The Mystery of Dapper Dan
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The Mystery of Dapper Dan

The Mystery of Dapper Dan

When I was a boy I got my hair cut at Dapper Dan’s. The barber shop was down the street from my house by the Trolley Stop Deli, the Firehouse, the dry cleaners, a bank, an old train station, and the video store where I rented movies for $2.11. It was the hub of hatfield.

I would often walk down to Dapper Dan’s by myself – at least that’s my memory. Here’s the rest of my memory. No one talked. I walked in and just sat down until it was my turn. Others were waiting while someone got his hair cut. But no one talked. The only focus of attention was the constant running of game shows on the small color tv in the corner. Because I often got my hair cut in the later afternoon, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy were the shows of choice and were always on. At my age I had no interest in these shows. My memory of this situation is a depressive one.

I’m not sure why there wasn’t any talking. It was the opposite of a black barber shop where conversation and relationship were the real reason to be there getting one’s hair cut. But this was a very white barber shop and we all awkwardly sat in silence while Pat Sajak or Alex Trebek filled the space and we got our cheap hair cut.

I don’t even have a recollection of what the barber looked like. The lack of conversation rendered this man faceless in my memory. It may have also been because I didn’t even know his real name. According to my mother, she phoned one day to make an appointment and when the barber answered the phone she said, “Is this Dan?”, to which he replied, “No, this is Harry.”  What??  The guy’s name wasn’t Dan?  This didn’t make any sense. It was a strange moment – to learn that Dapper Dan was really Dapper Harry had a real impact on my sense of reality. If Dapper Dan wasn’t the man cutting my hair, who the hell was he? Was he a figure head? And the guy who was cutting my hair is named Harry?  Harry the Barber?  Should’ve called it The Harry Barber.

It was always a relief to be done and get out of there. I must have paid cash that my mother gave me. I can’t recall how much it cost back then. Couldn’t have been more than $5. I probably stopped at the Trolley Stop to pick up some candy, and to pay for that I probably snuck a couple quarters out of my mother’s purse.

And then off I went on my bike to tour the town by myself, which felt like freedom.

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