Gathering recently in the Warrensburg Museum of Local History around Joe DeMatties’ barber chair are his offspring (seated): Allison Drake of Warrensburg, (standing, left to right): Joe Dematties of Queensbury, Ernie DeMatties of Poultney, Vt., Irving DeMatties of Queensbury. (Not pictured): Darlynn Bates and Murray DeMatties.
continued In 1955, DeMatties bought the home at 107 Main St., where Adirondack Regional Insurance Agency is now located, and that’s where he practiced his trade for nearly another half-century.
“Joe the Barber” was known to give haircuts virtually any time of day.
At the time, men received hot towel “face packs” and a shave with a straight razor accompanying their haircut, and women received a wash and cut.
Also, he made house calls as well as visiting the local summer camps, cutting hair for up to 100 boys on a Saturday, reportedly for 10 cents each. Additionally, DeMatties cut hair at local nursing homes, Countryside Adult Home, and other locations.
If necessary, DeMatties would take virtually anything of value, even a little box of odds and ends, in exchange for a haircut.
Children and adults loved his gregarious nature — children coveted the Tootsie Roll Pops and other goodies he handed out after a haircut, Joe’s sons have recalled. No one was ever turned away from his shop for lack of money.
Joe was known to enjoy horse races and wagering, and occasionally, he’d close the shop and head for the Saratoga track — sometimes with his friend, another local barber “Juicy” Bennett. DeMatties enjoyed socializing with the other barbers in Warrensburg during his long career — they included John Pitkin, Chauncy Tarantelli, Michabood, Bob Lloyd and others.
DeMatties and his friends also enjoyed gathering in one of the barber shops to play some poker — if it wasn’t interrupted by the local sheriff Howard Hewitt, who would stop the game if anyone was losing too much.
In 1989, the community paid tribute to DeMatties’ generosity and outgoing friendly attitude, when more than 120 friends and family members celebrated his 80th birthday. The event was commemorated as “Joe DeMatties Day” by Lake George Village.
In 2000, Joe DeMatties retired and moved in with his daughter Allison Drake, at her home in Warrensburg off Library Ave. He passed on Nov. 3, 2004, just days short of his 95th birthday.