Sunday, April 19, 2009

Honoring Tony The Barber

This week, Narragansett Bay lost a legend and a hero. At 95 years old, Tony Giardino, "Tony The Barber" passed away. Tony gave me my first haircut, and also cut my father's hair, my grandfather's hair, and my son's hair. This picture is of me, Tony, and William Torgan just before his first haircut in 2007.

Tony was my father's friend and one of his first patients when he began his medical practice in Providence in the early 1960's. An avid fisherman, he introduced my dad to fishing on Narragansett Bay, and they fished together for many years. In many ways, for passing his great knowledge and enthusiasm to dad, I credit Tony for my life's passion and career in the environment and working for Narragansett Bay.

Tony was an environmentalist and conservationist long before those things became fashionable. He had an elegant manner and a great sense of humor right up until the end of his storied life. He fished the Bay religiously every Wednesday and Sunday after church. At every haircut, we'd talk about the Bay and share fish stories.

Tony had a million great one-liners, some funny, some wise, and I find myself quoting him often.

On dressing for the boat, it was "If you don't take it with you, you can't put it on."

On my receding hairline, it was "May it be the worst problem you ever face in your life."

On the birth of my son, the first Torgan boy since me, it was "John, you have only now begun to live."

Farewell, Tony. Your spirit lives on through Narragansett Bay and all of us you've touched forever.

1 comment:

  1. Dennis Cohen4:57 PM

    Thank you for your tribute to Tony, who was my Tony the Barber too. Your photo with Tony along with your son could easily have hundreds of other faces subsituted standing with him, all with equal smiles and warmth to say nothing of your well shorn heads.
    Although I have other stories about this fine man, he offered me an inspiring legacy... even at 90+ years old, he had an unshakable hand, for which I always had confidence even millimeters away from my ear with his straight razor.