I was location scouting with Belgian documentary film maker Luc Vrydaghs. His new project documents barbershops as a cultural center globally. Detroit is on his list. As is South Africa, and Greenland. Funding comes from the Belgium government support of the arts.
We visited Whitlow’s Barber Lounge, the oldest single owned shop in Detroit at 8034 Wildemere, since 1963. That’s 51 years in business.
Mr. Whitlow is dressed in a crisp white overcoat with an embroidered personal name. A professional. He is your barber, dentist, doctor, and pharmacist.
He greets us graciously offering a gift of a rubbery key chain in the shape of a Detroit Lions helmet. He is a loyal season ticket holder. The inscription reads: “51 years in the same location.”
Mr. Witlow began his career as a barber apprentice to Raymond Parks, husband of Rosa Parks. Two of Mr. Parks barber hand tools are mounted on the mirror backing his chair.
Whitlow’s Barber Lounge is a real lounge…a resting place where customers are more like an old friend . Each customer is a repetition of history thru second, third generation of heads and souls.