After 50 years of cutting hair, barber Ken Comba recently found himself applying his shears to the locks of a local “sheriff,” planted in a barber’s chair that was easily 100 years old.
Comba, who normally works from home in Killarney as a professional barber, was recruited for an afternoon in January to cut the hair of a few friends in town. Farmer Charlie Baldock from Lena, Manitoba, had retired to live in the lakeside town a couple of years ago, and outfitted his new basement with some unusual antiques he has collected throughout his life, including the barber’s chair.
“My brother, Jim Baldock, bought it in Ninga 30 years ago at a community centre auction,” said Baldock. “He paid $20 for it. It was painted white and black, and we had it redone 15 years ago. I had the woodwork refinished, and the chrome done in Saskatoon. They stripped the paint and varnished it. It’s just a conversation piece, and we sit around and talk about it. We don’t know for sure where it came from.”
Made by Jones Brothers and Co. in Toronto, Ontario, Comba, aged 68, said he had seen chairs like it before. That’s probably because he started his career in Winnipeg at the age of 17, serving a 4-1/2-year apprenticeship at the Gilchrist Barber Shop before moving on to St. Claude, and then to Killarney. He’s been cutting hair in Killarney since 1965, and says he has around 100 regular customers.
“The cost for a haircut in the shop is $5,” said Comba. “It’s $10 when I’m out. I guess I still like it – I’m still at it. Brush cuts were popular in the 1950s, and some of them still wear them. Most people get a short haircut these days.”
Comba said it was “quite a chair,” as the shorn curls and locks collected around his feet. Jim Sabad, the unoffi cially declared “Sheriff of Holmfield,” put on his best outfit for his haircut, including his star badge. He even had his eyebrows trimmed to keep his look sharp.
“That’s in the deal,” said Baldock, who says he polishes the extensive tensive chrome on the chair once a year with a flannel rag to keep it in top shape.
Comba says there have been nine members of his family, including uncles, who have followed the lure and click of the barber’s scissors.
“I’m the last of them,” he said. – Kim Langen writes from
STILL IN USE: The barber chair
was restored by Charlie Baldock after his brother Jim
got it from an auction 30 years ago.