Separated by war, childhood friends meet by chance 60 years later

By JOHN CASTELLUCCIO | The Salem News, Mass. | Published: August 19, 2014

SALEM, Mass. (MCT) — Who knew a haircut would be such a big deal?

Sherwin Finn and Elliot Ganz, both 82, grew up together in Everett, joined the U.S. Air Force in 1951 and went through eight weeks of basic training together — and then never saw each other again until 60 years later, outside a barbershop in Peabody.

“It’s amazing. When people hear that, they can’t believe something like that would ever happen. Here we are good friends at age 20, and then after basic training, we never saw each other again,” Finn said.

“So, whoever he meets, he tells his story, and I hear it again and again and again,” his wife, Beverly, added with a smile.

Both men served in Korea during the war, but in different places.

Ganz stayed in the area after the war, and he and his wife had three children. He worked as a letter carrier in Malden for 31 years and then worked at Filene’s and Macy’s after retiring from the post office. They’ve lived in West Peabody for 49 years.

Finn, on the other hand, just returned to the area with his wife two years ago. After the war, he went to college for a degree in accounting, met his wife, bought a house lot in Malden and had two kids. Their daughter was a budding Broadway star and won a part in “Annie.” The family frequently traveled to New York for shows and auditions, and as the kids grew up, they sold the house and settled in New York.

They lived there for 25 years but had moved about to other parts of the country. Then, two years ago, the elderly couple decided to come home after more than 50 years. They settled in Danvers.

One morning, Finn, in search of a haircut at his wife’s behest, was told by his brother to go to Gene’s Barber Shop on Lowell Street. He drove over and pulled up outside the shop around 7:45 a.m. Gene’s wasn’t open yet, so Finn decided to sit in his car and wait. Just then, another customer pulled up next to Finn. As they waited, the two men got to talking and discovered they grew up near each other and knew the same people.

Then, Ganz asked if he ever knew Sherwin Finn.

“That’s my name,” Finn replied, shocked. “My name is Sherwin Finn. Omigod, who are you?”

“I’m Elliot Ganz.”

“After 60 years, we didn’t recognize each other,” Finn said.

Two years later, Finn is still amazed as he tells the story. “Luckily, I had needed a haircut that day,” he said, chuckling.

The two men quickly resumed a close friendship, and their wives — Beverly and Lorraine — are now best friends, too.

“We try to look after each other,” Ganz added.

Ganz, whose son is a comedian, jokes that his son’s humor rubs off on him. “I hate accidents,” he said. “After 60 years, I have to meet this guy. If it wasn’t for my bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.”

“If I didn’t need a haircut that day, we probably never would have seen each other again,” Finn said.

“I would have been so happy,” Ganz quipped.


©2014 The Salem News (Beverly, Mass.) Visit The Salem News (Beverly, Mass.) at www.salemnews.com, Distributed by MCT Information Services.



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