Upon entering Galati’s Barber Shop, you can’t help but feel the warm, comfortable, familiar atmosphere. This particular morning, sitting in the middle seat of three barber chairs was a young dad with his son seated on his lap.
Patrick Carlson, Carmine Galati’s nephew, was cutting the lad’s hair while having a good chat with the boy’s father. Carmen Galati, the present day owner, was talking with and working on an older gentleman in the first chair, and Maryanne Curcio was busy chatting with and cutting her customer’s hair. It was like a well-oiled machine.
When going for a haircut, one doesn’t usually think of much more than getting the necessary job done. However, at Galati’s, one quickly gets the sense of being a part of local history. Galati’s is decidedly ‘small town’ which is a big part of its charm. Carmine Galati is the latest in a family of barbers. (It seems that cutting hair is in their blood; it’s almost a rite-of-passage.)
His grandfather, Joseph, emigrated from Italy back in 1906 to call the USA his home. After a brief stint in Schenectady, NY, and then Harrisburg, PA, Joseph Galati set up his first barber shop on Hospital Street in Carbondale on December 1, 1917.
Three years later he moved it to its present location at 15 Salem Ave. (It should be noted that in 2005, Carmine had a spacious new structure built at that location; it is a modern, brightly lit brick building with lots of windows, mirrors and two wall mounted televisions.)
And right in step with the season’s holidays, it is presently festooned with an array of Christmas decorations including garland and a full size Christmas tree, complete with lights, ornaments and tinsel!
Galati’s is part of Carbondale’s history. It is thought to be the second oldest, continuously operated, family business in Carbondale, only out done by Barbour’s Bakery, just up the street on Salem Ave.
(Back in the 1960’s Carmine noted that there were over 30 barber shops in Carbondale. Today there are but a handful with Galati’s having reached the century milestone this month!
This family-owned and operated fixture of the city has seen some very diverse times: the roaring 20’s; the Great Depression; the disco days and hair styles of the 60’s and 70’s; flat tops, buzz cuts, mohawks, and now haircuts by number!
(Patrick noted that he may occasionally not recall someone’s first name, but he never forgets the kind of cut they get. Using barber lingo, it might be “2 on the sides and trim the top” or “the usual”.)
But through it all, much has not changed. You still can get a reasonably priced, great haircut, and a close shave including hot lather, with a straight razor sharpened by a real leather strap.
There aren’t many barbershops around that can claim those bragging rights! And, to boot, the barber chairs in the shop have been there since 1932 – newly covered, but the original, real deals!
Besides Carmine, Galati’s has three employees – Jamie DePalma, Maryanne Curcio, and Patrick Carlson. And it just so happens that Carmine is Pat’s uncle and just as Carmine followed in his father’s (Salvatore’s) footsteps, Patrick is hoping to some day succeed Carmine and thus maintain Galati’s Barber Shop as a family-owned and operated business well past this century milestone.
Carmine has been cutting hair since he was a senior in high school – that was some 50 years ago! And Patrick, a comparative newbie, has been cutting hair for more than 18 years.
He also is quick to mention that he has been coming to the shop since he was only 8 years old! Carmine commented how his father used to have the first chair, farthest to the left, in the shop and after his father retired, that chair became Carmine’s.
Then Patrick chimed in, with a lot of respect as conveyed by the tone of his voice, that some day he hopes that will become ‘his’ chair. He noted how proud both his grandfather and great grandfather would be to see how their business is thriving.
In talking with any of the barbers, you can clearly tell that cutting hair is not merely a job. They speak of their vocation and business with a great deal of pride and of their customers with warm familiarity and affection, especially since they have known some of their patrons since they were just toddlers themselves and vice versa.
They genuinely care about one another.
They often know the family histories of their customers, and actually, they don’t seem like customers at all; they are more like family – a big extended family in the greater Carbondale area. Everyone who enters the shop always is greeted with a warm smile and by his or her first name! This familiarity is comfortable and the every day banter is like a metaphor of Small Town America.
Carmine will occasionally be asked to do ‘a house call’ for someone unable to make it down to the shop or to cut someone’s hair at an area nursing home.
This may seem to be something that one might expect from living in a small town, but nevertheless, in today’s world, this really is remarkable in that it simply is part of what is done to help out a friend in need. Galati’s is much more than a business.
Can you imagine a patron-age-range of over one hundred years? Indeed, Galati’s has customers as young as 6 months of age and others well past the century mark! Those demographics would be the envy of any business, small or large, any where, and any time!