SHEAR HAPPINESS: 92-year-old Darien barber still cutting hair once a week

John Chetta just retired full-time, but once a week, you'll still find him on the job.

Marissa Alter

May 23, 2024, 10:57 PM

Updated 27 days ago

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In downtown Darien, there's one barbershop pole that's been spinning for decades.
Even more impressive is that one of its owners is 92 years old.
John Chetta just retired full-time, but once a week, you'll still find him on the job.
Chetta has cut and conversed at Darien Barber Shop for 66 years.
“He loves food, loves gardening, loves life. It's an experience more than a haircut,” said customer Bill Adamsen.
Chetta was born in Sicily and came to Norwalk in 1947. His first job was in a shoe factory, but after getting married, Chetta decided to go to trade school to become a barber. Once he graduated, he saw the owner of Darien Barber Shop was looking for help.
“He said, 'Let me see how you work.' So I went in my car, and I got my little suitcase, and I did a haircut. He said, ‘You’re hired,’” Chetta recalled. “And I been here since then, since 1958. I never worked for anybody else.”
Chetta and another barber, Dominick Dellaripa, took over the business along the way.
“We've been together 50 some years,” Dellaripa told News 12 with a smile.
“I just love it, you know? I love to be with people,” Chetta explained.
That's why the 92-year-old works every Thursday, despite recently deciding to cut a new path.
“I retired because I have a big garden. I have a lot of grandchildren, a big family. So, I want to enjoy what I'm doing on the outside too,” Chetta said. “I figure one day a week here, the rest with the family and the garden.”
Chetta has three kids, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. But looking at Chetta, you’d likely think he’s younger than 92. His age is often questioned, including recently by a woman.
“She said, ‘I don't believe you're 92!’ But she said, ‘What's the secret?’ Don't eat no junk food, eat good food and drink lot of wine,” Chetta told News 12 laughing.
“Not too many people make 92 and are still working, you know ?” Dellarippa said.
“It's amazing. He’s an inspiration,” Adamsen added.
Adamsen, whose hair has changed over the years, has been getting his cuts from Chetta for at least 20 years.
“When he first started coming, he had a lot of it,” Chetta joked.
It’s evident Adamsen isn’t the only loyal customer.
“I tried to make an appointment last Thursday, and he was fully booked. That's a challenge,” Adamsen said.
Chetta can’t begin to guess how many people have sat in his chair over the years, but he said the group has even included three generations of the same family.
“I'm a little concerned he may have more retirement plans. I don't have a backup,” Adamsen told News 12.
But for now, Chetta has no plans to fully put away his scissors, which is good news for all his longtime customers.
Ask Chetta why they keep coming back and his answer is immediate.
“I’m good. I’m a good barber,” Chetta laughs.
Darien Barber Shop is open six days a week and is located on the Post Road.


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