" A C H I E V E M E N T S "

"Raising funds to keep the White Meadow Lake Fire Department warm"

White Meadow Fire Company No. 5 conducted a successful fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 at the White Meadow Lake Clubhouse to raise funds for a new furnace for the firehouse. More than 240 came out to support the event, including Freeholder John Cesaro, Mayor Michael Dachisen, Rockaway Township Council members Jack Quinn, Dan Anello, Jeremy Jedynak and Patricia Abrahamson. Shown from left are members of the Firehouse Company 5 Executive Board: Tom Degnan, Frank Maddaloni, Ron Trisuzzi (event chairman), Joe Aragona, Jimmy Russo, Marty Cuspilich and Walter Ardin.

" P R O C L A M A T I O N ! "

Ronnie "The Barber" Trisuzzi received a Rockaway Township proclamation for 40 years of service in the community. "I am White Meadow Lake," said Ron Trisuzzi. If it was anyone else, such a statement would sound grandiose, but from Trisuzzi, it is simply a fact. For 40 years, Trisuzzi and his business, The Hair Shop, have been mainstays in the Rockaway Township lake community. "Ron the Barber," or Ronnie as he is known, has witnessed the changes in White Meadow Lake over the decades, has seen kids become adults, and watched loyal customers grow old. He can claim to cut three generations of hair within families. The walls of The Hair Shop are covered with photographs of White Meadow Lake's past and its people. Fitting, considering the shop is a gathering spot where customers meet for coffee and conversation, even on days they do not need a haircut. It is also a must stop on many people's visit back home to see parents. It does not matter if someone has been away from the area for many years, for when a former customer visits, Trisuzzi may not remember the name, but he remembers the person. "Everything else may change, but the eyes stay the same," he said.

A "constant" is what Trisuzzi said he has been called. While other beloved White Meadow Lake businesses, including Mary and John's, a deli/candy shop, and Finishing Touch, a women's hair salon, closed after decades, The Hair Shop remains. In noting that he has been cutting hair for the same guys for 25, 30, even 40 years, Trisuzzi said, "They just keep coming back. Where do you ever hear that happening? Times are very tough for the mom and pop stores with big businesses like Home Depot replacing hardware stores, CVS taking from pharmacies, luncheonettes have lost to McDonald's, pizzerias to Domino's, and many hair places to Supercuts. The little guy doesn't stand a chance anymore. So it's special I can survive. I feel lucky I have this. It's very, very special."

For the people of White Meadow Lake and Trisuzzi, it is clearly a mutual admiration club. Just as his customers would not think of going elsewhere, Trisuzzi would not want his business in any other location. He loves White Meadow Lake. "I think it is the greatest community in the world. If I were to start over again, I would still do it here," he said. With a strong belief in giving back, Trisuzzi has been involved with local sports teams, the Rockaway Township Fire Department Co. 5, located around the corner from The Hair Shop, which is on Upper Mountain Avenue, and the Rockaway Township chapter of the Lions Club. Trisuzzi said he found he has a knack for fundraising and most recently helped the firehouse get a new roof. Over the years, he has chaired dances for the Lions Club, raising money for Camp Marcella, located in the northern end of the township, which serves visually impaired children. Trisuzzi became a barber in 1963. He said it is not a job in which one gets rich, "but you don't really have to work and can make a nice living."

He started out in Cedar Grove, then moved to South Orange and then Fairfield and then Pine Brook. He found his community by accident, or more likely it was fate. He was out for a drive with his first wife and two children when he got lost and "stumbled upon White Meadow Lake." The year was 1973 and White Meadow Lake had what Trisuzzi described as a "small, but bustling business center." There, he found a store with a "For Rent" sign. A peek in the window revealed that it was an empty barbershop. He signed a lease for $75 a month. All that the place needed was to be painted and Trisuzzi turned on the barbershop pole, opened the door, and as he said, "never looked back." Trisuzzi has actually occupied two different spaces in White Meadow Lake, each one for 20 years. As one would expect, 40 years in a community means there are many stories to tell. Trisuzzi recalled that not long after he moved into White Meadow Lake, a police officer came in with his long-haired son and requested a crew cut for the boy. The style at the time was for longer hair and Trisuzzi could see that the boy was distressed by the father's demand, but there was no convincing the officer to consider a less severe hair cut. Trisuzzi asked the father about this and was told it was a punishment for the boy. "A hard lesson, but a lesson learned," said Trisuzzi, who revealed that the boy was Michael Dachisen, currently mayor of Rockaway Township.

Recently, Dachisen and the Town Council honored Trisuzzi for his years of service to the township. Still emotional at the memory of that special night, Trisuzzi said that getting the call from the mayor's office was next to the births of his children, a great event. It was standing room only, with the Fire Department Co. 5 alone, accounting for some 20 people by Trisuzzi's estimate. He was moved that "people took time out of their busy lives to go to the town hall on a Tuesday night to see me." Trisuzzi said that barbers never retire and he just renewed his lease for five years. He plans to stay in business for as long as he can stand and see. It is his thought of the people of White Meadow Lake as unfinished stories that keeps Trisuzzi going. He wants to stick around to see what happens. He said, "How can I leave all this? It's part of my life."


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