Thursday, October 11, 2012

Florida History: Haircuts jump 25 cents, spurring "rebellion"

By Jane Feehan

A 25-cent increase in barber shop haircuts sent Fort Lauderdale men into a hair tizzy in 1951, motivating one resident to rejoin the Navy.

A post-World War II booming economy with its pent-up demand spurred inflation during the 1950s. Barber shops were not immune. When shops – many of them union at the time – announced a jump from $1 to $1.25 for a haircut, it nearly caused an open rebellion.  A “loudly wailing majority felt they had been badly imposed upon,” reported the Fort Lauderdale Daily News (Jan. 2, 1951).

Men threatened to buy shears to have wives cut hair at home. Others declared they would stretch out time between visits to barber shops. One even declared he’d had his last haircut. Others felt a price increase was in order but smaller than 25 cents. A minority, including the barber shop union, thought higher prices on nearly everything else – rents, supplies, license fees – warranted a hair cut price increase.

The 25-cent boost persuaded Fort Lauderdale resident Harvey Ingalls of NE 17th Way to rejoin the Navy. He left the Navy in 1949 and thought about returning but did not make a move until the haircut price increase flap. When a national emergency was declared because of the Korean conflict, and the government called for enlistees, he acted swiftly. The price increase “motivated” him to rejoin, Ingalls said (Fort Lauderdale Daily News, Jan. 5, 1951).

But Pompano’s four barbers held firm at $1. “There are two types of people in Pompano – rich and poor,” declared an identified barber. “We must go along with those who would find it a hardship to pay more than $1.” Pompano barbers expected a jump in business with price increase refugees from Fort Lauderdale (Fort Lauderdale Daily News, Jan. 8, 1951).

Barbers in Hollywood, Dania and Hallandale had yet to meet that month to make their decision. Prices had already gone up to $1.25 in Miami and Miami Beach. In 1943 the price of a haircut “jumped” from 50 to 65 cents in South Florida, raising eyebrows. They should see prices today – especially where most men get their hair coiffed – at unisex hair salons.

Tags: Fort Lauderdale in the 1940s, Fort Lauderdale in the 1950s, hair cut prices after World War II, South Florida during the 1950s, history of barber shops in Florida

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