ALAMEDA -- When barber Dick Denton began cutting hair, Dwight Eisenhower was president, Marilyn Monroe was marrying Joe DiMaggio and "Rock Around the Clock" was climbing the charts.
Now 58 years later Denton plans to switch off his clippers and retire, closing a career that made him a Webster Street institution.
"I am 75 years old," Denton said. "My wife and kids have wondered for years when I was going to quit. I finally told them it was time."
The cost of a haircut has jumped from $1.75, the price when Denton decided to follow in his father's footsteps and become a barber. But much has remained the same.
Flat-tops are still popular and plenty of men still want both a shave and a haircut.
"Your customers are like your family," Denton said. "You cut their hair and then you cut their children's hair. It crosses generations."
No appointments are taken at Dick's Barber Shop. Customers are walk-ins only.
There's a stack of Playboy magazines for those who wait and a television with the volume turned low for anyone who does not feel like talking while sitting in the chair.
"It's old school," Jim Reese said as Denton gave him a trim on a recent afternoon. "It's a good basic haircut. He still uses the razor. It's a nice touch."
Reese has been a customer for more than six years. He lives in Danville, but stops into the shop because he often visits Alameda, where he docks his boat.
Dave Ruiz has been coming for
Ruiz served in the U.S. Army and wanted to maintain a military hair style after he was discharged.
"My father came here before me, when he was in the Navy," Ruiz said, settling into the chair.
The Novato resident visits the barber shop at least twice a month, usually during a break from his aerial photography job in Emeryville.
Many of Denton's customers don't tell him how they want their hair cut. Either he already knows from experience, or he can tell simply by looking at their hair style.
"It's something you pick up with time," said Denton, who grew up in Oakland and graduated from barber college in August 1954.
Like all good barbers, Denton does more than cut hair.
The job calls for him to be that special mix of sports expert, comedian and source of national news and neighborhood gossip. It also requires an instinct to know when a customer prefers a comfortable silence.
"You need to be able to walk and talk and make every move count," Denton said with a smile.
Oakland dentist Ronald Iriyama discovered Denton's shop a quarter-century ago, when the Alameda Naval Air Station was open and sailors strolled Webster Street.
"I figured the best place to get a flat-top was a Navy town," Iriyama said. "I was right."
Iriyama still has the flat-top. He now visits the shop every other Thursday.
Denton's last day will be July 28. Robert Talarico, a barber for more than 40 years, is taking over the business.
Denton plans to spend his retirement watching San Francisco Giants games and volunteering with the Lions Club in Pleasant Hill, where he lives. He also hopes to spend time with his three adult children, plus he might do some traveling with Gloria, his wife of 55 years.
Locking the door of his shop that final time will not be easy, Denton said.
"This has been my life," he said. "This place has been my home. I have met so many wonderful people over the years. It's very hard to say goodbye."
His customers also will find it hard when Denton leaves.
"There're very few real barbers out there," Ruiz said. "Good ones are especially hard to find. Truly, I don't know what I am going to do after this."
Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him at Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty/.