Following other family members in the profession, Avery Normandin, 19, started work as a barber earlier this summer at the Park Avenue Salon.
His grandfather is Rich Normandin, owner of the Continental Barber and Style Shop.
“I went to barber school in 1954, so I’ve been barbering for 55 years,” Rich Normandin said.
Rich stopped by Park Avenue recently for a trim, but Avery wasn’t worried about Rich critiquing his work.
“I talk to him quite a bit. He helps me out,” Avery said about cutting Rich’s hair. “He talks to me, gives me tips here and there.”
Avery graduated from Thomas More Prep-Marian High School in 2018, and had decided to become a barber by his junior year.
“I like being around him and learning stuff,” Avery said of Rich, but Avery wasn’t thinking of following in Rich’s footsteps when he decided to be a barber.
Avery likes cutting hair.
“I want to be able to do everything, but right now I’m trying to perfect (cutting) men’s hair. I do like doing the facial shaves, having to trim around the face.”
The grandfather and grandson went to different barber schools. Rich went to Old Town Barber School, and Avery went to the newer Paul Mitchell, both in Wichita.
“It benefited me more going to school there,” Avery said.
Though he went to a newer school, Avery is eager to learn from Rich.
“He’s been to the shop before, and we went through some things,” Rich said.
Avery works at Park Avenue across the street from Fort Hays State University, rather than with his grandfather. Avery started getting his haircuts there in high school because he liked the atmosphere.
So when it was time for him to look for a place to work, he “talked to my family, and it (Park Avenue) was a better place to come and get my start.”
Owned by Jessica Fabrizius, the shop has three barbers and two stylists.
During the school year “we have a lot of Fort Hays guys coming in, but we get everybody,” Fabrizius said.
Rich started his career in a shop across the street from the post office on Fort Street and cut his share of FHSU students’ hair.
In those days students came into the shop carrying their ties. They put their tie and a blazer back on after getting a haircut, and before going to campus, he said.
That shop also had a shoeshine chair, and the students often would get their shoes shined too, before they left. Hairstyles have changed during Rich’s career, too.
“It’s all different. We went through a lot too. When we started, about eight out of ten haircuts were flattops. That’s that era, the ’60s,” Rich said.
Besides his grandpa, Avery has a great-grandpa and great-great grandpa on his grandmother, Mallone Normandin’s side of the family, who also plied the trade. Barber school wasn’t a requirement when Roch Lanoue, Avery’s great-great-grandfather, wanted to be a barber in the early 1900s. He taught himself by giving free haircuts on the street in Ohio City, Colo.
After that he moved to Concordia and opened his own shop. Later Lanoue moved to Aurora and opened another shop.
Adrian Brin, Roch’s son-in-law and Avery’s great-grandfather, cut hair with Roch for a while in the 1930s, but his heart was in farming and carpentry. Brin moved his wife and family back to Damar where he was born.