Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 29, 2014

Fort Wayne barber's retirement ends 64-year era

(Continued)

His shop still had the original barber chairs and cabinetry with shaving mugs and brushes and clippers strategically placed at each station.

Up until the day he retired, Rizzo still used the original manual cash register - an ornate work of art with large keys that rang up only to a maximum of $2.

“When I started, I charged 50 cents for a haircut,” he said, laughing. “It eventually went up to $1 and then $1.50.”

At the time of his retirement, the going rate was $12 to $15, although he was known to offer generous discounts.

“I had a lot of older guys and World War II veterans for customers,” he said.

Rizzo remembers when many of his customers were from the Allen County Public Library and Rogers and Maloley’s grocery stores and when shops like Wolf & Dessauer department store and Murphy’s Dime Store dominated downtown.

“There used to be a lot of doctors along Wayne Street and many of them were my customers,” Rizzo said, “but, they’re all gone now.”

“We often went to Coney Island and got a soda for a nickel and three coney dogs for $1,” he said, “and I can still go there and eat,” he added, looking amazed.

Rizzo retired now because in 10 years more he would be too old, he said.

And he didn’t retire earlier because working from 8 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Saturday got him “out of the house,” he said.

Even though he’s closed his shop, Rizzo is not worried about becoming inactive because his family and hobbies keep him busy.

“Every Sunday all the kids and grandkids come over. We have a lot of fun,” he said.

He and his wife, Helen, had six children: Gloria Myers, Barbara Baus, Nick Rizzo, Elaine Petersen, Phil Rizzo Jr. and Barry Rizzo, who have added 12 grandchildren to the clan.

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