County Fare: After nearly six decades, Lee barber poised to pass the scissors

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For Francis "Monk" Puleri, it's time to cut back.

For nearly six decades, the lifelong Lee resident has been cutting hair, and trimming mustaches and sideburns — making his loyal customers look handsome.

"I'm a barber, not a hairstylist. I give a good haircut," he tells County Fare.

Now, the time has come, says the owner of Monk's Professional Barber Shop in downtown Lee, to put down his scissors and hang up his clippers. Puleri recently retired and turned over the business to a younger barber, Lee native Michael Eckert.

"I think Michael has what it takes to keep the barber tradition going," he said.

Puleri became a barber in 1963, working under Dick Decker in Lenox before opening his own shop next to Joe's Diner at the north end of Main Street. He soon relocated to the current location on Main Street, across from the Lee Library.

Puleri wants to spend more time with his family, especially his eight grandchildren, but he will miss keeping the local men neat and trim above the neck and their daily chatter that filled the shop.

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"I loved my job and I love the people," he said. "It's a place for guys to come in to talk sports, politics — you get to see a lot of great people."

Through County Fare, Puleri bid a fond farewell to his "faithful and dedicated customers."

"Thank you to all the people who made my business a success, and I will miss you all. I had the honor to cut hair for generations of families in our local communities. I will confidently pass the torch to a younger barber, whom I had the opportunity to guide his career. Michael Eckert from Lee will now carry on the traditions that were passed along to me. This young man has the potential to continue this profession for another 58 years. Thank you to all!"

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Paws for a cause

Berkshirites are being asked to pony up donations of dog food, cat food, kitty litter, blankets and other creature comforts for domesticated animals displaced in late August when Hurricane Laura struck the Gulf Coast.

Kathy "Skippy" Hynes, founder/owner of the local pet rescue organization Got Spots Etc., primarily is collecting essentials for pets in need in the hardest-hit area of Lake Charles, La.

"I've been to Lake Charles to rescue [Labrador retrievers]; it's an extremely poor area," Hynes tells County Fare.

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Hynes' pet supply drive is taking place at the Firehouse Cafe in Adams, where items can be dropped off from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays and 4 to 6 p.m. Fridays.

Hynes, a retired flight nurse for the Air Force and private medical air transport, also will make an appointment to accept the goods; you can contact her at Donations will be accepted through Oct. 25.

She has a contact in Lafayette, La., to help with the distribution of the donated items.

This is Hynes' third hurricane-relief drive in three years, and she has seen the aftermath of Mother Nature's wrath in the deep South.

"I personally know about hurricane devastation, as I was a volunteer registered nurse after Hurricane Katrina," she said. "Additionally, I have saved a few dogs from the last North Carolina hurricane, [dogs that] were truly wash-ups from the storm."

Hynes will host a one-day push for donations at the cafe with a "Stuff the Firehouse" event from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 4. Please wear a mask and social distance when donating.

County Fare, a weekly column featuring “tales from throughout the Berkshires,” is compiled by Eagle staffers.


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