The art of shaving and cutting passes from grandfather to grandson

The Enterprise — Anne Hayden Harwood

Honing his art, Michael Blake shaves a customer, Lucas Muller, with a straight razor at the Westmere Barbershop, where he works with his grandfather, Joseph De Lorenzo. De Lorenzo will soon be turning the shop over to Blake.

GUILDERLAND — Joseph De Lorenzo has been a barber in Guilderland for 57 years. He is proud to be passing the trade on to his grandson, Michael Blake.

De Lorenzo owns the Westmere Barbershop, at 1823 Western Avenue, but, when he first started out, his shop was located in Stuyvesant Plaza.

He said he graduated from high school and wasn’t sure what he wanted to do for a career, so he decided to follow the path his brother-in-law had taken, and went to barber school in 1957.

“Haircuts were $1.25 back then,” he said, and the majority of the clientele were middle-aged men.

Now Blake, 25, who has been working in the barbershop with his grandfather for two months, is drawing in a younger crowd, and a men’s haircut costs $15.

Blake said he has always looked up to his grandfather and knew that he, too, wanted to be a barber.

He attended the Austin School of Spa Technology to learn the basics before completing a two-year apprenticeship at a shop in Clifton Park.

“My grandfather wasn’t going to let me work with him until I had the experience,” said Blake, with a laugh. “I didn’t want to ruin his reputation!”

De Lorenzo said his favorite part of barbering is getting to know the different clients and the conversations he has with them.

Blake also enjoys the social aspect.

“A barbershop should be a man’s playground,” he said. “You come in, chat, relax; it’s like an escape.”

It is not just the conversation that Blake enjoys, though.

“To me, it’s more than just a haircut,” he said. “It’s an art; I love seeing what someone envisions and making it happen.”

When De Lorenzo retires — he calls himself semi-retired at the moment — Blake will take over the Westmere Barbershop.

“I’m very proud that he wanted to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps,” said De Lorenzo.

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