first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre “I like what I’m doing,” Lieggi said. “It’s in my blood.” Lieggi began cutting hair at 19, after graduating from high school and attending a barber’s school, becoming a ship’s barber in the Navy during the Korean War. He moved to Whittier in 1954, and after five years working in Downey, then nearly two decades in a Whittier shop on Washington Avenue, Lieggi settled into his place on Hadley. There he would withstand the Whittier Narrows Earthquake in 1987, cultivate his regular client base of 250 and administer first (and sometimes last) haircuts to the shaggy manes that came through his door. The store is decorated with more than a dozen jigsaw puzzles, assembled and preserved by Lieggi and his wife. A barber’s pole spins slowly in the window, and an antique cash register holds the day’s earnings. Lieggi’s son, Ron Lieggi, operated a surfboard shop next door to his father’s business for 20 years. Joseph Lieggi and his wife, Esther, raised seven children on his income from the shop. Ron, 50, said his father is supportive and was a great neighbor. “Since we were both bosses on our own, on our breaks we would talk,” Ron Lieggi said. There was a lot to talk about. Joseph Lieggi cut famous strands over the years, including that of Mark Sanchez, second-string quarterback for USC. Lieggi gave him his first haircut when Sanchez was 14 months old, in 1987. He also sheared the locks from Oscar de la Hoya’s head while the famous boxer lived in Whittier. But Lieggi enjoys his more anonymous clients just as well. First haircuts are a specialty at the shop, and Lieggi has performed many. He also works with many seniors in the community. “It’s delightful to do a lot of these old timers,” Lieggi said. He quietly does what he can for his aging and ailing clients, making house calls for those recovering from strokes, heart attacks or other illnesses. Lieggi said he has 10 to 12 clients he sees at home. Last week, he made a final visit to one customer in the hospital, who died the next day. Most of Lieggi’s clients are seniors, but according to him the demographics at the shop haven’t shifted much since he started. Lieggi attributes this to the services he offers. “I’m just a regular barber,” he said. “No shampoo or rinse or tint, those kinds of things they do in a salon.” His status as a simple barber means he is allowed a barber’s pole in the window, not generally permitted in salons, and a loyal client base of men looking for a simple trim. Sixty years ago, that trim cost $1. Now, a haircut costs $9, while a beard trim sets customers back $3. Long hair costs extra. “There’s still a percentage looking for an old-time barber,” Lieggi said. After an estimated 50,000 haircuts given over 60 years, Lieggi said the business has not changed much. There are fewer barbers in the area than there once were, he said. He’s been the only old-fashioned barber in Whittier for decades, and customers keep coming. Ron Lieggi said he is not surprised that his father will keep working despite selling Joe’s Barber Shop. “He likes to work and he likes his customers,” Ron Lieggi said. “I asked him `Dad, if you had to do it all over again, would you be a barber?’ and he said `You bet. No regrets.”‘ [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WHITTIER – “Take some off the top and the sides,” Ray Seppi said as he lowered himself into the barber’s chair Thursday morning. Seppi, 80, has been seeing the same barber for 20 years. He visits Joseph Lieggi’s shop once every three or four weeks. “Depends on how bad he butchers me up,” Seppi chuckled. Lieggi, 79, will have been cutting hair for 60 years today. Although he is selling the shop he has owned for 30 years in Uptown Whittier, Lieggi has no plans to slow down. While Joe’s Barbershop will be under new ownership, Lieggi will still cut hair three days a week. last_img