In 1957 when Joe Vento began what was to become a sixty-two year career of barbering, gas was 24 cents a gallon, a nickel would get you in to the Gladstone Movie Show and a good haircut set you back all of 60 cents or so. These days that same nickel won’t get you far but for $9, a current price actually, Joe Vento, one of two long-time barbers serving generations of Northeast families, would give you a custom hair cut, complete with a hot shaving cream, straight razor trim.
“These aren’t my customers, they’re my barbershop family,” said Vento when he stopped by the offices of The Northeast News to announce his official retirement.
Vento grew up on the streets of Northeast, two doors up Brighton Avenue from his present shop in the 5100 block of Independence Avenue. “December 8, 1957 was my first haircut in the barbershop,” he remembers.
Vento relates a story about when he first started barbering in his shop on the Avenue.“I lived the second house from Thacher School on Brighton. They tore a house down to add to the northeast school. I, I used to, when it was cold and I just started workin for this guy, and I had a 1950 Oldsmobile, 59 Oldsmobile, I didn’t want to get it snowy or dirty. I would leave my basement garage, take one deep breath Michael, and run down the alley to Quincy behind my building tap on the door, and he’d open the door and I’d take the second breath.”
Sixty-two years later, after being shut down for over a month due to the COVID-19 virus, Vento says it’s time to go, citing all the new safety regulations that impersonalize the interaction process an old school barbershop provides.
“What I do makes me feel like a millionaire,” he said. “I may not be rich in the monetary sense, but all the people I’ve had in my chair, my whole barbershop family, some of whom have been with me for four generations, they made me what I am today.”
As someone who’s been part of that family for going on 17 years, the NewsDog is honored that Joe chose to officially announce his retirement here at another staple of Northeast, The Northeast News.Watch for a full interview text in next week’s print edition.