At 71 years young, Henry Franco is the best barber in Santa Barbara. In business for more than 50 years, Henry straight-razor shaves me every Thursday morning — and I must admit that it’s become a necessity of mine for the sheer pleasure of spending a half-hour with this Victoria Street personality.
Wearing a ponytail, Henry stands in front of his business greeting people who walk by — he knows everybody and everyone knows him. He takes pride in his beautiful vintage bright green truck parked nearby, and his extravagant and over the top decorations for the holidays are now legendary. (One year, his entire store-front became a gingerbread house.) Inside, his establishment is adorned with personalized shaving mugs and brushes from all of his clients — and don’t miss checking out the photographs in the skylight above the barber’s chair.
Henry’s craftsmanship and grooming skills are significant, but it’s the camaraderie you develop with this big-hearted man that keeps you coming back. He’s the type of person who is so individualistic that, on Fridays, when the rest of the world dresses casually, Henry wears his Sunday best. Just don’t show up on Wednesdays, for he’s a rabid golfer, and that’s his day.
Below, this Santa Barbara institution submits to our weekly Proust questionnaire.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A day without a phone
What is your greatest fear?
At my age…fear?!?
Who do you most admire?
A self-made person.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Going on vacation every year.
What is your current state of mind?
That I’m still a kid.
What is the quality you most like in people?
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
The Me-Me-Me attitude.
What do you most value in friends?
What is your most marked characteristic?
I’m able to talk to anyone.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“What did you say?” and “Huh?” I think I may not be able to hear.
Which talent would you most like to have?
To be able to play the piano.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’m not sure that I want to change.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I’ve done 15 marathons.
What do you like about your job the most?
Working downtown and being able to talk to people from all walks of life.
What is your motto?
Earn more, work less.