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Midwest City barber wants pole policy

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Are Oklahoma barbers getting the shaft? According to a recent story, a Midwest City lawmaker thinks so. He wants to pass a law banning the use of the barber pole by anyone but state-licensed barbers.

That's right. According to a recent story in the Tulsa World, Rep. Gary Banz, R-Midwest City, wants to outlaw the red and white pole being displayed by interlopers who perhaps cut into the business of legitimate barbers.

Has there been a sudden rash of drive-by shavings? A string of liquor-store sideburn trimmings?

Well, not exactly, according to the story. The idea came from Banz's longtime barber, Leroy Tucker, who has been giving Banz a natty trim for more than 20 years.

According to Tucker, who is also head of the Oklahoma Barber Advisory Board, said he reportedly scolded a Muskogee business to have them lose a pole a few years back.

"I asked the person running the business to take down a pole because it was misleading the public," he said. "It was a gentleman's agreement, and he took it down."

Not exactly a matter of dire urgency, perhaps. But then, remember that this guy holds sharp tools next to the legislator's skin on a regular basis. Perhaps the urgency is of a different stripe.

The proposed law, House Bill 1047, does read more poetically than most. It notes the long history of the barber pole as a place where medieval types would go for a typical bleeding.

"Due to the services that they rendered and especially to the royalty, the barber-surgeons were the most respected and protected men living. They held this respect for thousands of years," the bill states. "During their practice of surgery, which consisted only of bloodletting or bleeding the disease, a white cloth was used. They would rinse this out leaving bloodstains, hang it in the doorway of their business to dry: thus, the origin of our present day barber pole. As the years passed by the hundreds, this original badge has been changed to the present, attractive glass red and white emblem which represents professional grooming service."

Well, now "¦ ain't that special? Special enough that Banz wants polecats who have the shear audacity to misuse the symbol to be fined: a warning for the first offense, but $500-$1000 thereafter.

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