Tuesday, March 3, 2009

On the Job: Ron Gosselin

Monday, March 2, 2009
On the job
Ronald A. Gosselin, barber and owner of Ron’s Barber Shop, North Grafton

Ronald A. Gosselin at his business, Ron’s Barber Shop in North Grafton. (T&G Staff / MARK C. IDE)

Age: 74
Native of: Northbridge

Residence: Northbridge

Family: Widowed. 11 grandchildren

Time in current job: 50 years

What do you do?

“I opened up in Grafton in 1958. I got a thing on the wall that says, ‘Love your job and never work a day in your life.’ People come in, we shoot the breeze — I enjoy it. I was out of the military, and I don’t know if they still do it, but in those days they paid you to go to school. And I didn’t want to study. I decided to go to barber school and fool around for a while. “This (barber) chair was made in 1901. What happened is that the guy I was friends with, he was my mentor. When I came out of barber school, he retired. He gave me the chair. I’ve had it ever since. It’s an old one. If it could only talk.”

Has anything changed in the past 50 years of cutting hair?

“I don’t use a straight razor because of AIDS. They came out with a law and I’m supposed to wear gloves. But … you can’t feel a person’s face if you have gloves on. “When I first started, Elvis Presley was popular and he used to wear a DA. They would comb the middle part. The top is like a flat-top. The front is left long enough so they could roll it down. It’s the only haircut I’ve never seen come back. The others I’ve seen come back.”

Tell us how you made toupees in the 1970s.

“When long hair was very popular … I put hairpieces together so I could put hair on people. People didn’t want to go bald — everyone wanted hair. So I put hair on, instead of taking it off.”

Ever thought of retiring?

“Nope. I like it. It’s fun. Why should I quit doing something I like? I fell into it by accident. I hadn’t even thought of being a barber, but I thought I’d go to school. “I sure didn’t want to do what I did in the military. I was a medic. That wasn’t for me.”

How many vacation days a year do you give yourself?

“I take one week. I got a house on the ocean, down on the Cape. I go down a lot on the weekends. But after a week, I’m ready to come back.”

So you’ll keep doing this till you can’t stand up anymore?

“Yeah. It’s a funny thing because I can stand up all day long and it doesn’t bother me. I don’t know why my legs have held up. And my hands don’t bother me. Nothing hurts.”

You have a lot of fishing memorabilia on the walls. What is your best fishing tournament story?

“In Rhode Island, Ted Williams beat me. I think in the early 1960s. He was retired. I didn’t follow baseball, so I didn’t know who Ted Williams was. He came over, his boat was in front of mine and he came over with a six-pack every time we’d come back from going out fishing. I came in with a 697-pound tuna. And Mr. Williams came in and set the world’s record, a 1,292 pounder. He was very anxious about fishing. He was quite a fisherman, I’ll tell you that much.”