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A History of Haircuts In Bethpage

The year was 1970: the average cost of a new house was $23,450; the cost of gasoline was 36 cents a gallon; the country lowered the voting age to 18; Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix both died of drug overdoses; M*A*S*H had just hit the silver screen; and the National Guard shot and killed 4 protesters at Kent State University, including Jeffrey Miller, of Plainview-Old Bethpage’s John F. Kennedy High School.

It was a time of great turbulence, but out of that upheaval, a business was born which would survive more than four decades. Pat’s/Pergament Barber Shop opened its doors 44 years ago in the old Pergament Home Center at 3901 Hempstead Tpke. in Bethpage. And although the Pergament store is long gone, the barber shop and its founder Pasquale “Pat” Palumbo are thriving seven days-a-week with a staff of 11 barbers at their location across the street at 17 Emerson Ave. in Levittown.

In fact, Palumbo said, “Mr. Pergament allowed me to continue operating my shop in the building after the store closed. He handed me the keys to the building. We trusted each other.”  

Few business deals are made over handshakes anymore. Pat’s Barber Shop personifies the old values that would have made that possible. Pergament closed in 1999, and the barber shop operated there until 2003, when the bulldozers arrived to make way for what would become a Pathmark Superstore.

When Palumbo came to America in 1959, he was working in Lower Manhattan plying the trade he learned from his uncle in Sicily as a young boy. Born in 1928, he learned the barbering business literally from the ground up. Sweeping the floors at the young age of 8, it wasn’t long until he started applying shaving soap, before finally being allowed to give his first shave and haircut at the age of 15. Fast forward 31 years, and Palumbo came to New York, in search of his American dream, working at shops in New York City until he had his license, and then opening a series of barber shops in the Financial District. While there, former Governor Mario Cuomo became a customer of his, along with many other political and civic leaders in the City.

Politicians continue to be regular customers of Pat’s, including Assemblyman Joe Saladino and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joe Venditto.

Nassau County Supervisor for the Department of Public Works Tony Camporeale said he has been getting haircuts at the shop since 1972.

“I cannot believe it’s 42 years since I first got my hair cut here,” he said. “You can mark time and your life by this place.”

His barber, Romano, has been with Pat nearly half that time, 20 of his 33 years cutting hair.

“The amazing thing about this place,” according to Palumbo’s daughter Rose Drummond, who manages the shop, “in some cases, there are four generations of customers coming to us. Grandfathers, fathers, their kids and grandkids. It really is a wonder to behold.”

There aren’t many family owned, local businesses with the kind of following that Pat Palumbo has created. Even among his staff — two of whom are with him over 50 years, and collectively possess over 300 years of barbering experience between them — the feeling of family is palpable.

In every way, Pat’s Barber Shop is the real deal. The only thing missing from this shop is an old-fashioned barber pole out front, and a visit from Deputy Barney Fife.

News

It’s hard to imagine that it’s Thanksgiving already. Is it me, or did we just celebrate? Halloween wasn’t even upon us and the stores were stocked with Thanksgiving and Christmas items. We say to ourselves, “each year, it comes earlier and earlier.” While some prepare to cook and figure out where to seat relatives to avoid arguments, others plan to dine out. To many of us, Thanksgiving means shopping on Black Friday. But for the few and far between who look forward to catching the latest film from the array released exclusively for the holiday weekend, the time has come to relish relaxation. Sit back and enjoy the weekend at the movies, while the deliciousness of turkey and stuffing is probably still digesting in your tummy.

The following movies opened on Nov. 26:

The Penguins of Madagascar (PG–92 mins)

The Penguins of Madagascar finally have their own movie. If you’re familiar with the previous Madagascar films, featuring the zoo animals and their adventures, then you already know the funny and lovable spy penguins. Packed with animated fun for the whole family, Skipper, Kowalksi, Rico and Private begin a journey as undercover agents to help stop the notorious villain, Dr. Octavious. New and returning voices include Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich, Tom McGrath, Christopher Knight, Ben Stiller, Chris Rock and many more.

If you have a sweet tooth and want a taste of confectionary perfection, take a drive down Manetto Hill Road. Set far back in a shopping center you will find Sweet Karma Bakery. No matter where you park in the lot, your nose will be greeted by the scent of freshly baked cakes and cookies.

Owner and pastry chef Brian Fishman graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in 1991. He was a savory chef for eight years before he chose pastries over pâtés.


Calendar

Owl Prowl

Saturday, Nov. 29

Holiday Tea

Monday, Dec. 1

Art in the Afternoon

Wednesday, Dec. 3



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com