Shop in Cockrell Hill, Texas (suburb of Dallas). Same site, sounds, and smells of most shops back in that time.

As for as the shave part, learned that from my Dad. He bought me a razor, brush, and some soap when I was 15 and I have not missed a day since.

By the way, nice write-up.

173 23,538
Reply
 10-09-2012, 09:36 AM
#3
User Info
It all started because I got tired of paying for cartridges.... Or maybe it started when I was little and my fascination with sharp objects....

Whatever the case, I bought a straight razor my first year of college. Never went back. Of course, brushes and soap followed.

That's the short story. The long one isn't any better, Tongue

9 2,988
Reply
 10-09-2012, 10:01 AM
#4
  • Dave
  • Moderator Emeritus
User Info
My wife bought me a VDH Brush and soap. I started doing research and now this. All her fault

116 3,804
Reply
 10-09-2012, 10:37 AM
#5
User Info
(10-09-2012, 09:09 AM)el_mustango Wrote: When I was but a wee lad, my father would take me to the barber shop every few weeks to get my hair cut. The barber was a vet named Art who learned how to cut hair in the Navy during the Korean War. Everyone called him "Art the Barber", but my brother and I affectionately referred to him as "Art the Butcher", because he mainly gave one type of haircut- the buzz-cut. To call him "old school" would be an understatement.

All the men in my family went to Art the Barber- my dad, my grandfather, my uncles, my brother and my male cousins. There would always be at least 2 or 3 older gentlemen in the shop, hanging out, reading the newspaper and bull-shitting. I learned how to properly swear thanks to the men hanging out in Art's barber shop. I also learned countless ethnic slurs. Don't worry, no need to be offended- every ethnicity was slurred. It didn't matter if you were black, white, Asian, Middle Eastern, Irish, Italian, Polish, Mexican, Russian, Swiss... the old curmudgeons hanging out at Art's were equal opportunity bigots.

Art himself was a character. His purple heart and other military medals hung on the wall. He gave straight razor shaves with hot shaving cream. He would sharpen the razor on an old leather strop that hung from his chair. Whenever us young boys were around, he would try to convince us that the shaving cream was actually whipped cream, and he would “eat” it. I'm still, to this day, not sure if he actually ate the shaving cream or he was a master at sleight of hand. Even before we were old enough to have to shave, Art would go through the motions and give us a fake shave (which made us all feel "manly"). After each haircut and shave, he would ask very loudly if we wanted "French Wee Wee Water" (he was referring to Pinaud Clubman original aftershave) just to knock us down a few pegs, again.

There were a few other Barber Shops in my hometown. There was Dick Shay’s, where the men talked exclusively about fly fishing. There was retired Big Band trumpeter Joe Sperenza’s shop, where Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin could always be heard in the background (side story- on my brother’s wedding day we went to Joe’s just to get a trim. My brother was sporting a beard at the time. Dick shaved the beard off and left just a pencil thin mustache ala Errol Flynn. When my brother’s wife walked down the aisle, she did a double take upon seeing his freshly-shorn face, and actually whispered to him, on the alter, “what the hell happened?!”) But those other shops couldn’t hold a candle to Art’s Barber Shop. To this day when I smell Pinaud- Clubman, I am transported back in time. After Art retired, it took me years to find a replacement. During High School and College, I just let me hair grow (something Art would curse me out for whenever we occasionally bumped into each other on the street). After college, my girlfriends and then eventually my wife cut my hair. It was cheap and convenient, but it was an experience that always felt lacking. I would occasionally try a place like Fantastic Sam’s and I would always leave hugely disappointed.

Thankfully, about six months ago I found a new Barber Shop. It’s in downtown Albany, NY and it’s called Patsy’s. The owner – Tragedy – is a former-bouncer and his huge hulking frame is covered in tattoos. It’s got a nice old-school vibe to it, with leather and wood and straight razor shaves and home-brewed bay rum. I haven’t heard any ethnic slurs, but the last time I was there I did have a riveting, curse-filled conversation about serial killers and the women who love them. Overall, it’s a place that makes me feel like a man in a world that increasingly seems like it’s trying to make me less manly. I feel like I’ve found sanctuary, and I think Art would approve.

At Patsy's the straight razor shave and bay rum reminded me of my youth while at same time making me feel like a man. It was so good, that I decided I wanted that several times a week, so I did some research bought a DE razor and some other supplies. Although I'm still relatively new, I know there's no going back.

