Guest Hound Phil Bazer

Welcome to Hound Day, Phil

By Jeff Salter

I have long wanted to share with y’all the writings of my friend Phil Bazar. We grew up in the same area (St. Tammany Parish, LA), went to the same high school (though a few years apart), he currently lives in my old hometown (Covington LA), and we share some of the same collecting interests. Phil is also married to the sister of one of my best friends in high school.

I first became aware that Phil was also a talented writer as I stumbled upon his short (Facebook) pieces, which I like to call vignettes — I don’t know what Phil calls them.

Originally I had hoped to have a short interview section here today, but Phil got busy again and family is always a priority for him. [Rightly so.] Perhaps we can persuade Phil to return to 4F1H and share more biographical detail (along with another vignette).

From what I know of Phil, his “special” specialty is woodworking. If he can see something and handle it… he can craft one just like it. I’ve seen his duck decoys (yes they used to be carved) and other types of models and statues. But here’s Phil himself, presumably showing off his CULINARY skills.

Bazer-Phil

Phil manifests an affectionate reverence for the talented-but-unheralded old-timers who helped build this great country… or who helped make it greater. Some of Phil’s most powerful vignettes dealt with individuals he knew growing up… and I still hope I can persuade him to locate some of those for me to reprint here.

Below is one of Phil’s vignettes. Notice, how (when Phil begins describing the barber) that you can picture yourself in that scene.

Life is Like a Puzzle Box
[Jeff’s Title]
By Phil Bazer

This is a puzzle box that I made years ago to keep my straight razor in. I saw a picture of one that was for sale. They wanted too much for it so I made my own. They theory was that small children would not be able to figure it out. I doubt that.

Adults, on the other hand, seem to have the most problem — especially the ones that I hand the box to. I have had to take it away from some who would not stop short of breaking the box to get it open.

puzzle-box-2

A puzzle box

puzzle-box-1

Once opened, you can see the razor inside

I would shave with a straight razor occasionally just to keep in practice and I like to sharpen things — razors, kitchen knives, especially carving knives, pocket knives, chisels, etc. I have about a dozen sharpening stones and hones. I digress.

Back to razors, the reason that I don’t shave with straight razors anymore is that since I had my carotid artery cleaned and serviced, my throat is numb on the left side. I am afraid that I may cut my throat since I can’t feel what I’m doing.

At one time I had about a hundred Pre-1900 razors. I still have about 50. I sell them on eBay now. The ones from the 1700’s are the easiest to sell. The Civil War era ones — not so easy. I have a bunch of old New Orleans marked razors but there is no interest in them at all.

The old barbers are fun to talk to about shaving, back before the board of health stopped the practice. I can remember my grandpa going to Loreauville every day to get a shave. It only cost a quarter or maybe 50 cents. The barbershop was across from the Post Office and just down the street from grandpa’s sister’s cafe, Aunt Tee’s. I loved making that trip as a kid with grandpa in his old Studebaker pickup truck. I met a retired barber from Ville Platte who loved to handle my razors and talk about shaving. My friend (who shared a table with me at the gun show) and I called him, The Barber from Seville Platt.

I’m sure that this barber dreamed in Cajun French. He was a lot of fun! He explained that some faces were difficult to shave. You had to tell them to put their tongue in certain spots to iron out pockets that were hard to shave. Barbers had to have the gift of gab, but this man had a double dose of that gift. It is sad that few are interested in these things that were so much a part of every day life, way back when.

Question:

Do you enjoy collecting certain items? Are you a creative wood-worker? Have you known any barber of that type Phil describes here? Leave a comment and let us know.

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About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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12 Responses to Guest Hound Phil Bazer

  1. jbrayweber says:

    I love reading little tales about people and their experiences long ago. So nostalgic!
    Can’t say I know any barbers (I just don’t need to have my face shaved that often. haha) and I’m not a woodworker. Some might say I collect skulls since I have a lot of them adorning my home and clothes, tastefully of course. It’s not something I set out to do. It just sort of happened. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      Jenn, it’s funny how we start collecting things. I had one British bayonet that I bought for a dollar when I was a kid… and that was my complete collection of bayonets until I was in my fifties and discovered eBay.
      Some collections happen by MISTAKE. I knew a lady whose family started giving her little cow figurines … for no particular reason that she could discern (except that they’d seen ONE cow figure somewhere in her house at some point). Guess they assumed she wanted to add on to it. Over the years, she acquired quite a few.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jbrayweber says:

        Bayonets are awesome, Jeff! I’d like to own one or two. My MIL tried to start me a collection of angels and cats. Those are things SHE likes to collect. Not me. All I see are dust collectors. LOL!

        Liked by 1 person

      • jeff7salter says:

        exactly. Some folks (kind-hearted, but mis-guided) tend to PUSH collection of certain things onto other people… because “you’ll just love these.”

        Like

  2. I do hope Phil can join us sometime, Jeff, but this was unique and fun!
    I actually had gotten into quite a bit of woodworking when I was in Colorado; I think my work with Scouting started it up.I was getting into it and planning on putting some real tools into a garage workshop, (with advice from a woodworking neighbor), but we moved out here to KY and much of life changed.
    As for odd-shaped faces, my mother always found Kirk Douglas to be very handsome, but was distracted by trying to figure out how he shaved that distinctive, deep, round cleft in his chin!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Phil Bazer says:

    Well, I’m home now. Some mornings are just crazier than others. I never thought about working with wood until I picked up a copy of the 1st edition of, Fine Woodworking magazine in 1978. I was stunned! These wood workers made things that took my breath away. At the time I was working as a machinist in Eureka California and saw that wood was a beautiful, warm, forgiving material. Steel is hard and cold, it is not colorful, if you make a mistake, it’s scrap! Repairs in wood can actually add to the charm. George Nakashima was proof to that. I was hooked!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      Glad you got back to a place with a computer, Phil.
      Yes, though wood is far more forgiving than iron/steel… it’s still a stern taskmaster for amateurs like myself. I grew up with scarcely any tools around the house other than a hammer and a handsaw… so I never saw or touched (much less learned the uses of) the modern wood-working tools. Tried whittling with a pocketknife, but realized all I could do was sharpen sticks. LOL.
      As I’ve grown older and acquired several bayonets and military knives with rotted handled or no handles, I fancied I could set up a little “shop” in my garage and build the scales necessary to re-handle them. I even acquired a lot of the wood stock that I figured I’d need. Alas, my energies took me a different direction — the keyboard — and I have yet to launch more than a few scattered projects.

      Like

  4. Patricia Kiyono says:

    What fun! I can see why you two get along. Love the nostalgic tone of his vignettes. To answer your questions, I guess I collect bells – they don’t take up too much room. I can’t say I’m a wood worker – my experience with wood is limited to painting on it. And yes, I remember the barbers that my dad used to visit once a week. I was actually more comfortable there than I was waiting for my mom at the beauty parlor!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      those old style barber shops were typically gathering places for regular customers (and other friends) to convene even when they didn’t need a cut or a shave. Just a place to meet, often daily, and shoot the breeze… hang out.

      Like

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