Reader Rave: Happy Endings All Around At an OB Barber Shop

by on September 3, 2014 · 0 comments

in Culture, History, Life Events, Ocean Beach

Editor: OB Rag supporter and sometimes commentator, Geoff Page wrote something up about his friend, Ron Pilcher, who ran the Clip Joint for nearly 4 decades –  a men’s barber shop on Santa Monica Avenue. Our reporter, Matthew Wood, also did a write up of the barber shop’s change in ownership back in July.  Here, Page, does some reminiscing of days gone past.

By Geoff Page

This isn’t a sad story because there are two happy endings. But it starts with a bit of nostalgia for an OB that is no more. The pet store on Cable and Newport. The great little breakfast place next door run by the sweet Korean couple. Paras Bookstore. The Coronet. The old men’s store on Bacon and Newport. All gone. And now, the Clip Joint. Ocean Beach is losing another long time business institution, this time to retirement. I am talking, of course, about Ron Pilcher, the man behind the chair at the Clip Joint for 39 years.

Ron and his wife are building a home in a gated community near Tucson, Arizona where Ron plans to play golf and be on his feet only when he feels like it. That is a happy ending to a long, talkative career; he probably won’t be resting his gums though. Ron has always liked a good conversation, which was the best thing about getting clipped at the Clip Joint. The other happy ending is at the end of this piece.

Ron’s small shop sat on the corner of Santa Monica and Sunset Cliffs across from the library and had a good view of the street. When I walked up the first time, looking desperately for a new barber home, I saw a slowly spinning, old-style barber pole outside the door and thought “That’s a good sign.” When I walked inside, I felt at home right away because it looked just like an old style barber shop. The only real difference was Ron only cut hair by appointment, no walk-ins. But that was great because there was no waiting.

Inside the shop was a small couch and a chair, and a table with lots of magazines. I later discovered that there were some different magazines but Ron kept those in a drawer for some reason. There was an old fashioned coat rack. Some sports memorabilia here and there. A picture of one of the Bee Gees on the wall with a poufy haircut and a wide lapel, paisley shirt. No wait, sorry, that was a picture of Ron from the 1970s. There were four chairs. And standing behind one was an old style barber in a blue smock, the perfect final touch to the setting. As it turned out, the guy did a great haircut too. And so I stayed.

Over the many years, I got to know Ron well. Some years ago, I was interviewed by a reporter doing a story about Ron and was asked to say something about him. I said that going to see Ron was like visiting a friend and just happening to get a haircut at the same time. Ron liked that and he hung the story on the wall and told me his customers liked it and agreed with the sentiment. Everybody liked Ron.

Ron hailed from the Midwest. After mustering out of the military in California, Ron decided to attend a barber school on the advice of a friend. Ron worked a few places before buying his shop. He worked for a while in Beverly Hills even, he always mentioned that gig as if he was going to impress anyone in OB with that. But in 1975, he decided to have his own shop in OB and it worked out well for him and for OB. Ron has been around long enough to have cut a small boy’s hair and later the hair of that small boy’s own son.

I don’t speak for all men, but I think I speak for some when I say that changing barbers is a traumatic event for us. When we find a barber we like we stick with them. I’ve been in San Diego since 1977 and have only had two barbers. My first was in La Jolla and I drove up there regularly from OB for years until Tony retired. The next year or so I was lost in the wilderness ricocheting from one unsatisfying experience to another until one day my buddy said, “You should go see Ron.” I was a little doubtful because my buddy was mostly bald but it was my salvation.

My mother once told me you have to learn to laugh at yourself if you want to enjoy life. I learned to do that and I tend to gravitate toward people like that because I enjoy the back and forth banter. Ron is one of those people and he gave as good as he got. That is what I will miss about Ron, the good-natured, animated guy waving his scissors around, getting exercised over something one minute, then quiet and pensive about something else the next. I was comfortable sitting in that chair and so were a lot of other guys because of the person Ron is. So, it is similar to what I said before, I’m not, we’re not, losing just a great barber, we are all losing a friend.

I asked Ron what he might want to say in parting and his response was simple and to the point. He said he was going to miss OB but most of all, he was going to miss his clients because he considered them all his friends. Well, I think I can speak for most of them when I say that we are going to miss Ron as much, or more, as he misses us. If he had a jersey, we’d retire his number forever.

The second happy ending to this story is that the shop remains, cleverly renamed Sunset Clipps. The new owner is Jason Bullard, an OB resident for 25 years. Jason is very enthusiastic about finally owning his own shop right here in OB and he’s brimming with ideas. It will still be a place to get a regular haircut but it will be different, offering more services and with a younger clientele, and more barbers. Hopefully, Jason will have a great 39 years.


{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: