AVON – At 92 years old, Frankie Antinore officially stepped down from his barber chair as one of Avon and Caledonia’s most enduring living icons on Saturday.
Frankie spent Saturday afternoon eating pizza and laughing with lifelong friends and family who packed into his little barber shop on West Main Street. He has given first haircuts to generations of Livingston County residents, and everyone had a fond story or two to tell about Frankie.
“We’ve always had a lot of fun here, that’s why I’ve been here so long,” said Frankie. “You see what we get up to? We just make fun of each other and laugh all day. These are great people and they’re why I’ve lasted so long. I am going to miss them.”
Frankie’s decided with his wife of 70 years, Marion, that he will not drive this winter, and since he will not be commuting from their happy home in Caledonia, it is time to close up shop. The two met in the 1940’s picking crops on Livingston County’s farms.
“Frankie was in the service when we met,” said Marion Antinore. “It was summertime, and Frankie had to work
picking crops. That’s the way it worked, you might get into in a different truck every day and they took you to a farm in Avon or Caledonia, somewhere local, and you harvested whatever was there for the day. So I said to myself ‘let’s go do that, it sounds like fun.’ And that’s where we met, picking beans. And we got married in 1945.”
They will enjoy a quiet retirement, since Frankie’s service aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Atlantic during World War II and her career as a travel agent took them all over the world.
“We haven’t been to Japan, Africa, India, or Russia, but pretty much everywhere else,” said Marion. “We’ve been to every state in the U.S. It will be nice to just be home.”
Many of those who stopped by had their hair cut for the first time by Frankie, including Livingston County Court Judge Dennis Cohen, 65, and it seemed that Frankie could recount everyone’s lineage by heart.
“Can you believe I held this guy on my shoulder when he was one year old?” said Frankie. “His dad was Harvey. Harvey was great. He was Caledonia mayor in 1968.”
Frankie’s oldest customer and longtime fishing buddy, Wing Bow, 101, joyfully told stories of their many fishing adventures on the finger lakes. He said Frankie was especially excited by an encounter with a bald eagle, which was extremely uncommon at the time, on Hemlock lake.
“It was the first bald eagle nest in this area of New York State, very rare, something people would come with binoculars to see,” said Bow. “We were fishing towards the south end of the lake and hooked a small brown trout. It was not the legal size, so we tried not to kill it. We unhooked it and let it go but it was struggling. Then zip! The eagle came and grabbed it! Frankie almost jumped right out of the boat, he was so excited by that.”
The shop’s famous vintage barber chair, which comes complete with ashtrays on the arms, will go to local resident Glenn Upright, whose grandfather, father and son have all had their hair cut by Frankie.
“We’re only four generations in,” said Upright. “Some families in Avon have had five generations of haircuts by Frankie. The chairs were for grownups and the kids didn’t get a chair. You sat by the window here. And if you got out of line Frankie told you. They don’t make people like Frankie anymore. We all love him.”