In a shaving mirror

It’s funny how everyday activities can dredge up long-forgotten memories. This morning I was shaving, when I suddenly remembered watching Popeye on TV in the late 1950s, shortly after we had bought our first set.

I remembered episodes involving men going to the barber’s shop for a shave,

A Clean Shaven Man

and having hot towels wrapped around their face. Invariably the towels were hotter than hot, they were scalding, causing the victims to leap out of the chair and run around screaming, trying to tear the towel from their face.

What this can possibly have meant to me as an under-10 year old, I cannot imagine. Even in the 1950s, did men ever go to the barber’s for a shave? (I certainly never saw any.) And if they did, did they ever have hot towels wrapped around their face? Was this something that even happened much in the 1930s, when the episode was made?

There’s a topic here about the peculiar archaeology of children’s cartoons, enshrining customs and events which have ceased to exist anywhere else but in children’s entertainment.

(Personally, I prefer a wet shave with a nice modern shaving gel like King of Shaves. Read their shaving tips here – I wish I’d had them when I was a young shaver, it would have prevented a lot of bloodshed.)

2 thoughts on “In a shaving mirror

  1. I was in the West of Ireland the other day and went into one of the many Turkish-run barbers that have popped up all over the place in the last few years – this one was in Skibbereen. I asked for a trim and a shave and got the full works, including the hot towels, the hairs in my ears burnt off with a smoking incense stick and a pretty thorough scalp and neck massage too. Quite amazing. I hope it catches on in Britain too!

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