What does former coach Bo Schembechler’s former barber know about football, campus or Ann Arbor business? Turns out a lot.
Owner Jerry Erickson has provided conversation about all of the above at his State Street barbershop since 1972. As Maize and Blue fans peruse newspapers and watch ESPN, Erickson cuts hair, tells stories and makes game-day predictions. He’s a Michigan football traditionalist who doesn’t think it’s an coincidence that the football team hasn’t won a game since Schembechler died. On the walls and ceiling, photos of past Michigan teams and retired jerseys are evidence of Erickson’s passion for University sports. A stuffed black bear holding a beer can, a gift from a regular client and a toy coyote dangling from a fluorescent light add a little more character to one of the city’s few remaining barbershops. Here are his thoughts on football, barbershop culture and kids these days.
– Playboy is the barbershop bible. It would be hard to have a female barber in here and not have a lawsuit thrown against me. You know the way men talk sometimes.
– I used to go to the games, back when you could take a case of beer and it wasn’t so sterile. But I just stay here now. I have my TV, a cold beer in the fridge. Saturday and Wednesday nights we have beer. Actually, every night we have beer.
– I wish the draft were back in place. Kids protested when the draft was in place. Now it’s too much of a “me” society.
– The sad thing about being in this business is reading the obituaries and seeing my customers’ names.
– Eighty percent of my customers are townies. Students are the icing on the cake.
– We’re a dying breed as far as I’m concerned. A handful of traditional barbershops have been around Church Street and Liberty Street a long time, but beauticians and fake barbers have taken over.
– There was no way I was going to have a place called Ferry Field Barbershop. I named it Coach and Four and I started getting coaches in here, hockey players, Bill Martin and Bo (Schembechler).
– Bo used to come in every three weeks. He had a Big Ten show and wanted to look good. I think he knew he was on limited time. He used to go next door to get a tuna sandwich because he was watching his weight. But the Wednesday before he died he got a Philly cheese steak.
– I like to tell people I came down from the U.P. with two nickels in my pocket. That’s probably all I’m going home with.
– As told to Emily Angell