Daisy Garcia Montoya
If you’ve ever been to Joe Vento’s Barber Shop, you know that for $9, not only do you get an old-school barbershop experience, but you become a part of the “barbershop family.”
That is why announcing his official retirement to The Northeast News was not easy. With the new health safety guidelines taking away from the haircut experience due to COVID-19, Vento said it is time to leave while he remains healthy.
“It’s a shame to leave it. But there’s times you have to go,” said Vento.
Being a multi-generation barber, Vento has given many children their first haircuts only to later do so for their children and so on. As he watched the neighborhood evolve and change throughout the years, he says that he would often forget that just as everyone is getting older, so is he.
Vento, who first began to cut hair in December of 1957, reflects on his nearly 63 years of service by saying that he has never worked a day in his life. To him, there is nobody who has had a job and has been more content than he has, he said.
“Well, just for a high school diploma from Northeast High School, I’ve accomplished more than I could have had with a master’s degree in anything. People made me very intelligent about situations, very cautious about life. You can’t ask for more than that,” said Vento.
As word broke about Vento’s retirement on social media, many people expressed their thoughts about him leaving the Northeast.
“I have great memories of that place, thank you for cutting my hair over the years. Joe is a great guy. He will be missed on the Avenue,” shared Roque Ortiz.
Others expressed the mixed feelings that came with the news.
“Thank you Joe for a lifetime of service for the community. It’s bittersweet for me to see you retire but happy for you at the same time. Enjoy your family and take care of yourself. Love ya!,” shared Ray Castellano.
When speaking on the most rewarding part of his job, the friendships made were number one.
“It’s amazing, it’s been a good ride for me. I’ve never hated it. You know, I’ve never made a lot of money. My wealth is the friendship I made with people,” said Vento.
He said that his clients would call him about marriage problems asking for advice or just to talk, which was very rewarding to him. People living as far away as Chicago have been impacted by Vento, still remembering him years later. “That makes me a happy person, you know, those kinds of stories just make you fall in love with your life again, you know, so I couldn’t have had better from 17 years old on to now,” said Vento.
When asked what he would tell kids these days, he replied, “You’re everything that goes around you, baby. Your mind is like a blotter. It absorbs everything…So when you’re growing up, you know, you take everything in, because it all builds up to a beautiful life.”
Although Vento will be leaving the Northeast as he heads into retirement, he thanks the community for the support they’ve had for him throughout the years.
“All I want to do is say thank you. Everyone has been so loyal. They’ve been a barbershop family. They’re good people here. I love the Northeast. If you come or are from the Northeast, you make yourself a very rich person.”