John’s Dad, Mark here. John went for another haircut yesterday, something he enjoys doing, so I figure we should share a little about John’s experience. Getting a haircut is a simple act, an everyday occasion, but it can also be a great pleasure in life.
Haircuts at Astor Place Hairstylist: A Family Tradition
Since John has been three years old, only one person has cut his hair: Regina at Astor Place Hairstylists. You might say it's a family tradition to get our haircut at Astor Place, a funky joint in Greenwich Village that opened in 1947 and has catered to the beats, hippies, punks, sports stars, celebrities, politicians and the denizens of New York City. Today, it is a basement refuge where over 40 hairstylists and customers come from all over the world. There is a famous sign that displays all the languages they speak and “a little English.”
The walls are covered with the paintings of Big Mike, Mike Saviello, who presides over what he calls “The United Nations of Haircutters”
Starting a Family Tradition
I first wandered into Astor Place in the late 80s when Carol and I lived near 14th Street. That was before we had our sons and I would spend my Saturday mornings wandering through bookstores and record shops (remember records?) in the East Village. I started with Sylvia, who left shortly thereafter and then moved on to Kosta, a stately Greek gentleman with few words and quick scissors. Kosta would cut my hair and then our oldest Patrick’s hair and then our next guy Jamie’s hair and he became the first person to cut John's hair.
John Did Not Like Those First Haircuts
John takes great pleasure in getting his haircut now, but that’s now how it began. Many parents will remember those early haircuts with their children as a terrible experience. John hated to have his hair cut and he expressed that fear in every way possible. I would sit in the chair and hold him in my arms and he would twist and writhe, strong as a bull, trying to escape. Kosta remained calm throughout and somehow got the job done. We would cut his hair as short as possible to minimize the ordeals.
In the late 1990s, Kosta went home to Greece and we turned to Regina. We made regular family trips into the City to see Regina. John’s older brothers would experiment with crazy haircuts: Mohawks, dyed hair and Patrick shaved some images into his hair: a Yankee logo and “Go Jets.” My bride was never happy about those wild styles, but they were young and we figured we would let them have control of their hair and how they looked. What did it matter in the fifth grade?
Patrick and Jamie have grown, moved out and now lead their adult lives, but they still return to Regina. Carol, John and I still make our regular journeys to see her and have Regina take a mess of a head and turn it into something presentable.
Here are before and after pictures:
We Love Regina
Regina is a Russian émigré who came here at age 22 from Leningrad. She’s established herself as a barber, raised a family and has carved out a good life in Brooklyn. She’s proud of the life she has made for herself and her daughters.
Regina and John share a special bond. She keeps a stack of his John’s Crazy Socks business cards that she hands out to customers. She loves following him on Instagram. She gives him tips about caring for his hair and asks him to come for a quick trim before he goes on TV. During the pandemic, she even came to our home to cut John’s hair.
From time to time, John will joke and ask for a Mohawk or to dye his hair blue and Regina will remind him that him that has to look like the logo for his business, John’s Crazy Socks.
In the end, the haircuts are like the socks at John’s Crazy Socks. Both are every day, run of the mill objects and events, yet we can invest meaning in them and they become special. John loves getting his hair cut and we are grateful for Regina. We are so much better off because of that relationship.
About John’s Crazy Socks
John’s Crazy Socks was inspired by John Lee Cronin, a young man with Down syndrome, and his love of colorful and fun socks—what he calls his “crazy socks.” He and his father, Mark X. Cronin, started the company as a social enterprise with a mission of Spreading Happiness™. With more than 4,000 socks, John’s Crazy Socks is now the world’s largest sock store. More than half their employees have a differing ability, and their Giving Back program has raised over $650,000 for charity partners like the Special Olympics, the National Down Syndrome Society, and the Autism Society of America. Most of all, we are Spreading Happiness™.
For more information about John’s Crazy Socks, visit our webpage, Facebook page, Instagram account, TikTok or YouTube channel. You can also contact us at 631-760-5625 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.