Notes from the Museums: Barbers and Their Roles

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Notes from the Museums: Barbers and Their Roles

Fri, 11/13/2020 - 15:42
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by MARY SHELDON, President Hernando Historical Museum Assoc., Inc.

The May-Stringer Museum features a doctor’s office in honor of Dr. Sheldon Stringer, Sr. who once lived in and had his medical practice in this building.  In one corner of the room sits a barber’s chair!  It turns out that there is an actual connection between barbers and medical treatment. Besides cutting hair and giving shaves, barbers, at one time, also provided dental extractions and bloodletting! The colors on the poles outside the barbershop indicated which services were available. Whether in Europe or America, the red stripe indicated blood and the white indicated bandages. Blue was added in America and may have been a patriotic gesture. There doesn’t seem to be one specific definition of what the colors on the pole meant, but perhaps the local area dictated the colors and meaning. Some say the pole represented the pole that the customer/patient gripped during the bloodletting procedure or extraction. Seems like a good idea if you didn’t have novocaine! The exhibit at the May-Stringer includes straight edge razors, shaving mugs, and brushes. There is also a leather strop used for sharpening the razors. 

The Museums are open!    

Reservations are recommended.

  • The May-Stringer Tours: Thursday, Friday & Saturday 352-799-0129 
  • The 1885 Depot: Tours Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 352-799-4766      
  • The Countryman One Room Schoolhouse: By appointment 352-515-3054 
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