A visit to longtime Marble Hill barber Roosevelt “Rosey” Spivey had Rep. Charles Rangel waxing nostalgic on Saturday afternoon.
“You have that old fashioned, sweet-smelling tonic?” the congressman asked as Mr. Spivey deftly employed an electric razor.
“Oh, yeah,” the barber replied, procuring a green bottle of Jeris Hair Tonic.
“That’s it! Son of a gun,” Mr. Rangel said. “Makes me think of the old days.”
On most weekends, Mr. Spivey’s Marble Hill International Unisex Salon, located at 151 W. 228th St., is bustling with customers and visitors who come to chat. Mr. Rangel’s visit to the neighborhood packed the barbershop to overflowing with passersby eager for a glimpse of the congressman whose district has included Marble Hill and parts of the northwest Bronx since 2012.
Mr. Rangel’s opponents in the September Democratic primary have sought to portray him as out of touch with this part of the 13th congressional district. But the congressman was at his ease while speaking with Mr. Spivey, his clients and others during the visit.
After giving Mr. Spivey a House of Representatives declaration making May 24 Marble Hill International Unisex Salon Day, Mr. Rangel, 83, alluded to the group of younger politicians seeking to unseat him.
“I don’t want to shatter your ambitions,” he said to barber Garfield Myrie, 44. “But if you’re waiting for Rosey to retire, I don’t know how long that’s going to be.”
The line drew loud laughter from people in the barbershop. After the congressman posed for photos with several people, visited a corner store and drove off to events in Upper Manhattan, a group of women waiting for a haircut reflected on Mr. Rangel’s appearance.
“It’s nice he didn’t come here and just leave,” said Riverdale resident Marcia Callender. “He actually came and got a haircut. I think that speaks a lot about him really trying to connect with the community.”
Earlier Saturday, Mr. Rangel held a closed-door meeting at the Ft. Independence Houses with members of the tenants association.