Morgan L. Trudeau, dean of Pittsfield barbers, has retired and isn’t too happy about it.
“I wasn’t intending to quit,” he explained, “but when the bank ordered me to vacate I figured it was too late at my age (he will be 88 on Sept. 9) to set up shop in another location.
“Now,” he continued, “I am around home without much to do except help with the dishes and do a few other chores.”
Trudeau, whose appearance and vigor belie his age, has been barbering for 65 years and has had his own shop for 42 years. He has been in the Cooper Block on Fenn Street, first on the street level and then upstairs, for more than 30 years. Recently the block was sold to the City Savings Bank for use in its expansion program.
A native of this city, Trudeau peddled the Pittsfield Journal when he was 9 years old and this was a two-newspaper town. His first job after graduating from Rice School was with the Robbins & Kellogg shoe factory where his father was foreman. Later, he worked for the Cheshire Shoe Store before deciding at the age of 23 to take up barbering.
“When I started in,” he recalled, “haircuts were 25 cents, shaves 10 cents and neck trims 15 cents. Later, haircuts jumped to 50 cents, then 60 cents and on up to where they are today.”
“In the good old days,” Trudeau reminisced, “men prided themselves on their appearance and thought nothing of having their hair cut every week or at least every 10 days. That period gradually stretched to two or three weeks and eventually to no haircuts at all for some of the young crowd today.”
“I wouldn’t mind so much,” he added, “because that’s their privilege, if they would only wash their hair and keep it nice and clean.”
Long hair for men — but not today’s extreme — was in vogue in his day, Trudeau noted, and so were sideburns, moustaches and beards.
“Men were very particular about their moustaches,” Trudeau said, “especially those who sported handlebars. You had to curl the end with slate pencil or paper and put wax on the end to hold it.”
Some men had their moustaches dyed to hide the tell-tale traces of gray. This was done with two dyes, according to the tonsorial veteran, which came in Bottle No. 1 and Bottle No. 2 in that order. An associate made the mistake of reversing the order one day, Trudeau remembered, and the moustache came up green and had to be shaved off.