So, how about you? How did you get into wet shaving? Is there any place that you have found that is like a man-sanctuary to you? Please share your stories!

Outstanding story..
Thanks... I really enjoyed reading it....

I only remember a bit.My Dad and his leather Dopp Kit and SuperSpeed Razor
He gave me an old SuperSpeed to fake shave with...

As for the Barber Shops and such... I also remember hanging out with my Uncle as a kid.He was a high roller and went to places in downtown Chicago with dark wood paneled walls,big plush leather chairs & couch,fancy Oriental rugs and coffee tables covered with men's magazines like Esquire,Playboy etc,etc. I remember the scents,Didn't know what they were but I use Bay Rum and Pinuad cause they seem right.

7 414
Reply
 10-09-2012, 11:08 AM
#6
User Info
I got into wet shaving by stages. There was a little pharmacy by the college I went to that sold shaving brushes (cheap, to be sure, but brushes nonetheless). So I bought one and some soap. The other guys in my dorm thought I was nuts.

I got away from it after college. The canned goop was faster and I got sucked in by the "newest, bestest-ever razor" ads. A few years ago my wife bought me a new brush and mug set, and I haven't looked back.

A few months ago I finally got sick of paying out the nose for new cartridges and made the leap to DE razors. At some point I'm sure I'll try a straight razor, but I'm not there yet. Around that time I stumbled across some of the better creams and soaps, along with this site, and the combination convinced me to pay more attention to the shave and enjoy it for what it is.

Sounds simple, but it's amazing how much that 10-15 minutes in the morning helps my mood for the rest of the day.

0 98
Reply
 10-09-2012, 11:14 AM
#7
User Info
40 years of bad shaving experiences. I started about the time cartridges and disposables became the norm. I'd get a good shave on Monday. On Tuesday irritation began to take hold and the shave wasn't as good. Wednesday-Friday this condition progressed. I didn't shave on the weekend if I could possibly avoid it because I needed that time to heal. My dad was a confirmed electric razor shaver and pushed me in that direction, but I couldn't stand the results.

[Image: shaver.jpg]

By the beginning of 2010 I had had enough. I gave my Braun electric razor one more chance but the brand new blades lost their sharpness in one week. $30 down the drain. Then I gave my Gillette Fusion one more try. You're supposed to change the cartridge when the green face protection strip loses its color and it lost its color in two days. When Fusions were first introduced I could go several weeks with one cartridge. These razors had gotten so expensive that merchants were putting them in theft-proof cases.

I ran across an article online called The Zen of Shaving http://zenhabits.net/the-zen-of-shaving-...your-life/ . I immediately ordered a Parker 91R double edge razor. It was defective because the razor blade was not parallel with the guard on the side. But I blamed myself that it didn't work and kept trying for two weeks. Finally I contacted a vendor, described the problem, and got confirmation that it was defective. To make sure it didn't happen again I ordered a razor from HIM just like HIS. I couldn't believe how close and comfortable the shaves were. A major irritation in my life was healed when I found DE razors. I also like single edge razors.

Straight razor shaving is what I really love. I have always been fascinated watching people use them in movies and I honestly did not know they were still around. It took me two years to master the art and I'm still working at proficiency with stropping and honing.

I honestly believe that disposables and especially cartridge razors are a fraud pushed on the public for the benefit of the people who have made them all that's usually available at stores. I am sure glad to be rid of them.

0 282
Reply
 10-09-2012, 12:03 PM
#8
User Info
When I first started college in the mid-90s, I got a Gilette Sensor Excel in a welcome pack at the dorms. That was my first razor. Prior to that, I mostly "borrowed" my older brother's electric razor once a week to shave the little patches of peach fuzz that I was able to grow at the time.

It's a genius marketing technique to give kids a free razor when they move into dorms, as you get them hooked on buying your proprietary cartridges. It worked for me anyway, as I used the Sensor for years until I left it in a hotel. After losing the Sensor, I bought the newest cartridge razor at the time without thinking about it much, which was the battery powered Mach 3. I used the battery function once and thought it was completely ridiculous.

I was never really a canned goo guy. I have fairly sensitive skin, so for years I had been using the unscented cream from Trader Joe's, which is pretty darn good as far as brushless creams go (I think it's rebranded Alba, and my local TJ's doesn't sell the unscented anymore). But the breaking point was when I ran out of the lot of Mach 3 cartridges that I bought on ebay. Even getting them half-price on ebay, I knew I was getting ripped off, and when I opened my last pack, I decided that I wasn't going to spend another dime on them. I'd long been intrigued by the idea of traditional wet shaving, so I did some research on the internet and decided to give it a go. That's what led me to the forums, which in turn led to becoming more invested in shaving than I ever thought I'd be.

