GATES, N.Y. (WROC) — When Ralph Lippa graduated high school, the Korean War was still ongoing. Lippa was concerned about being drafted, so he decided to just sign up and get it over with, joining the Navy. His job — or rating — was a ship’s shopkeeper on USS Bexar (APA 237- LPA 237).
“And they said — ‘barber wanted’. So I put in that I was a barber, but I wasn’t,” said Lippa.
He got the job, even though he couldn’t cut his hair at all. Some were patient with him — others weren’t.
“The white hats [were] but the officers [were not]. They thought they were going to get a professional haircut — and I wasn’t,” said Lipps.
As any veteran can tell you, regulation haircuts mean a lot in the military. Having the wrong haircut could land you in trouble with write-ups or extra duties. For Lippa, the pressure was on.
“I was worried about getting tossed over the side,” he said.
But the Navy kept him on, and he succeeded. After leaving the service, he kept on cutting. There was a bit of a lag in business, though.
“Well, the Beatles, The Beatles killed us when I got out,” he said.
After the long hair trends stopped, business picked up and he’s got tens of thousands of heads of hair cut, easily. He now rents a chair at Jurs Barbershop in Gates.
“It’s great, he’s like a staple in the barbershop,” said owner John Jurs.
He says Ralph often outpaces the younger staff. Larry Linville is an Army veteran and says having that camaraderie with Ralph is important. “Absolutely. It’s kind of like siblings: We can pick on each other but no one else can pick on either of us,” said Linville.
From the workers to the customers, everyone respects Ralph– and his service to our nation.
“They all treat me good. I don’t flaunt it, but everybody’s good with me here,” said Lippa.
Jurs Barbershop has two other locations in the area: In the City of Rochester and in Greece.