Oak Park Profiles: Barber Emil Messina Can't Stop Cutting

Emil Messina is my favorite barber ever. He gives a good cut, of course, but he also really listens when customers talk, and he remembers what’s been said. I appreciate that. 

Though it didn’t make the cut, Emil also told me about his days as a barber surgeon in Sicily. Barber surgeons used a cup-like mechanism to draw blood from the backs of patients. This practice was advertised by the blood red strips on the traditional barber pole. The belief since the medieval era was that letting blood rebalanced the “humors” in the body and could “cure” the common cold and other complaints. When Emil came to the US, he discontinued his surgical practice.


Emil has been cutting hair since he was 12. His family – grandfather, father, brothers –all barbers. He’s been cutting hair for something like 73 years, which may be a Guinness record.




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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of LTHForum.com, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...