Pete the Barber Turns 102
A certain Hingham gentleman used to go to Pete Rando to get his hair cut. As time went by, this gentleman became increasingly bald and eventually just had a ring of hair circling his head. On one occasion when he was sitting in the barber chair, he jokingly said, “I think you should give me a discount on the price of a haircut.” Pete asked, “How do you figure that?” The gentleman replied, “Because I have so little hair.” Pete retorted, “I think I should charge you more.” When the gentleman asked why, Pete replied, “Because I have to look for it!”
Pete was born in this country to Italian immigrants. When he was around 3 years old, his father decided to move the family back to Italy. His father was asthmatic and felt the climate would be better for his health. They lived close to other family members near the Strait of Messina which separates Sicily from mainland Italy. Pete has told his customers that he didn’t like it there at all and regularly badgered his parents to allow him to move back to the United States. Around that time, Mussolini was coming to power and was starting to amass a military force. He had already invaded and occupied Ethiopia, and Pete wanted no part of that.
Finally, when he was around 19, his father relented and gave him some money to return to America. Because he was born here, he had no trouble getting back into the country. Pete had relatives in Hingham and arrived with just $3.00 in his pocket. His uncles ran a barber shop in Hingham, and he worked for them before opening his own shop. He often tells his customers, “Good thing I was born in this country.”
Pete has been working out of his home for several years now. He started with a barber chair in his semi-finished basement before moving the chair up into what would otherwise be his living room at the front of the house. Most customers still call him to make appointments. Recently, one of them arrived for an afternoon appointment to find that the front door, which was usually unlocked, had been locked. No one answered the doorbell, and when the customer called no one answered the phone. He began to worry that Pete had fallen or worse, so he called the Hingham Police and asked if they could check on him.
The next day when the customer called again, Pete’s care provider answered the phone. It turned out Pete had forgotten the appointment and had made a visit to the dog track in Raynham with his son. He goes every week.
Pete turned 102 today. He is a beloved member of the community who has formed a lifetime of friendships in Hingham. In honor of his birthday, the Hingham Police and Hingham Fire Departments joined folks in town in driving by his home in Hingham Center, waving and honking their horns. Pete sat in a lawn chair holding a colorful bunch of balloons smiling and enjoying it all – including the sirens. A beautiful day for a parade and a wonderful reason for one.
“Happy 102nd birthday to Pete! You have been a legend to our downtown,” said Hingham Downtown Executive Director Lynn Barclay.
Happy Birthday, Pete from the Hingham Current.
Kristen Arute can be reached at email@example.com.