Monday, February 04, 2002

RADEL: A dad's dream

Like fathers, like sons

By Cliff Radel
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Four chairs. Nick's waiting.

        This is the dream of one Mr. Nicolino “Nick” Salzano, native of his beloved Chiauci, Italy, and hard-working citizen of the United States.

        village in Ita In Italy, he and his three Someday soon, he wants to see his four sons busily cutting hair in his downtown barbershop.

        Then, he'll retire. Hang up his scissors after more than half a century of cutting hair. Go back to his little ly. A happy man. A proud father of four barbers.

        Nick's dream echoes the hopes of all fathers. He wants his kids to get along with each other forever.

        But, he also wants his four boys — Domenico, Angelo, Guido and Giuseppe — to work together. Follow in his razor tracks. Give shaves and haircuts the old-fashioned way.

        “Do a little extra for the people” was the way Nick put it. He stood — barbers are always standing — in his tidy shop just off the lobby of the Atrium Two building.

        As he spoke, his hands demonstrated the little extras. Scalp massage. Neck rub. The hot towel treatment.

        For the treatment, Nick plucks a steaming white towel from an ancient copper autoclave occupying a place of honor in the middle of the shop.

        In one fluid motion, he unfolds the towel. Excess heat escapes. Then, he pats the customer's neck before briefly placing the towel over the face.

        If Nick's dream comes true, it would continue a family tradition. He's big on tradition. And family.

        brothers worked on and off with their father in the family dairy business. At the same time, he was training to be a barber. He started cutting hair when he was 12. At 19, he had his own shop.

        He left for America and Cincinnati in 1956. He immediately found work in the new world with his old-world training as a barber.

        Since then, he's worked for many bosses and for himself. He has never forgotten what it was like to work with family members.

        Nick does more than dream about his four sons working together. He drops powerful hints.

        His shop has four barber sinks. Two barber chairs are in place. There's room for two more.

        Gold letters on his shop window spell out: “Nick Salzano & Sons.”

        So far, it's “& Son.” Thirty-year-old Domenico, Nick's oldest son, is in his seventh year of working with his Dad. The others cut hair at shops in Cheviot and Clifton. They're learning the trade and waiting for business to pick up downtown to fill four chairs.

        Nick got choked up when he tried to put into words what it means to work next to one of his sons.

        “It's such a pleasure,” he said. “I don't compliment him much. I'm very emotional. But, I always look at what he does. He's good.”

        Tears rimmed his eyes. Nick cleared his throat.

        He told how he's been dreaming for 15 years about his boys being together.

        “I've heard a lot about handing down from father to son,” he said. “Four brothers should love each other, help each other, work together. I could train them to be a little like me.”

        Then one day, he could walk into his shop and see four faces he loves standing by four barber chairs.

        “That would be so wonderful,” he said.

        “I would be crying.”

       Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340; e-mail


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