It's a barbershop to most, but a destination for Eph football players.
St. Pierre's Barbershop has been in four different locations on Spring Street in Williamstown in its 103-year history, hence the sign out front that declares, "Still Only Three Hours from Fenway Park."
The current proprietor is Roger St. Pierre, who despite what the sign out front promises is NOT a Red Sox fan. Even worse – he's a Yankees fan, but every time since 1986 when the Ephs win the Homecoming football game St. Pierre's allegiance to "The evil empire" is overlooked as he welcomes the conquering Ephs inside his too small shop for a post-game celebration.
The post-game affair is not just any celebration – it was named "The best post-game tradition in America," by Sports Illustrated magazine back in 1992. The stop at St. Pierre's is now the culmination of "The Walk" and an annual goal for the football Ephs.
Roger St. Pierre is a North Adams native and at age 18 (1968) began working as a barber at the barbershop, which was then located on the west side of Spring Street between Bemis's store and The Williams Co-op. In September 1968 the barbershop relocated to the new Centre building at the corner of Bank Street and Spring Street. Roger enlisted in the Army (1969-71) and he returned to a new location in the Walden block next to the movie theater on the east side of Spring Street. The barbershop moved to its present location at 20 Spring Street in December of 1989.
|ESPN College GameDay host Chris Fowler
was invited into St. Pierre's in 2007 when
ESPN made Weston Field its first Division
Every Eph home game includes a ride up to Weston Field in a school bus and back after the game, that is that's how it was until 1971 when the bus would not start after the Homecoming win over Amherst.
Dave "The Tank" Shawan '72 is credited with starting the tradition when he yelled out in frustration at a stalled bus, "to hell with the bus, let's walk back," after the Ephs' convincing 31-14 win over archrival Amherst on November 13, 1971.
In the early years of The Walk the Ephs only made the trek up Spring Street if they defeated Amherst in the homecoming game, but those walks were just with helmet in hand and ended at Cole Field House. The first time The Walk made an appearance at St. Pierre's after a Homecoming win over Wesleyan was the miracle last play of the game win by the Ephs in 1982.
St. Pierre's became the focal point of The Walk in 1986 thanks to the close relationship Roger and the barbers had established with the team members and Williamstown's own David Montgomery '89. Montgomery, who had seen The Walk growing up in town promised St. Pierre that he would bring his teammates if the Ephs downed Wesleyan in 1986. Montgomery did show up with a half dozen of his classmates after the Eph win, setting the stage for a bigger, better version of The Walk.
Montgomery escalated the affair in 1987 when he and the Ephs were inspired to beat Amherst because the Lord Jeffs were riding a 6-year win streak and because he would line up against his older brother Gordon. Montgomery assured St. Pierre that a win over Amherst would bring the whole team.
When the Ephs dispatched Amherst 25-7 it was, "just like that first walk in 1971 when they came as one unit like an army of gorillas," noted St. Pierre. "As the team walked up the middle of Spring St. and approached the barbershop they turned and 75-85 players charged into the 20 ft sq. barbershop. Not knowing what would come next I found a perch next to the cash register and watched as the team began singing and cheering."
There are rules for The Walk and they are so simple they do not have to be written down. The Walk is for the players only. No coaches, trainers, or managers can walk with the team. Usually the Ephs will head out of Weston Field somewhere around 10 minutes after the post-game handshakes, singing "Yard-by-Yard." They stroll up Latham Street and around the corner to the right and smack dab up the middle of the busiest street downtown – Spring St. Singing and acknowledging cheers from fellow students, fans, friends, and family the volume and vigor of the cheers edges ever higher until the team reaches St. Pierre's near the top of the street.
Nowadays the Williamstown PD closes Spring Street for The Walk, especially after a win over Amherst when upwards of 500 folks gather outside St. Pierre's.
At the barbershop the shades come down and the players enter singing and cheering. In short order someone will ask Roger for the clippers and the real fun begins inside, while the fans position themselves out front to see what artistic expressions – read "celebratory haircuts" will emerge. The haircuts are eye-catching, if not artistic, and for moms and girlfriends they might even be heart stopping.
It has to be players only in the barbershop as the shop can barely hold the team. Oh, occasionally a videographer or a photographer will be allowed in or even a superstar like Chris Fowler, the host of ESPN's College GameDay. Fowler was allowed inside to thank the team for a memorable moment after he witnessed The Walk when the popular show visited Williams in 2007 – GameDay's first visit to an NCAA Division III school.
St. Pierre's and The Walk have appeared on ESPN, NESN and in the New York Times and the Boston Globe and it just may be the most famous barbershop in all of New England.
In the 40-year history of games played since Shawan and his teammates marched up the middle of Spring Street the first time and back to Cole Field House the Ephs have compiled a glittering record of 32-7-1 (813).