Tim Missler: I’ll miss hearing, ‘Silver Shears … Art speaking’


By Tim Missler - Contributing Columnist



“Silver Shears … Art speaking.”

Art Brinkman has been cutting my hair for more than 50 years. Aside from my brothers and sisters and some friends from elementary school, I’ve know him longer than I’ve known anyone else.

At first my dad would stuff a couple of bucks in my pocket and send me down the street for my monthly haircut. When I was a teenager I avoided Art like the plague until Dad would notice that he had a wannabe Rolling Stone in the family and Dad wasn’t a fan of the Rolling Stones. So down the street to Art’s. Years later I admitted to him that my teenage friends all called him “The Butcher.” He didn’t like that very much and he explained to me that he was doing what our fathers all wanted him to do: Try to make us look respectable.

Art’s funeral was Monday. He died Wednesday at the age of 74.

When you think about it, our relationship with our barber is unique. I wish I had recorded all my conversations with Art through the years. It’s not like your doctor: “Turn your head and cough” isn’t a conversation. Or your dentist: How can you tell him about your new job with a drill in your mouth? No the barbershop is where you can really learn about life. Once you forgave him for being a Tiger’s fan, you could have some great conversations about baseball. Art was a really good player in his day but I had to pry that out of him. He ran the Boston Marathon too … twice!

Through the years, Art told me about his family. He had two sons; one has lived with some really big challenges. The other became a very successful doctor. He loved both of them the same with great intensity and pride. In these years, his dear wife, Mary, has struggled with cancer. Art would tell me about it because I would ask. But he would never complain. Not a word. When we love someone, we make the effort. Period.

I don’t know how other barbers are. With Art, you knew you were in for some stimulating conversation. He always wanted to know how things in my life were going. What are you working on? What’s new with you? If he was faking it, I sure never caught on. For 20 minutes every two or three weeks, I had the opportunity to sit and brag a little, tell a joke if I could remember one, or listen to one of his.

If you wanted to give Art a little grief, you knew he could easily take it but beware, you were going to receive some grief right back. I watched 1,000 guys insult Art Brinkman and I saw him insult 1,000 guys, but I never heard a bad word about him. I saw him cut the hair of Republicans and Democrats and they all were treated the same. And they all thought the world of him. He had a way of making you want to be a better person each time you left his shop.

Barbers Giving Bikes started out quietly enough. A few bikes the first year. Art and fellow barber Jim Sherrick believed that every little child should know what it feels like to have a shiny new bike at Christmas even if their parents couldn’t afford one. And although he never sought the limelight, he was always willing to talk about the cause if it would get more people involved. Barbers Giving Bikes is an amazing legacy to leave.

We have role models all around us if we pay attention. Our parents, our teachers, priest or pastor, even our sports heroes. What I didn’t realize until now is that one of my biggest role models was my barber. Our fathers sent us to Art to make us respectable and with soft-spoken dignity, he did just that. “Silver Shears … Art speaking.”

By Tim Missler

Contributing Columnist

Tim Missler is a resident of Elida.

Tim Missler is a resident of Elida.

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