A part of Cambridge’s past effectively disappeared when Wayne’s Lotto Shop closed its doors for the last time on Monday, March 4.
With that turn of the key went almost 81 years of history and several generations of memories, starting from the time local hairdresser Frank Edge took up the lease in 1938, building it into a successful barber shop and tobacconist, with the quintessential barber’s pole outside.
The second of Frank and Margaret Edge’s four sons, Wayne, followed in his dad’s footsteps. He undertook apprenticeship training in which he agreed to learn a comprehensive skill set that included “hairdressing, shaving, razor setting, shampooing, singeing, face and head massage, elementary hygiene, skilled use and care of tools of trade, and elementary business psychology”.
His half-century tenure at what became Wayne’s Lotto and Men’s Barber ran from the start of that apprenticeship in 1959 – when he earned the equivalent of $8.25 a week – to his death from cancer in August 2011. During that time, Wayne won hearts as much for his razor-sharp jokes as for his skills as a barber; his brother Richard is on record as having described him as someone who always tried to make others laugh.
His bachelor brother had always preferred a simple life, Richard said. “In some ways, Wayne being a barber meant that he had a counsellor-type of role with his customers. He did not seek worldly goods and wealth. He gave money to those he wanted to help.”
As much as Wayne became a character around town, so, it seems, was Frank. Word has it that Frank regularly cycled to work, parking his bike on the pavement outside. One day it was stolen and later returned to the spot in a fetching shade of pink. That incident, said to have had an incendiary effect on the mild-mannered Frank, marked the start of what was effectively a boomerang bicycle, with the bike stolen and reappearing in different colours on an almost weekly basis.
“Apparently the bars on the frame of the bike got really thick with all the layers of paint,” said Suzanne Harris, who has managed the store for around 25 years. Sad as she is to leave now, she said: “I am so lucky to have worked with someone like Wayne. We always had a wonderful time.”
Customers often commented on the charm of the place, Suzanne said, enjoying the old-fashioned service it has long espoused.
The years following Frank’s death in 1979, and Wayne’s in 2011, saw the outlet pass to three different owners. It is now up for sale, essentially a victim of changing times.
Richard said the shift of Lotto to other outlets in town was a catalyst in the store’s closure – just as had happened in Frank’s day when cigarette sales moved beyond the bounds of a tobacconist and into supermarkets and dairies.