My little town, 25 miles north of Manhattan, is so charming it’s been used as a set for several films: Purple Rose of Cairo, The Preacher’s Wife, Mona Lisa Smile and The Good Shepherd.
But Oliver’s Barber Shop, used in the Purple Rose of Cairo, is suddenly gone.
It had two huge, perfect 1930s windows, filled with plants and flags and signs. It was, in its own funky way, a set piece, literally. I loved everything about it and even did a watercolor painting of it about six years ago, framed it and gave it to my sweetie for Christmas. Oddly, the brick around those windows remains a lighter beige, painted for the movie to look more photogenic.
But the barber shop (now a trendy hair salon) is gone for good and I’m in shock and in mourning. I will miss that window, in its ancient messiness, terribly.
I love old things and their patina of age, doors whose paint is alligatored and faded, porcelain that is crazed with a thousand tiny cracks, silver a little banged up, textiles worn thin by someone else’s skin. I can’t explain its hold on me, the ancient. Maybe because it helps me feel anchored by centuries past, not adrift in a world of noise, plastic and neon.
We tend to photograph the unusual and the special: births, christenings, graduations, weddings — but not the quotidian. We’re too busy or assume the things we love about our neighborhoods, our cities and towns and rural landscapes, will always be there.
The disappearance of Oliver’s was a great wake-up call.
Love it before it’s gone.
Take a photo — keep a memory.