Last December I found myself wandering Frenchtown, NJ and was drawn to this building.
I decided to take a closer look. Especially at the barber shop.
The deco “smoking” sign caught my eye. But now I think it was probably just a faded “no smoking” sign. Schaible’s was closed that day. But a man’s lifetime was locked inside.
So I leaned up against the window and looked more closely. I’ve always loved how reflections seem to capture dual realities. Especially how you can see inside and outside at the same time. It’s disorienting and illuminating, like how thinking deeply about something can lead you in different directions.
And looking at all this stuff, I feel part voyeur, part anthropologist. So much is familiar; so much unknown. Like someone else’s memories seeping into consciousness… or something you almost see out of the corner of your eye. You can almost hear them passing the time, a joke, some gossip, a proud moment.
Well, that’s my last photo and I thought that was the end of the story. But there’s a little bit more. I found a photo of Don Schaible. And learned that there’s been a barber shop there since 1901. And that Don spent most of his life working there. His shop was even featured in a book about small town barber shops.
And I guess the reason it was closed was probably due to illness. Because two months after I took these photos, Don passed away. You can find out more here.