Thursday, June 9, 2011

The legendary Gerry’s Barber Shop in Long Beach has closed after 20 years.

I got turned on to the coolest, hippest barber shop- maybe in the whole world- by my uncle, Alfred Hayes, almost a decade ago. His friend, Gerry, ran the place for decades. The shop was located near the corner of Spring Street and
Bellflower Boulevard in Long Beach, part of a strip mall that included everything from a bicycle store, to a christian book store, and a fitness club, more on that later.
6-13-2011. Update. I dropped by Gerry’s home for a visit and
found out that his mother and Christine; mentioned and pictured in this post, both passed away in 2010. I was very sorry to hear this.

Recently a good friend, Tad Birdwell, said that he had driven by the barbershop a couple of times and he thought it had closed. I had fallen out of touch with Gerry and my last visit was actually sometime around the fall of 2010 I believe. I immediately drove over and here is what I found.
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And another showing the inside.
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Now I was really stumped as I figured the only way Gerry would ever leave this
place was on his shield, holding his scissors and barber clippers. Walking around, I discovered that the beauty shop and christian bookstore were also emptied out.

I went home and did some research on the net and found an article which verified my hunch that the landlord had forced all of them out, everyone was gone now except for the 24 Hour Fitness and the bicycle shop, way down at the end of the building. The article with all the details can be found here:
Beloved Barbershop, Beauty Parlor Evicted.

The bottom line is that the owner of the shopping center evicted those businesses to allow the fitness center to expand. According to the article, Gerry took it pretty hard, hearing this news about my friend motivated to do more research where I came across this video.

Why did Gerry’s Barber Shop close?

And now an editorial word here. Look folks, even though we lost touch, Gerry was and is a friend of mine. I am not too pleased with this video which casts a very unflattering light on him, in my opinion. It would have been nice to maybe call and make an appointment, or at least warn him that a camera crew was coming over.

What I saw showed a friend who has taken this loss to heart. Going from running a successful barber shop for decades, where he was master of his domain, a place that attracted different types of folks, where by word of mouth, young hip folks would drop in from all over just to see what they had heard about- I can’t let this remain unanswered.

Gerry used to call me the “official photographer” of the barber shop, after I used the words myself a few times first, I must confess Winking smile.

So allow me to share some photographs with you dear readers, and some of
the good times there- after I wipe my eyes.

I am saddened that I was not around for this disgraceful and dishonorable eviction that occurred in December, to think they tossed these folks out after decades with only a 30 day notice- and the damned properties are still empty today! I wouldn’t be surprised if they never get around to expanding the fitness center, considering how the economics are at the moment. Enough of that, on to what I promised you.
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This was my favorite of the hundreds of photo’s I made at Gerry’s. By the way, the photos were made from around
2004 or so on.
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That’s my uncle, Alfred Hayes on the left, Christine and Gerry on the right. Who’s that looking over Gerry’s shoulder?

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My friend, Tad Birdwell, awaiting his turn in the chair. Tad is the one who told me that Gerry’s shop appeared to be closed.
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Gerry’s old car talked about in the article and on the video.
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Gerry in the middle with Miss Genny on the left, and Christine on the right, sorry If I misspelled any names.
This was a film shot scanned to a digital file.The King, Miss Elvira, and Marilyn are looking on.
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Gerry with his bus driver friend Bobby enjoying good times. Bobby was a great guy.
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Gerry kicking back. This was taken with a wide angle lens as you can probably guess.
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Who’s next?
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From time to time, Gerry would bring a band on a Saturday afternoon,
I don’t know how he managed to cut hair, be his own camera man, and run
the whole show!
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Starting a jazz riff!
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Christine and her friend who was a heck of a guitar player!
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Gerry and friend cutting the rug in a place called the jug.
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That’s Johnny of Johnny’s Blues Band in the middle, his wife was the singer in the previous photo of the dance floor.
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Gerry and Miss Genny out friend having lunch in happier times.

I remember the good times. I remember how when I’d saunter in, Gerry would say,”heh Sonny, what’s happening?” When I would get up to leave, he would always say,”time to saddle up?”
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Yes those were good times, not forgotten and I plan on heading over and seeing how things really are, if he plans on staying semi- retired as he said in the video.

I would like to leave you folks with what I feel is one of the best portraits that I have ever done, of my friend, Gerry.
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Vaya con dios, my friends. And take it from one who knows now, keep in touch
with your friends, don’t be a stranger. Learn from my example.