Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Good Cutter

My friend Juma Archuleta said goodbye late last year.  He was a larger than life character whose barber shop was a bastion of manly men, irreverent commentary and of neatly stacked magazines of, ahem, educational value.

I wanted to document the waning days of Juma’s shop aka Raoul’s Brotherhood of Love and floated the idea several times without success. Because he had been given a terminal cancer diagnosis he worried that the story would really be about his decline and imminent demise so he demurred and I didn't press.  It was to be about the shop and the end of an era but how actually would I separate the two. Probably couldn't.

Juma, full name Emiliano Juma Archuleta also known as Raoul, chose to be a barber right out of high school in Animas, Colorado and pursued that dream in Denver in the early sixties.  He would have been 72 next month.  He told me several times that he'd fold his tent when he had completed fifty years of barbering. He wanted to retire on his own terms with plenty of living left to do but the disease didn't accommodate the dream.

He was a bon vivant, a raconteur, a patron of the arts, an astute observer of the political world, and one dapper dude.  Why did guy with his intellect and erudition chose to be a barber? I wish I had asked.
 
Whenever I was away from Taos for more than a couple of weeks one of my rituals was an early morning visit to Juma’s for a cut and, more importantly, the latest on the murky world of Taos politics. Juma always knew who did what to whom and why weeks before made the Taos News. I swear he could predict the future.
 
And, credit where credit is due, he was one hell of a barber. He told me that right out of barber school he went to work for a barber in a Denver hotel, maybe The Ambassador, and that he “was lucky” because his boss in the shop was “ a good cutter.” Gotta love the lingo.
 
Juma was a really good cutter.

 
 

7 comments:

Daryl A. Black said...

These are two of your best portraits - soft, lush, telling. I am so glad you were able to photograph Juma before he left this world. They are your gifts to him, his family, and the world.

Steve Immel said...

Thanks Daryl. The guy deserved more.

Jim Rogers Photography said...

What a moving memorial. I'm sure your legendary "cutter" is smiling down upon you. Good post, as usual!

Steve Immel said...

Thanks all.

Steve Immel said...

Thanks all.

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