FORT WAYNE (AP) — After 64 years of cutting hair on Broadway, Phil Rizzo has spun the heavy leather barber chair and brushed the hair off the back of a client’s neck for the last time.
Rizzo, who will be 90 in August, has retired.
It’s a bit of a shock, he said Wednesday while packing up his things.
“At the end of the month, it will all be gone and so will I,” he said.
Rizzo’s father, Nick, started the original shop on the southeast corner of Broadway and West Washington Boulevard at 1011 Broadway.
Phil and his brother Sam decided to go to barber school shortly after both had spent several years overseas during World War II.
Rizzo graduated from Central Catholic High School and got married when he was 18. His wife was pregnant when he was drafted into the Army’s 106th Infantry Division.
He spent three years “fighting all over Europe,” he said. When he finally came home, he met his 3-year-old daughter for the first time.
“She didn’t know me from Adam,” he told The Journal Gazette.
His brother was injured in the war and later spent many years working with disabled veterans in Allen County, Rizzo said.
Father and both sons worked together for about 14 years before moving about a block south to 1122 Broadway, where Phil has been for 50 years.
His father died in 1971 at the age of 76, and his brother left the barber shop to pursue other interests.
Nick, armed with his father’s barber pole and antique neon sign “Nick’s Barber Shop” in the front window, continued to serve his customers, some for decades.
He didn’t advertise and never had a phone in the shop, but he had plenty of customers. Slightly built with an amicable smile and impish twinkle in his eyes, Phil Rizzo was comfortable talking to friends and strangers alike - a good trait for a barber to have, he said.