Sunday, August 19, 2007

Clover Barber Shop


my flickr

"I been a barber since seven," Ercole Riccardelli tells me in his thick Neapolitan accent as he holds a buzzing set of clippers over my head, "I was short. My grandfather gave me a step. I stood on it and put on the soap with the brush. When I was fourteen, I shaved the customers."

He's 84 now and plans to live as long as his grandfather, a man who made it to 99 (and 7 months) by never once seeing a doctor and by drinking a glass of Brioschi with lemon every morning then smoking a pipe while he watched the Naples fishermen fish before he opened his barber shop for the day.

photo by axlotl

If you go to the Clover Barbershop in Park Slope, be prepared to spend some time. Mr. Riccardelli moves very, very slowly. But his lines are straight and his hand is steady on the razor blade. When he finishes the hot-foam shave, he slaps your face with Osage oil and fans you coolingly with his towel. There aren't many places left where you can get treatment like this for little money.

Italian barbers might be the best. I used to see Sal on Mott Street, but a few years ago he closed up. First he stopped giving shaves because his hands got shaky. The next time I went back, he was gone. An upscale salon took his place. Then there's an amazing shop run by Harry Fini, but you have to go all the way to Philly for his hot towels, talk of Frank Sinatra, and the sign outside that says, "Enjoy barbering as did your dad."

Sal on Mott from Mr. Beller's

Harry's Shop from my flickr stream

Back in Brooklyn, Mr. Riccardelli's daughter has been urging him to close up shop and move to Florida, where he can enjoy the beach and swim in water as warm as the Mediterranean he longs for. But he's not ready to go just yet. "As long as my hands are good," he says, "I'll be right here."

Let's hope he lasts as long as his grandfather did.


tommy piscatelli said...

i am glad someone has covered this... well done.. there are very few good italian barbers left.. shops like these are being closed down for high end money hungry cunt salons,,, bless this man...

Unknown said...

Hey, can you tell me what the address is for this barber shop. I really miss the old school Italian Barber where I used to live and would like to find sombody here in NYC. Sounds like a great place.


Jeremiah Moss said...

it is a great place--and it's on 7th ave and 12th street, or maybe 11th, but thereabouts, in park slope, close to the 7th ave F stop. good luck!

Anonymous said...

I got one of my worst hair cute ever there. My favorite Slope barber is George. Very taciturn Greek guy. He used to have a barbershop at the west corner of 11th and 5th, now he is on the other side of 5th, next to 11th Avenue Car Service. About $8m for a decent trim.