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Barbershop bombed

June 8, 2007 |  5:48 am



1957_0607_bomb June 8, 1957
Los Angeles

Someday a sociologist at USC (you know who you are) will make a study of the fad of bombing Los Angeles barbershops, which began about 1952 and ended about 1971 with the advent of long hair.

The bombings occurred across Los Angeles in an apparent attempt to force barbers to adopt union prices. W.H. Siebert, whose Compton barbershop was destroyed in 1954 by a bombing, said:

"At one time three guys who said they were from the union visited me and told me, 'You'll either get up to our prices or else.'  On another occasion I was picketed for eight weeks. Then they used to park 20 cars bumper to bumper in front of my place and that was stopped when the area was rezoned to one-hour parking." Siebert charged 95 cents ($6.92 USD 2006) for a haircut instead of the union price of $1.50.

Union officials said they picketed Seibert's shop in 1953, but denied any knowledge of a bombing. "We do not countenance that sort of action in any form," the union's Frank LeCain said.

Richard A. Mills, whose Sherman Oaks shop was bombed in 1954, said he originally tried to charge union scale, but that he couldn't get customers so he cut his price to $1. "They said I'd better get back up to the $1.50 price," Mills said of the union. "They kept reminding me of what happened to 'that fellow up the street,' " apparently referring to a shop at 4824 Van Nuys Blvd., that was bombed in 1952.

In the June 1957 bombing, barbers Gene Franks and his father, Artie, were charging $1.25, a quarter less than the union price.

After an 11-year gap, the attacks resumed, with an unidentified bomber setting his arm on fire as gasoline spilled from the Molotov cocktail he threw into a barbershop at 10855 Magnolia Blvd., in North Hollywood.

The last documented bombing occurred in Azusa at an address published in The Times as 323 N. Seninoke Ave., which does not exist.

In the following years, the advent of long hair put many barbershops out of business and the bombings ceased.

Here's a map.

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