A morning at Gennuso’s Barbershop

21 photos

Chuck Gennuso has been cutting hair since 1958. He opened his own shop on York Road, just south of Towson, in 1975. Since then it’s become a local institution, serving several generations of area families. “Between our five barbers,” Chuck says, “we have 250 years of experience.”

Little has changed in the cozy shop since then. The walls are covered with framed prints of sports figures, presidents and celebrities. There’s a singing bass fish to make the kids laugh, and lots of mirrors so customers can watch the work in progress, then admire their new ‘dos.

The shop, which is open six days a week, starts seeing customers at 7:30 on Saturday morning. First to come in are regulars such as Peter Terry of Baltimore, who has been getting a haircut at Gennuso’s for “at least 30 years,” he said. This morning, barber Charlie Monnin does the job. Mr. Monnin is 81 years old and has been a barber in this shop for over 50 years, even before Chuck purchased the establishment.

Barber Garry Oster, who has been in the trade for 49 years, has some customers waiting this morning, including Kevin Karwacki and his six-year-old son, Brendan. Kevin came here with his dad, and now brings his sons. That’s three generations of guys who wait patiently for their turn with Garry. Joe May of Towson, a regular customer said of Garry “There’s no fuss, no muss, and it’s cut exactly as I like it. Nice and short.”

Joseph Lewis (50 years as a barber) and Annette Jones (49 years as a barber) round out the hair-cutting roster. Customer Louis Panlilio of Baltimore, who is working with Annette today, says about the shop “It’s fast, friendly and they do a good job. I’d rather go to a locally owned business than a big franchise.” It’s a sentiment that was shared by several other customers.

Business is calm and steady until four-year-old Andy McCabe arrives around 10. He enjoys sitting with his mom, Kim Whittle, and checking out the toy box, blissfully unaware of what’s in store. Suddenly it’s his turn in Annette’s chair, and he’s upset. After a few tears, he sits on his mom’s lap, shaken but okay. Then Annette turns on the electric clippers, and Andy is catapulted into frantic wails. Annette has a good grip on his head, and Kim tries her best to calm him. A couple of lollipops work their magic, and Andy settles into the torture with a grim stoicism. Five minutes later, all is well and he’s smiling and high-fiving. Annette takes it all in with a knowing smile.

During a rare lull in the action Garry works on a soduku puzzle as Chuck looks out the window onto York Road. Charlie relaxes in his chair and Joseph watches some television. Until the door opens again, and in walks the next customer, hanging up his coat. “What’ll it be today?” asks one of the barbers. And life goes on at Gennuso’s barbershop.