Ernie Lind, who ran Ernie's Barber Shop in Glendale for more than 60 years, died Oct. 5 in his Glendale home, surrounded by family. He was 88.
Lind was born in Lodi and later moved to Los Angeles, where his brother was working as a barber in the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel. Inspired by his brother, Lind asked his father if he could attend barber school and, at 18, began working at a shop in Glendale.
In 1955, Lind opened his own barber shop across the street from where he previously worked at the recommendation of a satisfied customer, who provided some financial help.
Ernie's son, Rick, spent most of his youth in the shop before pursuing a career as a chiropractor. Rick Lind said his father used his passion for sports and close-up magic to grow his loyal customer base.
Ernie Lind created several local sports teams and, after practices or games, he would invite team members over to his shop for a haircut.
Patrons of the barber shop were often treated to close-up magic tricks in addition to a haircut. According to Rick Lind, a close family friend also happened to be a successful Las Vegas magician and taught Ernie Lind many sleight-of-hand tricks.
"He'd like to screw with people, too," Rick Lind said. "He'd walk up to somebody he didn't know in a restaurant, strike up a conversation, then pull out $1 bills and turn them into $100 bills. He'd finish by asking them to come by for a haircut."
Rick Lind said wherever he traveled with his father a customer would recognize him and say hello.
After more than 60 years and with failing health, Ernie Lind decided to step away from cutting hair and last month left the shop in the hands of his grandson, Zach Lind, but not before helping his final customer.
"I was in the shop, and my dad was cutting some guy's hair and [he] says to me, 'This is my last haircut. I'm done. I'm tapping out,'" Rick Lind said last month. "Then I tell him he can't quit on this guy. It's got to be your first customer. It's gotta be me."
Rick Lind said that although retired, his father still considered himself "the best barber ever" and was leaving the shop to the second best barber.
Ernie Lind told the News-Press that he would like his grandson to run the barber shop just the way he did for decades.
"I'm sure that's what [Zach] will do," Ernie Lind said.