In a note to Bexley Historical Society member, Barbara Babbitt-Hysell, Betty and Charlie wrote about the area near the Cassady Avenue Railroad tracks.

Your note regarding the Cassady/Penn RR waiting problem focused my mind on having to wait at the same spot, but on my bicycle. But back a block or so, before the tracks, on the left was Tavernel. As I remember, the Tavernel was a eating and swimming club, which made the wait a little less bad. It was a membership club, and I have no idea as to how we became members – we certainly couldn’t afford it.

But once (across the tracks), you were on 5th Avenue… Turning right on 5th Avenue, about a quarter mile on the left, was Roberts Coal Company. Their office was a shanty that was converted to a barber shop. (This was in the depression where unemployment reached 25% and ran from 1929 to 1941.)

But back to my story, the haircut at the converted coal office cost 2 bits … for that, in addition to the haircut, you also got a hot towel and a shot of whisky.

The history of the “bit” goes back in history to being a coin where 8 bits equaled a Spanish Peso, which reveals the extent of the Spanish influence from our early days. And it is still being used today. Hence a bit was and is 12 1/2 cents, and 2 bits equaled a quarter. Now isn’t that a neat “bit” of information?

I did not partake of the barber shop “add-ons” … generally assigning my right to one of the waiting customers. Also, I didn’t want to be arrested for PUI – Pedaling Under the Influence.

Originally published in Historical Herald, November 2011

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