Imagination Cuts changed Bayonne, one haircut at a time

typewriter

To the Editor:

Just about every day you can read about the changes happening in and around my old hometown, Bayonne. The passing of time has finally thrust a level of evolution on everyone who knows and loves this town that up till now has been an insulated peninsula. Whether you are a “better or worse” believer is irrelevant; time has, all by itself, stripped away many of the trappings of my youth growing up on those beloved streets. I can remember my world being just a few blocks around my house and school with all those sights and sounds, and the people, most of all. Many stores have come and gone but most of us who were there in the 60’s and 70’s can still see Broadway the way it was and most likely recite the names of nearly every single store.

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This letter isn’t about nostalgia, or some kind of reflective walk down memory lane. It is about recognizing one business that was truly transitional for the town, and for its time, and won’t easily be forgotten as it fades into our collective memories. Imagination Cuts wasn’t like anything that long haired, punk kids like me had ever seen in Bayonne. This was at a time when the barber shop was a place your dad went to, where shoulder length hair only existed to be chopped into a nice boy’s haircut. Imagination Cuts wasn’t a place, it was more like an event, where the surroundings, the conversation, and the hours long wait forced you to “gear up” to get your haircut. The bizarre mystique the shop had in its original basement location was so misunderstood that I believe many were intimidated by the place. I can only describe it as ghetto hip and no frills. I mean, it was just a haircut after all.

After 45 plus years, and three different locations, Imagination Cuts will be calling it a career later this year. Sonny Antinora has probably cut thousands of heads in that town, had a million conversations and hasn’t changed very much from when I met him when I was a 16 year old kid. The mystique of the shop may have worn off, but the innovation his business represented during its time can’t be denied. Small shops like these, all over the country changed how people thought about this basic service and for a kid coming of age, it was very much needed and appreciated.

So instead of going to your fancy salon, you might just want to stop by and see Sonny one last time before he slides into his well-earned retirement. If you do, you will get a great haircut and you can get to thank someone who changed Bayonne one haircut at a time.

Thanks Sonny.

SAL ESPOSITO