The red stripe signifies blood

19 10 2010

Did you know that barbers once pulled teeth?

I learned that this week. I’m working on a licensing case involving barber shops and I have been researching the history of  barbers. They have a colorful past.


In the Middle Ages, monks and priests – as the most educated people in society – became the physicians of the period. One of the most common treatments for curing a variety of illnesses was bloodletting. The clergy enlisted barbers to assist them with this practice.

The rise of barber-surgeons

In 1163, Pope Alexander III forbade the clergy from drawing blood because it was sacrilegious. At that point, barbers took over the duties. They continued the practice of bloodletting, performed minor surgery and pulled teeth. For centuries, dentistry was performed only by barbers and for more than a thousand years they were known as “barber-surgeons.”

The red stripe on the barber pole represents bloody bandages

The symbol of the barber-surgeon was the striped barber pole that we still see today. The pole is thought to represent the staff that the patient would hold tightly in order for the veins in the arm to stand out during bloodletting. The white bandages used to stop bleeding were hung on the staff to dry. The stained bandages would then twist around the pole in the breeze, forming a red and white pattern. One interpretation of the colors of the modern barber pole is that red represents the blood, blue the veins, and white the bandages.

Do you just have to know more? For more interesting facts about the history of barbers, I recommend the textbook used by all barber students in Texas, which is Milady’s Standard: Professional Barbering.


Turning away help delivered on a silver platter

9 08 2010

Sophocles said “Chance never helps those who do not help themselves.” Those thoughts were illustrated beautifully at a recent administrative hearing for an electrician whose license is on the line because of his serial run-ins with the law.

The state took a chance on him

The Department of Licensing and Regulation gave the electrician a license in March 2009. It did so despite knowledge that he had a criminal history including these seven convictions:

• robbery with bodily injury in 1982

• misdemeanor theft by check in 1998

• misdemeanor assault with injury 2000

• misdemeanor assault with injury 2001

• misdemeanor assault with injury 2001

• misdemeanor assault with injury 2001

• misdemeanor theft 2007

According to testimony of a TDLR investigator, the agency issued the license despite the convictions because it “was willing to take a chance on” the electrician.

He did not help himself

But after he was licensed, the electrician was convicted of three more crimes:

• felony theft in May 2009

• misdemeanor theft in June 2009

• felony theft in November 2009

The new convictions were more than the TDLR could bear. So it moved to revoke his license and the electrician requested a hearing.

The law

A licensing agency may revoke the license of a person who has been convicted of a crime that directly relates to the duties and responsibilities of the occupation. And the TDLR has determined that theft directly relates to the duties of an electrician.

In this case, the administrative law judge found that the TDLR’s action was justified and she agreed that the electrician’s license should be revoked.

To find out more about the case, see the Proposal for Decision in SOAH Docket NO. 452-10-3391.ELC at

Making sure your house is wired but your electrician isn’t

25 07 2010

Should the state renew the license of an electrician who has been caught stealing copper wire to support his methamphetamine habit? Maybe so, according to the recent decision of an Administrative Law Judge.

Caught stealing three times

The electrician pled guilty to stealing wire from lampposts in August and September 2008. He also pled guilty to breaking into a locked storage shed to steal a bicycle in January 2009.

Supporting a meth habit

When the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation learned about his crimes, it tried to revoke his professional license to work as an electrician in Texas. He requested a hearing at the State Office of Administrative Hearings. At that hearing, he admitted that he was not working at the time of the thefts because he was abusing methamphatemine and, therefore, could not keep a steady job.

But he is no threat to public safety now

But he also explained that he had entered, and still resided in, a drug treatment facility and he claimed that he had not abused methamphetamine in more than a year.

The judge considered the electrician’s testimony along with favorable testimony and letters from his chemical dependency counselor and others who know him. She concluded that the electrician has rehabilitated in the 18-month period since the thefts and no longer is a threat to public safety. Therefore, she recommended that he be allowed to retain his license.

But the TDLR has the last word.  And as of the date of this posting, TDLR records show that the electrician’s license has expired and has not been renewed.

For more information about the case, go to SOAH’s website at and see the Proposal for Decision in SOAH Docket No. 452-10-1268.ELC.

— D. Swanson