Boston
Posted: 03 May 2014 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]
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As in the haircut. When I was young in the early 60s and just reaching the age when I had some control over my own hairstyle (and could at last put the loathsome ‘short back and sides’ behind me) one of the instructions I’d give the barber would be, ‘Can I have a boston at the back, please’. What it meant, at least in Portsmouth and the South of England, was that the hair would be trimmed in a straight line at the back of the head.

No sign of the usage in OED. I’m not having much luck in finding an origin for this by googling. Image search however turns up exactly what I mean for the search term ‘boston hairstyle back neck straight’, as in this image:

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSJ_UiHXRITgR9zCo3QP4hdfyABesP6gvudHilYQpPNWCRJDMCt

How widespread was the term? Was it used in leftpondia? And how far back does it go?

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Posted: 03 May 2014 01:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’ve never heard of it, though that doesn’t signify much.  When I was a child my mom did the family haircuts, and when I grew into adulthood I’ve never invested much of my self-image in my hair.  If it’s out of my eyes, not curling into my ear canals, and doesn’t make me look ludicrous or disreputable, I’m satisfied.  (I can afford to be complacent, since I still have most of it and it’s still almost all the original color--my beard is mostly gray, but not my pate.)

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Posted: 04 May 2014 02:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I don’t think it’s used in the States, or at least I’ve never heard it. Blocked is the term I’ve always heard, with the other choice being tapered.

I can’t speak to Canadian usage on this point. I haven’t had a hair cut since moving here.

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Posted: 04 May 2014 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The origins of tonsorial terms occasionally have more than meets the eye. I recall reading an interview with an English hairdresser, who described a number of styles, including one which he called a “District Attorney”. It turned out that this was a euphemism for a popular style called, at that time, “Duck’s Arse”. Who knows what imagery may be lurking behind a respectable-sounding “Boston” rear view?

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Posted: 04 May 2014 08:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Ah, the Duck’s Arse, or DA as it was usually known around these parts. It was popular with Teddy Boys and later Rockers, usually accompanied with a blow wave at the front, long sideboards or sideburns and the hair laded with copious amounts of Brylcreem.

As with the good Doctor, I still have all my hair, still dark though flecked with grey, and I too try to keep it reasonably short. When I was very young I believe my mother used the classic pudding-bowl method of cutting my hair a few times but it was usually the base barber I went to (we lived in married quarters for much of my childhood).

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Posted: 04 May 2014 02:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Yank here, and this is the first I’ve heard of “boston” in this sense.  I’m curious to see if anything turns up about it.  (Like Doc T and aldi, I still have my hair and it’s still almost all the original color; I can say with the Good Doctor “my beard is mostly gray, but not my pate.” Does an interest in words keep the hair youthful?)

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Posted: 05 May 2014 12:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Does an interest in words keep the hair youthful?

I think most of you characters are youthful all over. Many of you haven’t even reached 60, and the prime of life! I do believe, though, that participation in wordorigins.org can teach one to keep one’s hair on (I came to the site too late in life for that—I doubt if I could sustain a sparrow’s arse, let alone a duck’s) ;-)

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Posted: 05 May 2014 12:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Back in 1971, when I was still a hippie freak, I went to a barbershop just for a trim, to make myself a bit more palatable to some old friends of my mother’s. Rocky, the redneck barber, apparently decided I needed to be “Americanized,” and he did a pretty fair job of depriving me of my gorgeous curly locks. I vowed never again to pay for a haircut, and have been cutting my own hair ever since. Hell, I don’t have to look at it.

I certainly remember DAs, never heard of a Boston.

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Posted: 05 May 2014 04:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Many of you haven’t even reached 60

I’ll turn 63 in less than two months.

Back in 1971, when I was still a hippie freak, I went to a barbershop just for a trim, to make myself a bit more palatable to some old friends of my mother’s. Rocky, the redneck barber, apparently decided I needed to be “Americanized,” and he did a pretty fair job of depriving me of my gorgeous curly locks.

A year or two earlier, I brought my hippie-freak college friend Jim home to spend the weekend with me at my aunt and uncle’s place in Long Beach (my parents were in Argentina, where my father was with the embassy).  My aunt and uncle, wonderful people, were Okies and culturally quite conservative (though politically she was liberal and he a George Wallace supporter).  She took one look at him, dragged him to the back porch, sat him down, and cut his hair to a length the Marines would not have objected to.  I apologized to him afterwards, but he took it in stride; of course he was also a pothead, so everything seemed pretty funny to him.

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Posted: 05 May 2014 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I’ll turn 63 in less than two months.

Ad me’ah ve-’essrim*, languagehat!

* this is a blessing which we children of Israel bestow on birthday people. It means “till 120”, which according to the Bible, is the age attained by our fearless leader, Moses. It’s the reason I referred to age 60 as “the prime of life” --- a sort of half-way milestone, along the road to fulfilment, when all those so-called “mid-life crises” are (hopefully) at last behind us.

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Posted: 05 May 2014 08:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I did some digging and found this, linked on the Word Reference forum.

Every male in a Boston bar looks the same.  They all dress pretty much the same and they’re all cleanly shaven and they all have the same neat, clean army haircut, the Boston haircut.

On the WordReference forum linked above there’s a link to a photo of American GIs and Irish girls. The GIs look as if they may have boston cuts at the back.

Photo

So maybe it was a style popularized in the Boston area, brought over by GIs to England in WW2 and taken up by English youth in the 50s.

Lionello, your words are immensely cheering. Maybe 65 isn’t so bad after all!

[ Edited: 05 May 2014 08:19 AM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 05 May 2014 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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True, I’m still about a year and a half short of 60, but my father went bald in his 20s.

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Posted: 05 May 2014 04:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Lionello, your words are immensely cheering.

To me as well!  A groysen dank dir, Lionello.

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