At his job for 68 years, barber has no desire to retire

Published on July 25, 2012 by

Logging 40 years in the same occupation is certainly a full career.

If someone is able to do 50 years in the same field, that’s definitely seen as unique.

But working 68 years at the same job? That’s almost unheard of.

Paul Provenzano has done just that.

Provenzano, 80, began cutting hair when he was only 12 years old. And he’s never stopped since.

“I just love cutting hair, and I enjoy people,” said Provenzano, a Trumbull resident.

The owner of Paul’s Hair Cutters in Monroe, Provenzano still cuts hair three days of the week. If it it weren’t for a back problem that flared up in recent years, he would be working five days. He has no plans to retire.

“I’d go crazy if I wasn’t working,” he said.

Provenzano got his start working with his father in the Sandy Hook Barber Shop in Newtown. The year was 1944, and America was still in World War II.

“I remember my first customer. Mr. Stefenko. He was an old farmer in Newtown. I gave him a short haircut. That’s what the farmers liked, short haircuts,” Provenzano said.

The price was 50 cents.

After working with his father for a number of years, Provenzano opened his own shop on Main Street in Bridgeport’s North End in 1957. The cost of a haircut had inched up to $1. Provenzano stayed there for more than 40 years, then worked at a Trumbull location for 12 years and now works in Monroe.

Provenzano’s long career has allowed him to see all the hair styles come and go, and then come back again.

Back in 1957, “it was all flat-tops and crew cuts,” Provenzano said. “Then you go into the late 1960s, the Beatles, and the ’70s, and it was long hair. We did ‘shag cuts’ and ‘layer cuts.’ I had to go back to school for that.

“Now we’re back to crew cuts, flat-tops,” and a new style favored by young people called ‘shape-outs,’” he said.

Provenzano is a bubbly man who swaps stories with his customers as he cuts their hair and alternately greets others as they arrive at his shop.

“Hey Richie! How are ya?” Provenzano called out as a man came through the door. “How’s your family?”

Paul’s Hair Cutters is a multi-generational affair. Grandson Tony is a haircutter and granddaughter Tina runs the hair salon adjacent to the barber shop.

“I really enjoy my customers and I’m so happy to have them (Tony and Tina) here too,” Provenzano said.

A good number of the people who got a haircut at Paul’s during the Bridgeport years have stayed loyal to Provenzano, following him to Trumbull and now Monroe. Some come from as far away as Vermont.

“It’s a comfortable atmosphere, and he’s always gracious,” said Richard Huydic, who went to Paul’s more than 30 years ago on the recommendation of a co-worker.
“Now my son comes in here, and my daughter brought her two children,” said Huydic, of Easton.

Commenting on Provenzano’s dedication, Huydic said Provenzano sometimes goes on his days off to cut hair for an elderly or sick person unable to leave their home.

“How many barbers will do that?” Huydic asked.

Rounding out the staff at Paul’s are Joe Casini, Marco DiVincenzo and Laura Yarish, all barbers, and Charlotte Popisil, hairstylist in the salon.

Provenzano’s wife Dorothy commented on why her husband doesn’t want to stop working.

“He would really miss the customers,” she said. “It probably keeps him young.”