NORWOOD PARK — Ron's Barber Shop might just be Chicago's ultimate man cave.
The shop, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, is filled with sports memorabilia, from seats from the original Soldier Field, Chicago Stadium and Wrigley Field, to cricket bats, rugby balls and Blackhawks jerseys. The joint's magazine rack contains Penthouse, Playboy, Field & Stream, Musky Hunter, and, at the very bottom, Boys' Life.
Two small TVs show only games, never anything else.
The use of profanity is liberal, except when kids are around.
And only haircuts for men and boys are offered.
"The barbershop is a sacred place; it's the last place a guy can be a guy. That's why there ain't no women in here," owner Ron Ciezki said. "And we teach kids how to bust balls at an early age."
Barber in his blood
Ron's, 6921 W. Higgins Road, has been around since 1944, and Ciezki became the owner on July 1, 1984, renaming the shop after himself.
Ciezki has an interesting way of explaining his business history.
"I'm the fourth barber here," he said. "There was a Swedish guy for 21 years, who sold it to a Polish guy who was here 20-21 years, who sold it to a Greek guy for two years, then I bought it, and I've been here the longest."
In eighth grade, Ciezki was asked what he wanted to do when he grew up. His answer: be a barber. He is a proud 1970 alumnus of Moler Barber College in Wicker Park, and he still has a mint-condition coursebook from the school in his store.
Ciezki worked for his older brother, Bob, also a barber, in the 1970s and early 1980s before taking over Ron's. He's been cutting many of the same heads of hair for 30 years, on the same black-and-tan 1964 Paidar leather barber chairs. Many of his customers are "city workers, firemen, coppers, neighborhood people," Ciezki said.
Chicago Police detective Jimmy Adams, of Norwood Park, dropped by for a $7 buzz cut Wednesday morning. And after his haircut, Adams sat in one of the old Comiskey Park chairs for at least 30 minutes to banter with Ciezki and other clients.
"I hang out here all the time," said Adams, a Taft High School graduate who has five children, including three sons who, like him, have been getting their heads trimmed at Ron's for 10-plus years.
Many of the folks who enter Ron's don't even get a haircut, like Patrick Arnold, 38, who had his first Ciezki buzz when he was 9. They just want to chill with their pals, let loose some expletives and have a good time.
"There's a lot of goofing around," said Jack Mooney, 66, who's known Ciezki since childhood. "When the guys are here, anything goes."
Ciezki stressed that the men behave themselves when children are present. Although women rarely pass through the doors, they sometimes bring in their youngsters for haircuts, prompting better conduct.
"Nobody swears in front of the kids," Ciezki said. "I won't allow it. When kids are here, mum is the word."
A die-hard Cubs fan
Ciezki has trimmed a 4-month-old's coif and has given a haircut to a 100-year-old on his birthday. He has a scrapbook entitled "My First Haircut" stuffed with pictures of his customers' first 'dos. Children's first haircuts are free, as are ones for those getting married.
"For their first wedding, not their second," Ciezki said.
Haircuts are cheap: $13 for men, $12 for senior citizen, $10 for children under 12, and $5 for a beard trim. Only cash is accepted.
"Credit cards? No, no," Ciezki said. "When they bring credit cards in, I bend over and ask them to slide it through and see if it works."
Ciezki is more than comfortable letting that type of toilet humor fly. In fact, there's even a knock against the White Sox on Ron's bathroom toilet. The can's lid had a markered-in message reading, "You can put it in the bowl ... Yes."
Ciezki is a die-hard Cubs fan, noting "they're finally getting their s--- together." He has especially hated the South Siders since Jerry Reinsdorf bought the team in 1981 and put the team's games on the subscription TV service "Sportsvision." Ciezki said he has never entered U.S. Cellular Field — and never will unless new ownership comes in.
When the White Sox won the World Series in 2005, many of Ciezki's friends and customers had fun at his expense, covering Ron's with White Sox signs and leaving flower bouquets at the front door.
"I wouldn't cut hair until I got all that s--- down," Ciezki said. "But I was bringing flowers to my wife every day, so at least she was happy."
"This is my second family"
Ciezki has made Norwood Park and the surrounding neighborhoods happy for decades. His business has been a longtime sponsor of three youth baseball teams at Oriole Park. He helps organize fundraisers for groups like Wounded Warriors and helps raise cash for cancer survivors and their families.
Ciezki himself is a cancer survivor, beating paranasal sinus cancer four years ago. Even when he was undergoing chemotherapy treatments and used a feeding tube for five months, Ciezki was at Ron's cutting hair. He also continued to cut hair at the homes of clients who were impaired by either strokes, cancer or broken bones.
Ciezki has the rest of his life planned. He's starting to scout the men who will graduate from The Barber Academy in suburban Schaumburg, will ask one of them to serve as his apprentice for a year, and then, hopefully by 2017, hand over Ron's to him.
His goal is to live full time is Minocqua, Wis., where he has a summer home, and open a barber shop there. Up north, Ciezki longs to fish with Lynn, his wife of 29 years, and host visits from his son, Casey, and daughter, Lynsey.
He is most delighted by his children's accomplishments — Casey is an Illinois State alum and a salesman for Wirtz Beverage Group; Lynsey, a former star softball player at DePaul, graduated from the school and is an assistant coach at Harper College.
But he's also proud of the relationship he has with his customers.
"This is my second family," Ciezki said. "I've known these people, for Christ's sake, for 30 years."
Ron's Barber Shop, 6921 W. Higgins Road, is open 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday; and is closed Sundays.