Obama Watch: The presidential barbershop chair

By Yasmine Laasraoui

It’s overwhelming to think about all the things President Obama has once touched, sat in or on, been to, eaten and worn that are now being commemorated, displayed and sold to the public. In many people’s eyes he is not only the country’s leader, but also a celebrity.

So I’ve embarked upon a series of reports on Obama-related curiosities that can be found in the Hyde Park neighborhood.

Hyde Park Hair Salon at 5234 S. Blackstone Ave. contains the chair Obama sat in while receiving his haircuts before he made it into the White House. The President used to be a regular at the salon, where one can now get the “Home of the Obama Cut” for 21 dollars.

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Unfortunately, the chair is no longer open for public seating. In February of 2009, R.S. Owens & Company, the manufacturer of such awards as the Oscar and Emmy, gave the salon a plexiglass case as a gift. Removing the red velvet rope that once separated the iconic chair from its visitors, the salon’s entrance now displays the chair encased in a clear, shiny box.

I can see the attraction of visiting the chair, however it was disappointing to be unable to sit where Obama once sat to get his hair cut. For me, visiting the President’s barbershop chair was more interesting than desperately searching for my favorite actor’s name on California’s Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Apparently many seem to agree with me, as several people from Chicago and abroad frequent the salon to see the chair, according to barber Tony, to “have the experience.”

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