Hampton barber still 'knows what to do' after 55 years
After a half-century of cutting men's hair, Win Mahle can't say why he became a barber.
“I'm still trying to figure out what the future is … other than working long days and not making a lot of money,” said Mahle, 73, the wry, soft-spoken and easy-going owner of Win's Barber Shop in Bardonner Square on Route 8 in Hampton.
A 1959 graduate of Richland High School, Mahle first worked as a teenager in a gas station near Tom Henry Chevrolet in the Bakerstown section of Richland.
“Something made me decide to go to barber school. I don't know what it was,” said Mahle, a graduate of the former Pittsburgh Barber School on the North Side of Pittsburgh.
“I'm working here until a good fast food job opens,” reads a sign behind the counter at Win's Barber Shop, where a haircut still costs $15.
Now “semi-retired” on a four-day work week, Mahle will begin his 55th year of cutting hair and trimming beards in September.
“The majority of my customers don't know what they want,” he said “They leave it up to me.”
Mahle still claims more than 200 regular customers.
“I just like the way he cuts hair,” said Jerry Haas, 78, of West Deer. “He just knows what to do.”
Haas, who has a summer home in Montana, snapped the photo of a grizzly bear that hangs on one wall of Win's Barber Shop. Framed photos of classic cars and vintage trucks — some owned by Mahle's customers — also decorate the shop's walls, along with a photo of the Beatles, circa 1964.
Oldies also accompany every hair cut, because Mahle keeps his shop's radio tuned to WJAS 1320.
“I'm probably known for being the gentlest barber around,” Mahle said when asked why his customers keep coming.
Jim Cain, 71, of Hampton, stops in every two weeks for a touch-up on his flattop.
“He has a nice group of people going in there. … It's fun,” Cain said about Mahle's barber shop. “You get to know the regulars.
“There's a guy that comes all the way from Greensburg,” Cain said. “He has one of the old-style haircuts. It's flat on top, but the sides are long, and it goes back… a duck tail or something like that?
Cain, a metal fabricator, first visited Win's Barber Shop more than 30 years ago with his two young sons.
“I can remember whenever he would cut kids' hair,” Cain said. “He'd use a normal chair. But he would put a board across the arm rests, and set the kid on there. Most of the time, the kids were really good.”
Mahle, son of the late Ira and Florence Mahle, has three children.
Named after his father, Win Mahle actually is Ira Winfield Mahle Jr.
“Very few kids I went to school with knew that my real name was Ira,” said Mahle, who proudly displays his dad's photo in his barber shop.
His father's photo appears in a framed copy of an old newspaper ad for the former Harmony Short Line. The ad features photos of the bus line's most experienced and safest drivers, including Ira W. Mahle Sr.
Mahle Jr,, a fan of sprint cars and dirt tracks, used to make the trophies presented to victors of races at one of his favorite hangouts: Lernerville Speedway in Butler County.
Why doesn't he retire after 54 years as a barber?
“The main thing is that I forgot to save my money when I was young,” Mahle said. “I don't mind working, but if I'd win the big lottery, I would quit immediately.”
Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McCandless library offers chance to ‘Meet Our Local Authors’
- ‘A Chorus Line’ features Pine-Richland flavor
- Marshall Mangler features running, bike races on North Park trails
- Former German leader discusses ISIS with North Hills, North Allegheny students
- North Hills assistant superintendents get raises with extended contracts
- Gala in Hampton to raise money for scholarship program