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Barber's 55-year career a model of perseverance

Staff writer

Martin Bina’s career as a barber didn’t start on a good note in 1962.

He was to graduate from barber school the same day his brother got married, so Bina skipped work that Saturday on the assurance that he would be fine.

“I went back that Monday to get my diploma, and for missing that half-day they gave me a ‘U,’ ” he said. “That was one grade-point lower for the year. I paid well for it.”

A Pilsen-area native, Bina has been a stalwart in Marion County since then, having seen generations pass and hairstyle trends rise and fall.

Having practiced the trade in Marion since the mid-1960s Bina has a deep-seated connection, even though he could have made more money in a different profession.

“I always was satisfied here,” he said. “They’ve been very good to me

Longer hair styles of the 1970s came with their challenges, but Bina persevered without having to go back to barber school like some of his colleagues.

“That’s when a lot of barbers gave it up,” he said. “They were going to beauty shops and all that at the time. I was able to hang on. You had to learn how to cut that longer hair.”

Another factor often in flux is interaction with customers. Adapting to whether a patron is talkative or not comes with experience, said Bina, who has several people who have been regulars for decades.

“Once you’re in the business a while you can really tell what their interests are in or if they want to talk,” he said.

Bina is no stranger to tradition as a customer. He had been using the same barber in Newton to cut his own hair for 50 years, until the barber died.

“Some barbers cut their own hair,” he said. “I always enjoyed getting my hair cut so I never did try, even through this pandemic.”

Last modified June 18, 2020

 

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