Norman Millette, Senior Citizens Barber Shop

  • Norman Millette has been cutting hair in the same Congress Street location since 1959.

How many haircuts do you think you’ve given?
Phew.  I can’t count that high. A lot. 

What’s special about this location?

There’s a lot of business, between the hospitals and the residential areas, so I’ve stayed here. There’s good clientele. We’ve got doctors, lawyers, producers, immigrants. You name it.

Who are you favorite customers?
Anyone, as long as they behave.

How did your shop get its name?

The yellow pages called up every year asking if you want to make any changes to your listing. I suggested adding something to show my discounts for senior citizens. Everything I suggested, they wouldn’t print. Back then it was called Longfellow Barber Shop. So then the woman asked me to confirm the name of the shop, and I said, “Senior Citizens Barber Shop.” “When did the name change?” she asked.  And I replied, “Three seconds ago.”

You were young then. What made you decide to cater to seniors? 

Well, a lot of people with long hair didn’t want to cut their hair in the 1970s. After we changed the name, business picked right up. Now, I’d say about 70 percent is younger people. Teenagers up to people in their 40s.

Tell me about the types of haircuts you do and the trends you’ve seen. 

There were the flat tops. And then the Elvis Presley’s and the duck’s tails, when you comb it in the back. And then the regular haircuts. And the mohawks. You know, we always get those in the spring. I don’t know why. I had one just three weeks ago. The worst type of haircut is when they want lines in the sides. I can do those, but you can’t change your mind with them.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Portland?

I used to do a lot of sea kayaking. I haven’t done that for six or seven years. I started in 1968.  When I first went out into the ocean, someone wanted to tow me in. “Where’re ya going? Out in the ocean? You’ll never come back!” they’d say. They looked at me in my kayak like I was from outer space. Now I’ll do a little fishing. I have a camper up north, and I like to go there. Or I like to take the ferry out to the islands.

Tell me about being a barber and a parent.

I have two children, Holly and Mary Lou. When they were around ten or eleven, they’d want to spend the day here. They thought it was fun. They’d be the cashiers. I would tell my wife, “I should have them here every day. They make more money than I do!” The customers would say, “Oh, what a nice little girl, here’s a dollar for you.” Both of them ended up working for the architect upstairs. They were into drafting.

Who cuts your hair?

I have friend who’s an old barber. I go see him and he cuts my hair and I cut his hair.


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