You got hair cut, slice of life in 'hole'

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By Robert Howey

Recently looking over some old photographs of downtown and news of the death of an uptown guy sent me down memory lane.

The death of Frank Ghent took me back in time when downtown was a hopping place in the Red Rose City.

Mr. Ghent, who died Feb. 26, was one of the two barbers at "the hole," also known as the Friendly Barber Shop.

The place was quite friendly, but what about "the hole?"

The name was because it was located below street level between the Lancaster Bakery and Parr Theater. You took the gray-painted stairs off Main Street and walked into a fun place to get your hair cut.

Frank Ghent and Hazel Adams could cut your hair. When I was a youngster, one of them trimmed my hair often.

I still recall the big, room-length mirror behind the chairs, the bottles of hair tonic, Butch Wax and clean barber shop smell.

I remember paying a $1 for a haircut and getting a dime back. Often, I used that dime to buy a Coke in the old hand crank machine in the shop.

The Cokes were always cold and the conversation lively.

Sports was usually the main topic in "the hole."

There's some irony there since "in the hole" is a baseball term, referring to the third batter in a new inning.

Mr. Ghent was usually the more vocal, while Mr. Adams was the quiet guy with a dry sense of humor. Their styles - cutting or conversation - meshed well.

I recall one visit to "the hole" and we were talking college sports. The hot topics that day were the Gamecocks and Tigers.

Somehow, Duke came up during our discussion.

Mr. Ghent quickly stopped cutting and with an emphatic wave of a comb, said, "Son, we don't talk about Duke in this barber shop."

Duke wasn't a real popular topic, especially with Gamecocks basketball fans in the mid-1960s through the early 1970s. That was due to fragile feelings between Duke and USC during those times in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Well, time passes, things change and we all move on.

My senior year in high school, while working a Springs Industries' seniors reunion at Springs Park, was one of the last times I remember seeing Mr. Ghent.

He told me he had recently attended a Lancaster High School football game and saw No. 53 in the program.

I grinned as he said,"Hey, I know that guy," Mr. Ghent said. "That was you."

He made me feel good showing he was still following me. I sensed a feeling of pride on his part since he had a hand in my upbringing.

Funny how things happen.

The day after Mr. Ghent died, my wife, Anne, told me she wanted to go to a visitation for a friend at her school, Brooklyn Springs teacher Kathy Snipes, one of the Ghent children.

The line was long, a reflection of a well-respected man.

I didn't realize the connection, but when I did I was glad to be there. The memories came flooding back, a wave of good times.

Frank Ghent gave a quality trim, was a real cutup and a slice of life you were glad to have experienced.

Robert Howey is sports editor for The Lancaster News.