Brighton Beach barber suffered the unkindest cut of all when a thief broke into his shop and stole dozens of monetary mementos of good will off his walls.
The cold-hearted crook took about $200 dollars worth of bills of various denominations given to longtime neighborhood barber Jack Skolnick over the years by his devoted customers, all inscribed with personal messages wishing him luck and prosperity.
Nothing else was stolen in the July 2 break-in at his shop at Brighton Beach Avenue and Brighton 14th Street, but Skolnick said the burglar made off with more than just the face value of bills.
“They robbed me of my memories,” said Skolnick. “Customers had given me ‘good luck’ dollars — that is what they took.”
Skolnick has been lowering ears in Brighton Beach since 1967, and chopped the mops of his customers’ kids, who eventually grew up to bring in their own children for a cut.
“I’ve cut three, four generations of hair,” said Skolnick. “I gave them their first haircuts and now they come in and they bring their children.”
Skolnick has even trimmed some of Brighton Beach’s famous favorite sons, like smooth crooner Neil Sedaka, and Oscar-nominated “The Wrestler” and “Black Swan” director Darren Aronofsky — who got his first glimpse of adulthood as a boy in Skolnick’s shop.
“He said, ‘I saw my first Playboy magazine in Jack’s barbershop,’ ” said Skolnick adding that Aronofsky’s father still frequents the shop.
Skolnick said he started cutting hair after he left the Army when he was 21. He has had three shops in Brighton Beach over the years, and each opening occasioned another bunch of “good luck” dollars from the longtime customers who followed him to his new shops, which Skolnick taped up on his ever-growing wall of well-wished. Often, newer customers seeing the beloved barber’s good-will display felt moved to add their own, and the wall accumulated more bills every year.
It never occurred to Skolnick that the display of dollars would tempt a thief — he expected to keep the mementos into his old age.
“I never thought anybody would take it,” said Skolnick. “I thought I would take that with me when I retired.”
Fortunately, all of the burgled bills have Skolnick’s name on them, and he hopes that if the crook tries to pass them in the neighborhood, local merchants will contact him and give him the chance to swap the scribbled script for clean bills.
If you see a bill of any denomination inscribed with some variation of “Good luck, Jack!” please contact Jack Skolnick at Jack’s Hairstyling for Men [1139 Brighton Beach Avenue at Brighton 14th Street in Brighton Beach, (718) 646–9715].