Reporting Lisa Fielding
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Inside the Gale Oak Barber shop in Chicago’s Galewood neighborhood, everyone knows your name.
“It is a family kinda neighborhood, kinda traditional kinda place,” said owner Dennis Peluso
The tiny shop on North Avenue is always a buzz with the latest hot topics.
“We solve the world’s problems, but we cause some problems too,” laughed Peluso. “but religion and politics are off limits,” he laughed.”It’s usually a war between the Cubs and the Sox.”
After 60 years, Peluso closed up shop for good on June 30th.
“It’s time, it’s time. I’m retiring and moving closer to my family on the West Coast.”
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Peluso inherited the shop from his father who opened the shop in 1951. He learned the trade from him and his mentor and partner Carl Monaco.
“I had no idea I was ever going to be a barber. I can’t tell you how that happened,”
A striped barber pole in the corner, four vintage chairs and over 500 sports illustrated covers on the walls, the shop represents a time gone by.
“You don’t see a lot of barber shops with the regular red, white and blue spinning pole, you don’t see a lot of that anymore. It’s part of Americana that’s going by the wayside, kinda like the neighborhood hardware store, the neighborhood bakery. You don’t see that anymore,” said Peluso.
Peluso along with Monaco have cut generations of hair.
“You could be working behind a counter selling a sweater to somebody, chances are you’re not going to sell that guy’s grandson a sweater, right? Chances are giving somebody a haircut, 20, 30 years down the line, eh, it’s a possibility. I’ve given many boys their first haircuts, then they bring in their kids.”
Mark Seesaw was emotional as he realized he’d have to go elsewhere for his next haircut.
“I’ve been riding my bike up here since I was in fifth grade. I rode up here by myself when it was a five and dime. I’d see Dennis and get my haircut, we always got lollipops” said Seesaw. “People get pretty personal when they get their haircut. I was pretty sad, I said where am I going to get my haircut now? Dennis is always a friendly face. I always have to have my Christmas haircut, my birthday haircut, Fourth of July.”
As Peluso takes his last appointments, he looks ahead but looks back with no regrets.
“It’s real bittersweet. I’m anxious to go onward, but yet this has meant a lot.”
Peluso is heading west to retire but he finds comfort in knowing his small barbershop made a big difference.
“Its humbling to know that you meant something to people.We don’t think about that all the time. The last few weeks have been overwhelming. I’m flattered by how emotional my clients have been,” said Peluso. “I’ve realized that they take a piece of me with them every time they leave here.”