Richard Peraino, the 70-year-old proprietor of The Family Barbershop on Main Street, has lived in Geneseo all his life and has no intention of leaving.
Peraino was born Sept. 12, 1940 here in Geneseo. "My mother said there wasn't time to get me to the hospital, so I was born right there in the house," he said.
Peraino's mother worked part-time while his father Enunzio cut hair as a barber. Enunzio grew up during the Great Depression wanting to go to school, but he couldn't afford it, and becoming a barber allowed "Nun" to learn a trade at a young age - he was only 10 years old - and also support his family, Peraino said.
Growing up, Peraino had a brother and a sister. He graduated from Geneseo High School in 1959 - "Before most of the kids at Geneseo today were even thought of," he joked - and began working at a local factory. After a factory-wide layoff, Peraino needed work and he found his way into cutting hair, the profession that would eventually define his life. "My father never pushed me, he never believed in doing that. He just said to me out of the blue sky, 'Do you wanna go to barber school? I'll pay for it.'" Peraino said he originally took his father's words as a joke, but that he'd never change what he's doing because he loves it.
Peraino was 23 years old when he became a barber. At that time, his family owned a barbershop on Main Street where Linfoot Real Estate now stands, and Peraino worked alongside his father there for 10 years. In 1973, Peraino changed locations and opened the Family Barbershop at 97 Main St., where it remains today.
The Family Barbershop, Peraino said, is the home to the most reasonable haircut in Geneseo. "It's only $9," he said. "And you don't need an appointment to come in either; I only take walk-ins."
Peraino cites his love for the barbering trade as the reason he still comes into the shop a few days a week even after all these years. "I don't want to work any more than I am, but I don't want to quit either," he said. "The only way that the shop will be closed entirely is when they carry me out of here for good."
Peraino said his favorite thing about cutting hair is that he gets to talk to a wide range of people: "Conversations are always different: politics, life in general, whatever's on your mind that day."
As for living in Geneseo with a population that consists of mainly college students: "I think this town is good with the college. With 5,400 students you're bound to have one or two bad apples, but through the years, it's been a really good relationship," Peraino said. He added that he has never once considered moving out of Geneseo: "It's my home."
As for Peraino's other hobbies: "I used to enjoy traveling a lot, but I don't do that much anymore … I used to love going to New England every summer," he said. "It's beautiful."
"No matter what you do in life, you're never gonna satisfy everybody, but I think I've done a pretty good job," Peraino said. "Over the years, I've seen Geneseo business come and go, but I'm still here."