I'm A Story Teller

writing, seeing, living


You lose your turn

If You Leave You Lose Your Turn

Black and white film telling this story during World War Two

The war in Poland was in full force. Hitler’s army had invaded Poland.

In a small village outside the city of Krakow, lived a barber with his wife who also was a hair stylist.  They have two children. Josef age six and Michael who is one and half.

The war  had changed quickly to worse  Sonia, the barber’s wife died of starvation from the war. Leaving the barber to take care of his two children while running from Hitlers army.

Camera cuts to:

A Nazi soldier is punching the barber in the eye for stealing potato peels from the garbage. The barber is caring a violin case and with the violin he also has barber tools.  The solder screams at the Jewish barber who is holding a violin. He says to the barber. Play that violin and afterwards give me a haircut or I’ll shoot you. 

The Jewish man plays the violin. Almost makes the violin sound so beautiful like a woman singing. The Nazi stops him from playing and demands a haircut from the Jewish man. That haircut saved his life. 

Film switches to color


Early in the morning and violin music is coming from an old house.

5827 Hobart Street, A big old house with a tall and a small tree growing in front the yard. Fall leaves are coving the walk way to the house. The porch swing that hangs on chains slightly moving from the warm fall wind. The front door has many locks on it.  We hear the door locks turning. Click, Click Click. Unlatching the door locks. The door opens a little old man wearing a checkered hat and a big overcoat.  He wears long grey sideburns and an overcoat. He is carrying a violin case. Then locks the door and kisses a small Jewish metal container that’s mounted on the door for good luck and says a little prayer. The old man’s name is Harry, some of his friends call him Handsome Harry or Harry the barber. Harry is owner Harry’s Barber Shop which is a few blocks from his home.

Both of Harry’s children are grown up now and moved away. Josef went to Maine in the East Coast to watch the sun come up over the ocean. ( visual ) Josef is standing butt naked facing the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. Michael Harry’s younger son moved to California to follow the ever lasting sunset in the Pacific Ocean. ( visual ) Also standing butt naked looking at the sun at a nude beach. Harry’s second wife Sara had passed away a few years back, leaving Harry by himself. Harry is in his early eighties. Alone but loves going to his barbershop to talk with his friends. Harry cut a few customers hair who have been coming to his shop for years. Sometime he would take out his violin bow ( visual ) and pretend to play it over a customers hair as if he is playing the violin. 

One morning, Harry is walking down Murray Avenue passing many stores. Some vegetables and fruits markets, Chinese restaurant, butcher shops ( visual of kids asking if the Bucher sold kosher ham ) and a bakeries that smelled delicious, where he would go in and buy day old bread to feed the pigeons. Everyone pretty much knew every one in the Jewish community. Rabbis, locals also college students from Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh are some of Harry’s customers. 

“Handsome Harry,” lives in a Jewish community named Squirrel Hill most likely named after after squirrels that gathered acorns and sometimes threw them at the people below their trees they nested in. Squirrel Hill is mostly populated by Immigrants from Europe. They came to America after World War 2 to start a new life. 

Butcher shops, bakeries, bagel shops and pizza parlors, restaurant of all kinds are doing well. Barber shops, beauty parlors, shoe repair and news stands, ice cream stores and lots of ladies  boutiques. Some old coin stores and a big supermarket named Giant Eagle Kids called it Giant Pigeon. which was close to the old Manor Movie Theater that showed my favorite scary movie “Creature from the Black Lagoon”. As a kid I must have walked Murray Ave at least a thousand times. Wish I had a dime for every time I waled up and down Murray Ave, I’d be rich. Squirrel Hill even had a hippie smoke shop with black light posters and a few hippie stoned kids hanging out rolling zig zag joints. 

Handsome Harry has been cutting hair at his own Harry’s Barber Shop that he bough from Pete who hired Harry when Harry and Sarah and his two boys came to America from Europe back in 1950.  Pete, an Italian immigrant with a pencil mustache cut his own hair (visual of Pete timing his nose hair) was the owner of the barbershop. Pete died of  a heart attack. Harry was able to buy the shop from Pete’s wife. The shop has three barber chairs. Also a Childs barber chair with a wooden horse in front.  ( visual Harry cut their hair saying  if you don’t sit still I’ll  cut it off). A red Coco Cola machine and a pay phone and many paintings that his son Michael the artist who now lives in California made (visual of Michael painting a nude woman).  Above the cash register hung a small sign taped to the mirror next to photos of customers and kids. The sign read. “If you leave you lose your turn”. That sign had a deep meanings to me.

Harry is a survivor of two world wars. He fled Hitler in Poland and when the war broke out. His wife Sonia died from starvation after she gave birth to the now younger son named Michael. Josef the older brother remembers his mother well. Eventually Harry and and his new wife Sara who he met escaping the Nazi rampage and the two boys escaped the terror of the Nazi regime. He met Sara on a train escaping the Nazi blitz and somehow they both were able to come to America along with his two children. 

After 50 years of being married to Sara and raising two boys Sara passed away. His children now grown up and moved away with families of their own.  Harry was alone living in his three story old house playing the violin. His life revolved around the barber shop. Old friends and few customers still visited him at the shop. Harry joked with them and sometimes played the violin for them. The violin was from Europe that Harry carried across half the world. 

One morning as Harry arrived at the door of the barber shop. He found the door slightly open. Someone had broken in. he was sure he locked the door when he left, the old fashion cash register was open. Harry only left a few dollars in the register. That was also gone.

Nick the Shoemaker

Next door to the barber shop worked an elder Italian man with a mustache. His name is Nick. The shop was humming with sounds of belt driven machines that would shine leather and Nick hammering on a metal shoe holder, hammering nails the bottom of his hand made shoes.    

Harry and Nick were friends. They talked about life and shared many stories about how the old days were in Europe. Always cursing at Stalin.  Nick was a very religious person and his wife was young and kind. They have a son who is 15 years old.

Nicks son Brent was young and had growing teenage pains. He did not like school. Dressed like a tough guy. And had an attitude. Brent was a weightlifter and flexed his muscles in the store front windows reflections as he walked by. 

Harry though about who would break into his barber shop.Then realized it was Brent.


After Harry confronts Brent in private about breaking in and taking the money out of the register Brent confesses with fear that his father would find out.

Harry’s mind flashed back to swastika painted on walls during the war. His mind heard sounds of the soldiers marching and bombs exploding. The war was vivid in his mind. 


Harry loved to play the violin, he play old Jewish Polish melodies, He could make that violin sound like a gypsy crying.

Harry picked up the violin and played for Brent. Brent did not want to hear it but he put up with it. Then Harry stopped playing and pointed the bow to Brent and said I want you to learn to play. Brent said I’ll never do that, but Harry insisted on him learning to play or he would tell his dad about the break in. I want you to come every evening after the shoe repair store closes and practice.

 playing, first sounded like a cat was diving, then Brent go a little better. Harry asked Brent to follow his heart when he was playing Soon he played very well. 

A young girl was standing st the front door of the barber shop. Listening to Brent play. She admired the playing and wanted to come inside the barber shop. 

Brent really started to perform  The young girl admired Brent’s playing. A relationship started to develop and Brent kept playing for her.

Harry was happy that he encouraged Brent and help Brent through awkward teenage times.