Joseph Longo, one of the oldest practicing barbers in Baltimore, died Wednesday of an aneurysm at Harbor Hospital Center. He was 82.
He began working in his father's Lee Street barber shop in 1916, as a 4-year-old, sweeping the floor and brushing off customers with a whisk broom. When he was 12, he began mixing shaving lather and giving shaves with a straight razor. He gave his last haircut Sunday.
"He detested hair stylists," said Steve Zinz, a Montgomery Street resident and longtime friend. "He used to say, 'When I cut hair, I want to cut hair.' "
In earlier years, Mr. Longo traveled aboard the old Tolchester Chesapeake Bay steamers giving haircuts.
"He was born and lived in the same house on East Henrietta Street for 75 years," said his wife, the former Juanita Wright, whom he married in 1948.
He attended Southern High School and sold advertising for the Enterprise newspaper, now the Enterprise and Inner Harbor News, before going to work for his father full time. He and his father operated Longo's Barber Shop at various times on Lee, Light and Charles streets.
During World War II, he was a watchman for United Fruit Co.
"He was a neighborhood historian and was a fixture in Muhly's Bakery on South Charles Street where he'd sit and talk," said Mr. Zinz.
"Oh, he loved to cook Italian food," said Mrs. Longo. "All through the neighborhood he was known for his Italian salad, and he loved cooking chicken cacciatore, eggplant Parmesan and spaghetti."
He was a member of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church.
Services are planned for 10 a.m. tomorrow at the McCully Funeral Home, 130 E. Fort Ave., with interment in Holy Cross Cemetery.
In addition to his wife, survivors include a son, Dominick Longo of Baltimore; two daughters, Joyce Sours of Severn and Rose Weber of Chase; a brother, Salvatore A. Longo, and two sisters, Angelina Longo and Felicia Longo, all of Westview; and three grandchildren.