By Matt Daigle
NORWAY — For decades, Ed’s Barber Shop has been a fixture on Main Street, and at its center was Ed Damon.
Damon, 81, passed away on Tuesday, Nov. 15, and in the following days, many residents remembered him as a generous, hard-working and multi-talented man.
He began barbering in the corner of a pool hall that was located below Beal’s Hotel on Main Street in the 1950’s.
In 1958, he moved across the street and set up shop at 444 Main Street, where he operated as “Ed’s Barber Shop” for the nearly 60 years.
Norway Town Manager David Holt said that he got his hair cut by Damon “when I was about 10 or 12 years old.”
“I was a quiet and shy young man, and he was anything but quiet or shy,” Holt said. “It was quite an experience to go in there and listen to him fool around. It really was quite something.”
Since becoming town manager of Norway, Holt said that he watched Damon continue to be involved in his community, including tending to the Norway Snowmobile Club’s grant program.
“He’s a very diligent type of person,” Holt said. “He filled in every space, and put a dot on every ‘i.’ He did a great job representing his town.”
As skilled as Damon was with cutting hair and writing grants, Lee Dassler, executive director of the Western Foothills Land Trust, said that Damon had another skill: dancing.
“He and his wife were extraordinary dancers,” Dassler said. “They came to one or two of (the Land Trust’s) Snowshoe Festivals in February, and they were our own little Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.”
Dassler said that Ed and his wife, Beverly, would sometimes split up in the middle of a dance to seek out struggling dancers who needed help with some moves.
“Their generation learned to dance in a way that newer generations never learned,” Dassler said. “In fact, I had heard that they actually met at a dance.”
She added that Damon was “radiant,” and always had a “smile and a glint in his eye.”
“He was a generous, wonderful, warm soul,” Dassler continued. “I used to love walking across the street to get a coffee at Cafe Nomad, and he was already in his shop, making the world a more beautiful and handsome place as he worked on people’s haircuts. I was so saddened to hear that he passed away.”
Andrea Burns, board member and former president of Norway Downtown, said that Damon has “had a steady Main Street presence,” to the point where his business is “virtually a landmark.”
“Ed has been a source of history and information for Norway Downtown through the years,” Burns said, adding that many of them viewed the shop as “welcoming and authentic.”
She mentioned that in 2015, Downeast Magazine wrote a feature article where Norway was listed as one of the best places to live in Maine, and as part of the feature, the magazine turned to Damon for an interview, citing him as an example of the prosperity of independent businesses in Norway.
In the days following his death, the Facebook page of Ed’s Barber Shop was inundated with messages from residents and former customers, with many calling Damon a “wonderful man” and lamenting the loss of “an institution in Norway.”