Eli the Coast Guard ‘cutter’

BREMERTON—He has a tall ship tattooed on his chest, salt water in his veins, and barbering in his genes.

Coast Guard veteran Ike Hartnett is an old-fashioned kind of barber. Every haircut comes with a conversation and ends with hot shaving cream and a straight-razor trim to the back of the neck. It’s a leisurely, friendly visit that includes a good haircut at a fair price.

Esconced behind his “Americana” barber’s chair at the Uptown Barber Shop, 517 Fourth St. in Bremerton, the barrel-chested, bearded barber fits right into this location that has, according to Hartnett, been a haircutting establishment of one kind or another since the 1930s.

Hartnett spent much of his 14-year Coast Guard career as a diesel mechanic at the USCG Cape Disappointment Station near Ilwaco. When he got out in 2010, he had to make a choice.

“I thought about going to college and getting a degree on my G.I. Bill,” he said. “But I was married and had kids. So I went to barber school instead. I had a grandfather who was a barber, so maybe it’s in the genes.”

After graduating from Bates Technical College in Tacoma in 2013, he came to work for Kellie Quanrud, owner of the Uptown Barber Shop.

“That was my first job out of the military,” he recalled. “The shop had just opened and that first year was rough. But we worked our a**es off, and business at least doubled the second year. Then it more than doubled again in 2015, and again last year,” he said proudly.

Today there are five stations in the shop, staffed by six women and three men.

Hartnett acknowledges that, because of its location close to NBK-Bremerton and the shipyard, Uptown Barber is a popular place for sailors and PSNS men who want a good regulation military haircut.

Hartnett does “civilian” haircuts, too.

But, civilian or military, he makes your haircut a pleasant social experience; none of the assembly line, in and out, haircuts offered at some more modern hairstyling salons.

“I like to talk,” Hartnett admitted. “I’ll talk a dog off the back of a meat truck. It’s cheap counseling for my customers and for me, too.”