2 129
Reply
 10-09-2012, 12:29 PM
#9
User Info
I'd run out of Edge gel and stopped to pick up a replacemet. When looking I noticed a tube of shaving cream (Kaloderma) that had a free brush offer, so it being cheaper than my standard gel, I decided to try it. Shaving with the cream and the brush got me to thinking 'now this is the way to shave'.

A few weeks later I was browsing in a store and saw a Dovo Best, so naturely I bought it, took it home, and tried to shave. With no instruction and a dull blade the shave wasn't great to say the least. So I searched the internet, found a forum, learned a great deal and have been using a straight ever since.

A couple years ago I picked up a fat boy at a flea market and took up DE and SE shaving for the days I don't have time to straight shave. Now I have so much stuff I have to hide some of it.

0 59
Reply
 10-09-2012, 12:46 PM
#10
User Info
My son, while a cadet at West Point, was introduced to wet shaving and he liked it so much he ordered a tube of Musgo Real cream from Bullgoose and had it sent to me. I bought a Vulfix 404 and a 34C from Bullgoose and tried it all out. I fell in love with the routine of wet shaving and the serenity that accompanies the preparation and actual shaving. I look forward to the morning shave; what soap, which brush, slant or SE? It is fun!

6 230
Reply
 10-09-2012, 12:51 PM
#11
  • Howler
  • A calamophile and vintage razor lover
  • Fort Smith AR
User Info
My journey initially it was to be free of the high cost of cartridges. As my journey continued it became much more then savings it became a lifestyle choice.

For years I squirted goop into my hand, smeared on my face, hurriedly shaved to get it done. It was a chore.

Today I chose a shave soap or cream, a warmed brush lather mounds of luxury. Then I chose a razor and a blade. Slowly I shave to enjoy the shave, it is not a chore any longer, it has become a joy.

I was never one to use after shave today I enjoy using a array of after shave splashes and balms.

I'm glad that I have found traditional wet shaving, making the lifestyle change.

1 3,507
Reply
 10-09-2012, 03:04 PM
#12
  • J_fro
  • Senior Member
  • From the 716!
User Info
I was bearded for most of the last decade. This included some time spent in the seminary where my facial hair was one of the choices *I* could make- so of course I stopped trimming it for months on end.

I kept a shorter beard in the years after the seminary until this summer. My grandfather died and when the family went to Florida, preceding me, they found my grandmother in the grips of some hard core dementia. Bearded men irritated her.

I used my last crappy 700 blade cartridge that day before I flew out for the funeral etc. I had just gone through some life changes as well, so I figuerd I would stay clean shaven as an outward sign of inner conversion. I also knew there was no way in hell I would pay the cartridge price to get very little satisfaction. I had been using AoS stuff for years to trim up (shoot when you are just cleaning up that soap lasts FOR-EV-ER) so I was not entirely new to wet shaving, just DE, SE, Straight.

12 648
Reply
 10-09-2012, 03:13 PM
#13
User Info
When my elderly dad died in 2005, I inherited his 3 vintage Gillette razors. He had used canned foam, and the razors were his only concession to tradition. But they got me curious about traditional shaving, and I started investigating. Soon I had started to buy tubes of shaving cream, and that was the start of the journey.

184 12,003
Reply
 10-09-2012, 03:52 PM
#14
User Info
Nice read! I remember that barber shop, but the old gents really were that in the best sense. They looked after the kid (that'd be me). Nothing but the best of memories from that barber shop.

I began wet shaving as a response to the high cost of cartridges in an effort to save $. Lots of us know about that. OK, I'm saving money if you take into account everything I have can be sold to recoup the outlay.

Then I realized shaving can actually be enjoyable and not just a chore.

Then I remembered the Bay Rum of my youth that the barber would splash on me after finishing my haircut with the razor. I began making Bay Rum to relive that. Then realized I had some sort of retarded talent for scent and aftershave. That's where I am today.

32 6,309
Reply
 10-09-2012, 06:59 PM
#15
  • Grumpy
  • Senior Member
  • DisneyLand
User Info
How I got Started ...

I am one of the Lucky Ones in that I hardly ever get any irritation, never if ever get an ingrown hair, can shave with just about anything, use either just hot water or goo from a can and put nothing on my face after a shave ... No Balm, No AfterShave, No Nothing and I can get up in the morning and shave again.

