COMING OF AGE: Life in Fort Hunt

Barber Cut and Shave

Stories by Fredrick Kunkle, Washington Post Staff Writer | Photos by Carol Guzy - The Washington Post
AUDIO SLIDESHOW: Barber Shave
David Luftig, 91, gets a haircut at the neighborhood barbershop. Arthur Black, 63, a manager of the barbershop, said Luftig also gets something younger generations have never heard of: a barber shave with a straight razor. (Photo by Carol Guzy - The Washington Post)

About 11:35 a.m. on a weekday, the door swings open at the Hollin Hall Barber Shop and David Luftig makes a beeline for an empty barber's chairs before the barber can invite him to sit.

Introductions are not necessary: Arthur Black, the manager, has been working here 40 years; Luftig, 91, is a regular. His hair is thinner and whiter than when he first started coming 15 years ago.

Luftig, a former bookkeeper for Murray's Steaks, has lived in Fort Hunt for about 50 years. The son of a grocer, he did well enough to be able to show his wife some of the world, traveling to India, Africa and South America.

What, Black asks at the barbershop, is the secret to longevity?

"Clean living," Luftig says. "A lovely wife."

Then he reclines way, way back in the chair for a vanishing luxury: a hot towel and shave.

So many things have fallen away, one by one, at his age. Some have been painful. Some he shrugs off.

His only children, two daughters, died about 10 years ago. He is reluctant to talk about them. even years ago, his wife, Anita, also died. She was 80.

This January Luftig gave up playing handball twice a week at at the Jewish Community Center in Montgomery County. "I told them it was long enough," he said.

Why?

"Age. Couldn't get to the ball," Luftig says. "Right now, it's a little difficult for me because I've just given up driving."

Luckily, he said, he got a ride with one of his four grandsons, Robert Moore, 36, who now lives with him.

The son of a grocer, Luftig got out of high school at the age of 16. He made a living as a bookkeeper and earned a degree in finance from New York University after twenty years of night school. He did well enough to be able to show his wife some of the world, and they traveled to India, Africa and South America. He worked for the same firm for more than 40 years, was married for about as long.

In an interview at his home later, Luftig said he is at peace with himself, content to have seen other parts of the world, happy to have had a prosperous career, glad that his former secretary became his wife for so many happy years, happy to have made it this far in time and space from the streets of Brooklyn.

"Look, I'm 91 1/2. I've had my share of the world," he says.

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