June 2007 Issue
PERSONAL: A father of two and a widower, Mass lives in the Roselawn community of his native Cincinnati.
BACKGROUND: Mass has been cutting hair since 1936 — 60 of those years in downtown Cincinnati. He rides the bus to his Court Street shop every day, opening the doors at about 7 a.m.
HOW IT BEGAN: After graduating from Woodward High School in 1934, Mass worked as a sheet metal helper and hoped to learn that skill. "But during the Depression, the unions had all the apprenticeship programs frozen. I wanted a trade and the only door open was barbering."
HOW IT'S CHANGED: No longer unionized, barbering is now more part of the cosmetics industry than when Mass started out. "A barber is a sculptor. A beautician is a hair arranger. It's a different answer to the problem."
NO 'PRODUCT' HERE:
"No cosmetics, no hairstyling. I use close clippers and shears on dry hair. It takes a higher degree of skill and judgment than cutting wet hair."
FAMOUS HEADS: He mentions Cincinnati business leaders, but adds, "I'm not a status seeker. I have the same attitude toward the porter as I do to the President."
RETIREMENT: "To what? They asked me that 40 years ago. Artists don't retire, they can't."