I remember my Dad using a DE and my Mother too. I even remember shaving with a DE when I was a teenager.

Then, I left home and the first razor I bought was a Trac II. I used the Trac II and a Can of Goo for about 6 or 7 years.

I kept getting sick of the gunk that would get caught between the Trac II Blade and one day I saw a Puck of Yummy Williams Soap and a Shaving Brush in the Grocery Store.

I still used the Trac II and then the Mach III because I did not know that there was any other shaving products out there and as long as it was not broken it didn't need to be fixed.

So Williams was my one and only Soap for a very long time ... over 20 years.

Finally, I noticed the cost of the Mach III Blades and I got pissed.

And I went on the Internet a couple of years ago and found the Solution Straight Razor Shaving.

While the cost of a Straight was not that much, all of the other stuff that is needed is what surprised me. The Strops, the Hones, the Oil, a couple of extra razors, the different types of Hones, the Pastes, etc.

So I started to acquire some stuff. (I found the internet and a portal to a New World.)

In the meantime, I was using the Mach III.

And finally one day because I did not have the time to spend on the straight but, I needed to shave quickly ... I used the Mach III and went and ordered a DE off of the Bay.

Now I have Straights for the fun of it, 2) DEs for the time when I have less time for a Straight and 3) SEs and Injectors for something a little different. (The New World of the Internet was open to me.)

But, I now look at shaving differently.

It is more of a Joy.

There is more to experience.

It is a Lost Art.

And so I am going to teach my two Boys to Shave with a DE/SE and with a Straight.

While my 15 year old can shave with a Weber, it is harder to teach him the proper techniques to use to shave when he just wants to get it done as fast as he can so he can go do something else.

Kinda sounds like me when I was young.

Mabye that is why I am now Grumpy.

But, I doubt it.

1 819
Reply
 10-09-2012, 10:04 PM
#16
User Info
Got tired of the electric and never enjoyed the cartridges.
Browsed the net last October and have never looked back.
i really enjoyed your story!

75 20,883
Reply
 10-10-2012, 12:03 AM
#17
User Info
I switched to traditional wetshaving when I was in the run up for a twelve month deployment to Africa - partly because I knew that cartridges would be hard to get and electricity would be spotty at best, partly because I've never gotten a good shave from cartridges and electric razors anyhow.

I became enthusiastic partly because I found that it gave me a damn fine shave, and partly because of, well, what I call the Zen of Shaving. You could make the argument I use my shavetime for meditation Tongue

3 3,577
Reply
 10-10-2012, 12:18 AM
#18
  • Leon
  • Active Member
  • Porto, Portugal
User Info
"what caused you to become a wet shave enthusiast?"

Shortly after buying a brush and cream, I began searching the net for more products. Shortly after, I realized that the immense quantity of distinct products would be a terrific and fun way to find what would suite me best.

There are so many distinct great stuff, that's probably the thing I cherish the most in wet shaving - trying the immense variety of quality products.

Every morning I use a combo that I most probably never used before because the combinations are infinite.

4 313
Reply
 10-10-2012, 06:47 AM
#19
User Info
Great responses (and thanks for the compliments). I used the mach 3 and the green gel from a can for years. mostly because it was quick and easy. I never got a great shave, but I have to admit I wasn't one of those people who had their faces wrecked by it either. but, there was something lacking... I like how Hans put it- I enjoy the Zen of Shaving that occurs with a wet shave. and I agree with Leon- the amount of choices is also nice. I tend to be a collector, so it's fun to collect wet shave items (especially because unlike, say Art or Tin Robots, the wet shave supplies actually get used). plus, as we all know, the mach 3 carts are ridonkulously expensive.

2 234
Reply
 10-10-2012, 08:59 AM
#20
  • RedRocks
  • Active Member
  • Four-Corners, USA
User Info
Great stories! And I can seem to relate to about 90% of them in one way or another.

I began shaving in the late 60's. Dad let me try his DE a few times & I even snuck a shave or two with his electric. I used a Schick Stick & canned stuff (Foamy?) until college ('72), then moved on to a Trac II. I got the Trac II, (OS) mug, soap, and (ER-150) brush and used that combo up until about 10 years ago when I switched to Edge Gel (why, oh why?). I got back into DE this spring & promptly found my brush & mug AND a little soap in the bottom of the mug! Got rid of the canned goo, but I am keeping the Trac II (both of them).

~Frank

18 271
Reply
Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)