Franklin-For years, the old familiar barber-pole was the hallmark of small-town life. The blue and red stripes spiraling up and down the white pole were synonymous with small town and small talk. The barber shop was the neighborhood establishment where you would go to get the local news and gossip about anything that might be going on in town. Now, with the rapidly changing pace of life, population booms and shifts and the introduction of larger chain businesses, the small-town barber shop is a disappearing landmark. Becoming nothing more than a ghost in a town, the loss of the historical barber shop threatens a great loss to the history of a town itself. Barber shops, such as Franklin Borough's Postas Barber Shop on Rutherford Avenue near its intersection with Main Street, have been family run and operated for generations, seeing towns change from small tight-knit communities with a single chief industry to larger commercial areas. John Postas, the current owner of Postas Barber Shop, inherited the shop from his grandfather in 1994. Prior to taking over, Postas cut hair with his grandfather for about a year. The shop was first opened in the 1920's, and in those days would stay open until 10 or 11 p.m. to accommodate the third-shift miners in the Franklin mines. But miners weren't the only clientele to frequent Postas Barber Shop. One regular visitor was New York Yankee's pitcher and Augusta native Russ Van Atta, who pitched for the Yankees from 1933-35 and died in 1986 in Andover. Van Atta's son still gets his own hair cut at Postas. When asked why he went into the business of cutting hair, Postas says, "I saw an opportunity to own my own business, to be able to set my own hours, and I like being around people." With Route 23 bringing ever more newcomers to Sussex County and Franklin, Postas has gotten to see more people. "Its gone from a small-town to what it is now," he says. "It's good and bad, the more people, the more business, but you kind of lose that small-town atmosphere that it had when I was growing up." The shop itself hasn't changed much. "Everything in the shop is original and working
even the cash register," says Postas, pointing out the antique, red leather barber chairs and old photos on the wall. "We still get a few of the old timers that are left in town, that haven't passed away, that either myself or my grandfather are probably the only people that ever cut their hair
it's kind of nice." If he ever has children of his own, Postas would like to keep the barber shop the small family business that it has been for three generations.