JERI BLAIR (left) is handing over The Alton Barber Shop to Andrew Levasseur after close to five decades of cutting hair in Alton. (Photo by Joshua Spaulding) (click for larger version)
October 22, 2020ALTON — With masks on, a group of men gathered in the Alton Barber Shop on a recent Friday afternoon, swapping stories, many of which aren't suitable for publication.
The men were there to bid adieu to the man that has been cutting their hair, in some cases for close to five decades.
Jeri Blair opened his barber shop in Laconia in 1964 and 10 years later moved to Alton, where he has been set up on Main Street ever since.
"It's been a great ride," Blair said as he sat among the men who he calls friends and clients. "I've enjoyed it very much."
Blair officially turned over the business to Andrew Levasseur, who has been his business partner for the past eight years. Levasseur started working afternoons and when Blair started going to Florida in the winter, he kept the shop open from December to May and has been working full-time since December.
Blair, who also has earned acclaim as a local coach in both Belmont and Alton, said he always opened the shop early so that he could coach in the afternoons.
"I've had so many great memories," Blair said.
A number of those memories involve Rocky Corson, who used to live above the barber shop and came in every day for 10 years and some days, he would even be waiting when Blair showed up in the morning to open the shop.
The shop was always first-come, first-serve, with no appointments taken. Former New Hampshire International Speedway owner Bob Bahre, who lived in Alton, was one of the people who tried to make an appointment, but as Blair said, "it wouldn't be fair."
One favorite memory was when a group of three different World War II veterans came into the shop together and were sharing stories
Blair also recalls with a laugh the morning when he was living in Belmont and it was snowing like crazy but he still wanted to open the shop. It had snowed all day on Friday and Saturday, he got up early and made his way slowly across Route 140 to the shop and shoveled his way into the shop. He turned the lights on and was patiently waiting in the shop when the police pulled up and came in to check on him. As it turned out, it was an hour earlier than he thought it was and it wasn't even three in the morning.
Levasseur, who will be taking over the barber shop on a full-time basis said that he plans to keep everything the same, though 2020 has taken away a lot of what makes the barber shop what it is.
"I miss the whole social thing, it's just not the same anymore," Levasseur said. "Guys like this make this shop."
With the current pandemic situation, appointments are necessary, and he can be contacted on Facebook at The Alton Barber or by text or phone call at 998-3627 for anyone looking to make an appointment.
"It's been eight wonderful years of working with him," Levasseur said of Blair.
For his part, Blair says when Levasseur needs a vacation or a day off, he might give it a go one more time, for old times sake.
"It's been a good ride," Blair said.
Sports Editor Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.