Sept. 11, 2006

Stein's Barber Shop moving to new location

By Cullen Schultz
Staff Writer

Fran Stein is no stranger to Delano.

Stein has been cutting hair in Delano for 39 years. He and his late father, Armand, worked out of the same shop on River Street since 1932.

When construction is completed, it is all about to change; Stein is moving his shop to 203 Bridge Ave., across the street from the Delano City Hall.

Stein has roots in Delano dating back to the 1850s when the area was called Big Woods.

His grandfather, John, helped build what is now the True Value Hardware Store and opened the Corner Saloon in 1895.

Armand started working in barber shops in 1912. He was eight years old, and started off by shining shoes and lathering faces for shaves.

During World War I, there was a shortage of barbers in Delano, because a majority of the barbers went to work in defense plants for the war effort, Fran said. Armand’s brother- in-law, Charlie Bock, took him to the governor, and the governor granted the 15-year-old his license.

In 1922, Armand caught a ride on a freight train with his barber equipment to Seattle. He moved on to Los Angeles and finally, Hollywood.

In Hollywood he cut hair for celebrity William Boyd, better known as Hopalong Cassidy. He had a regular customer who would tip him $5 for a haircut, which would be roughly a $150 tip today, Fran said.

Armand moved back to Delano in 1926 working for various barbers. In 1932, he opened his own shop which is known today as Stein’s Barber Shop.

He worked six days a week, and would work for an occasional 20-hour day. Armand worked those types of hours because there were five other barber shops in town.

“He always said ‘If I wouldn’t let them in, someone else would,’” Fran said.

Armand worked in the shop for 46 years, until he retired in 1978 at the age of 76. In total, he cut hair for 61 years.

Fran Stein started working at the shop in 1967 after he graduated barber school at the age of 25.

He has been cutting hair in the shop for 39 years.

“I still have many of the same customers I had in 1967,” Fran said.

In 39 years, Fran has had only two sick days, excluding the three days he was not at work after having prostate surgery.

Last June, Fran went in for a routine checkup and found out he had prostate cancer.

Since Fran had regular check-ups, the doctors caught it in its early stages, and were able to operate before the cancer had a chance to spread. He had surgery Aug. 3 and was back at work Aug. 7.

Fran went on to say, “One in six men gets prostate cancer, and that’s why I want all my customers to get PSA cancer screening blood tests.”

The history of Stein’s Barber Shop will not end when it moves to its new location.

The backbar, from the 1800s; chairs, bought new in 1917; and the hand-cranked barber pole will accompany Fran on the move.

“There is only one or two of those types of barber poles left in the country,” Fran said.

Stein’s Barber Shop has a 10-year lease at its new location, and Fran doesn’t plan on quitting anytime soon.

Asking Fran if there was any other job he would like to try, he responded, “Absolutely none, I love my job. I love waking up and going to work.”

Stein’s Barber Shop is open 7:15 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and from 6 to 11 a.m. Saturdays.

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