You may have noticed that Cliff’s Barber Shop in West Duluth is for sale. The proprietor, Clifford E. Johnson, died two years ago. I took the photo above in April, when Cliff’s shop was being cleared out after an estate sale.
At the estate sale were boxes upon boxes of old slides. Most of them were of vacations to Hawaii and so on, but I found two boxes that had some local images, so I plopped down $10 and brought them home for a slide show. The fine folks at Swim Creative have scanned a few of them for me to share on PDD.
The photos I’m presenting today are from a box dated “1964″ and titled “Myrtle and Bill’s Trip to Minn.” All of the shots I’ve chosen feature a guy I’m pretty sure is Cliff.
[UPDATE: It turns out, it's not Cliff. According to Cliff's son, Tom, all the family photos were removed from the slide collection, and he doesn't know who the guy is in these shots.]
I only knew Cliff briefly — he cut my hair about three times when he was 77ish years old. In these photos he would be about 45, if it’s him. [But it's not.]
[Now, as for the real Cliff Johnson ...]
The photo at left is actually of Cliff. It’s from his obituary. Cliff took over his father’s barber shop in 1953 and closed it in 2008. He was famous for only knowing how to do one haircut — his. No matter what instructions you gave him about how to cut your hair, you would end up with a flattop. But it was a perfect flattop. Cliff was a perfectionist.
My favorite memory of Cliff is that he would tell me long jokes and then put his clipper right next to my ear when he told the punchline, so I couldn’t hear it over the buzzing.
He also gave me a great piece of advice about marriage. He said a lot of people think it’s a 50/50 give-and-take thing. “Marriage is almost never 50/50,” he told me. “You’re always picking each other up. So sometimes you give 90 percent and get back 10. Sometimes it’s the other way around. That’s how marriage really works.”
Well said, Cliff.
The other images from Cliff’s basement I’ll be sharing are scenes of Duluth from 1962. Look for them in future posts.