Barbering is "shear" pleasure for Orefield man
Folks who hate to part with out-of-date clothing often justify their stuffed closets by insisting the fashions will be back in style, if we only wait long enough.
The same goes for hairstyles. Think, for example, of the bob cut, popular in the 1920s and '30s.
It's back and looks as fresh today as it did on our mothers or grandmothers.
Men's styles, too, have come full circle.
Just ask Terry Stoudt, 75, of Orefield.
A barber since 1957, Stoudt says the cuts he learned while attending Philadelphia School of Barbering, especially the crew cuts and flat tops, are once again in demand.
"Styles are almost back to when I started," he said.
And when he started his career more than 50 years ago, it was in the same Allentown location he occupies today.
"After nine months of training in school, we had to serve an apprenticeship," Stoudt recalled. "I came back to this area and apprenticed with a barber here at Linden Barber Shop. I worked for him for seven years, until he died."
After the barber's death, Stoudt bought the building and the business at 11th and Linden streets in Allentown.
Coming back to Allentown to set up shop also completed a circle of life for Stoudt.
Born in Allentown, he remembers living in New Jersey, Texas and Georgia as a young child.
His father was a lieutenant commander in the Navy, and the family moved often.
"We moved back here to Germansville when I was in second grade," Stoudt said. "I attended a one-room schoolhouse through eighth grade."
He moved on to Slatington High School, where he played baseball, football and basketball.
Which was his favorite sport? He couldn't choose.
"Each season, that sport was my favorite," he said.
In high school he did not aspire to become a barber.
"I wanted to go to college, but I waited too long to apply, so I couldn't get in until January. I was working in a slate mill and decided I just wanted to go to school," he said.
Stoudt's grandfather gave him two choices: go to barber school or learn to be an oil burner mechanic.
The rest is history.
Stoudt has no doubt he made the right decision.
A people person, he enjoys the "many interesting people" who patronize his barber shop.
"It's never boring," he said.
Many clients are well-known sports figures, since Stoudt, himself, has played an active role in athletics since his youth.
For 45 years he has coached both American Legion baseball and youth football. He also refereed NCAA Division I college basketball for 40 years, traveling "all over the country," he said.
When asked to name some famous clients, Stoudt immediately mentioned Jim Honochick, American League umpire; Mike Lisetski, originally of Northampton, a National Football League referee; and Leo Steckel, originally of Whitehall, a Minnesota Vikings football coach.
"Almost every basketball and football coach in the Lehigh Valley came in here. Saturday mornings the place was packed. They'd tell stories and lies," Stoudt said, laughing.
He has had his share of memorable moments in the barber shop, too.
"One time there was an accident and a car almost came right through the door. I've had drunks wander in," Stoudt said.
"A kid came in for a moony haircut and later his mother came in the shop and tried to beat me up," Stoudt recalled. Presumably she didn't care for her son's haircut.
When Stoudt is away from barbering, he says he misses the business.
For 12 years he tried the political life, serving as North Whitehall Township supervisor, but after two terms, "I came back here," he said.
Back for four years now, Stoudt says he prefers the barber shop.
"I'd never go into politics again. Nobody trusts you," he said.
Stoudt says he will not leave barbering again.
"As long as I feel as good as I feel, I'm staying," he said.
Looking younger than his 75 years, he keeps physically active by playing golf and by walking for at least 35 minutes each morning before work.
He also hosts "Barbershop Buzz," a Friday night program on Service Electric Cable TV.
From September through April, Stoudt interviews coaches, athletes and sports figures. The show is taped weekly in his barber shop.
"I enjoy being a barber, talking to people. I like the companionship. I feel bad when I'm not here," he said.
"I have no plans to retire," Stoudt added. "I'll probably die here."
Imagining that scenario, he chuckled.
"I know some of the craziest people. My funeral will be crazy."