“American dream came true for me:” Beloved barber hangs up clippers after 60 years

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SHOREWOOD (WITI) -- Saying goodbye to a beloved barber. Saturday, May 31st marked the end of an era for a Shorewood institution. But before "Joe the barber" retired, he shared his thoughts on 60 years in business with FOX6 News.

Behind an old-school storefront on Oakland Avenue is the steady hand of Joe D'Aquisto.

Long-time customer Elliot Lipchik says there's been little change to "Joe the barber's" barbershop over the years.

"It's very comforting to have that stability when you do come in," Lipchik said.

The shop radiates a "mister coffee" vibe in a Starbucks world -- blending the sounds of scissors and singers.

"People like Opera, even if they no understand everything they say, but they like the harmony," D'Aquisto said.

The Italian influence inside his barbershop is as heavy as his accent.

"It doesn't matter how long you live in America. You still have a...when I'm in Italy, I no talk no good English, and no good Italian," D'Aquisto said.

"Joe the barber" has been cutting hair for six decades.

"Joe's been such a staple in the community for so long," loyal customer Jeremy Braun said.

Braun stopped by the shop to get a shave and a haircut.

"I just walked in and I said, 'hey Joe, can I get a haircut?  He looked up at the clock and said, 'I'll take care of you' and I was like, 'I'm coming back here every single time,'" Braun said.

D'Aquisto comes from a long line of barbers. He had already been cutting hair fir years in Italy when he moved to the United States in the 1970s.

"I remember my grandpa at the barbershop...he say much about Milwaukee. He say the best city of the United States -- the most clean town. My grandpa, he was crazy about America. He said 'America is the best country in the world. You got to go someday.' And finally, the time came," D'Aquisto said.

Now, after 60 years at his barbershop, the time to say goodbye has come.

"It's time to enjoy a little bit of life," D'Aquisto said.

D'Aquisto gave his last $15 haircut on Saturday.

"Yeah, I guess I'm going to miss everybody," D'Aquisto said.

D'Aquisto knows that almost everybody looks sharp and feels good after a trip to the barber.

"They look in the mirror and say, 'Oh my God.  I love that,'" D'Aquisto said.

Maybe that's one reason so many former customers have popped in just to say goodbye to Joe.

"It's very, very friendly. It's like relatives," D'Aquisto said.

"This place makes you feel like family," Braun said.

A barber becomes part of your life. He has a recurring role -- played every two or three weeks.

"The fact that Joe's leaving, it's going to leave a big imprint here," Braun said.

"Everybody got to retire someday.  I'm 77 now.  Not a young boy anymore," D'Aquisto said.

At 77, D'Aquisto's hands are still steady, and his shop is as timeless as his story. He's an immigrant who came to this country and lived the American dream, snip by snip.

"It come true because I come and soon I have a job. The American dream come true for me," D'Aquisto said.

Some of D'Aquisto's customers threw him a going away party last Thursday night, May 29th at the barbershop.

Customers came from near and far -- even some who were young boys back when D'Aquisto opened -- came back to wish Joe a happy retirement.

1 Comment

  • Madaline Reddy

    Joe, so sorry I missed this til too late to attend your retirement celebration! Best of luck! You deserve a happy retirement! Always relaxing to be in your barber shop. Madaline Reddy

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