In the 1970s, when you first became a teen-aged dude, your first form of rebellion, your first effort at independence usually involved what was on top of your head.
Once hitting 13, it would be no more getting haircuts with your old man, who liked to take you to his old-school barber and say “make him look decent.” That statement usually meant you were going to walk around for the next month looking like a character from “Leave It To Beaver.”
But something changed for me when I hit 13. Something new and totally different opened on Lake Street next to Muntsy’s Subs. No more haircuts with the old man. I was going to “Headquarters For Men,” at the time a new wave of men’s hair stylists, who would allow you to leave their shops looking less like Jerry Mathers, and more like Derek Sanderson.
Phil Lavoie didn’t flinch when you told him you wanted your hair to still cover your ears, and didn’t argue later on when you wanted to experiment with a mullet. With this approach, this new school barber built a loyal customer base. Keep the ears covered when I was 13. Shave it up close to the scalp and over the ears by the time I reached 40.
“Headquarters,” which moved from the Muntsy’s Plaza to a location further down Lake next to 7 Eleven, and then back to the plaza recently, has for more than 30 years been a West Peabody institution. Its proprietor was the ultimate Peabody guy, who not only knew how to please his younger customers with everything from mullets in the ‘80s to Mohawks in the ‘90s, but also was an old-school barber when it came to conversation with adult customers. Great with the jokes, or the gossip of the day, or social commentary, Phil not only gave great haircuts, but he made it a pleasure to visit him and his sidekick Annie once a month.
This past Friday, Phil Lavoie passed away at age 65.
I was in his shop for a haircut in early April, and never had an inkling that he was even ill.
His wife Linda, and their two children have lost a terrific husband and dad, and Peabody has lost one of its most-popular and much-liked citizens.
Rest in peace, my friend, and thanks for the memories.
If you knew Phil and would like to attend his services, here are the details.