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THE NETHERLANDS: De Wonderkapper

3 minute read

The village of Een (pop. 900) used to be just another quiet hamlet in the northern Netherlands. By last week Een had become a bustling mecca for 1,500 once desperate, now hopeful people. Bicycles were stacked up against a lilac tree in the village; cars from every Dutch province thronged the narrow main road. Rich or poor, they all came to be treated by Een’s Wonderkapper (miracle barber), who grows hair on bald heads.

Een’s famous barber is Marinus van Rooijen, 49, who attributes his success to a secret fluid. His first patient was a young farmer named Klaas Tolner, who now has three inches of gleaming blond hair on his once egg-bald pate. “It’s been cut three times already,” Klaas grinned last week. “Now the girls will look at me again.”

Another young farmer named Derek Naves has a promising stubble after four months of treatment. Derek lives in Vars-seveld, 75 miles from Een. Once a week he gets up at 4 o’clock and starts his arduous pilgrimage—an hour by bike, an hour by bus, two hours by train, another half-hour by bus, and then a last 20 minutes on the bike. Twenty-nine bald and bewigged girls, taking van Rooijen’s treatments, have sought out household jobs in Een. As a result Een, unlike the rest of Holland, has no servant shortage.

Van Rooijen charges 350 guilders ($132) for a course of treatments. He does not claim success in every case; he promises to refund the fee (less 1 guilder per treatment for the first six weeks) if, after a year, there is no “clearly visible” growth of hair. The procedure is to brush the patient’s scalp, apply the secret fluid, then brush the scalp again. Van Rooijen will not allow an analysis of his formula by Dutch medical men, who are skeptical of his claims.* If the doctors want to see results, says the barber sharply, let them look at his customers’ heads.

So much mail is pouring in from eager baldheads abroad that van Rooijen’s wife has started a stamp collection. The barber already has seven girls helping him in the shop at Een. Later this month he plans to branch out; his son will open a ten-chair shop in Amsterdam.

Says Miss Annie, one of the girls helping van Rooijen: “Who would have thought men were so vain?”

* In the U.S., which has about 10 million bald or balding men, leading dermatologists say that the condition has many causes, some known, some not, some curable, some not. For ordinary baldness in which the hair follicles die, they say the best “cure” is a toupee or wig. For baldness due to trichotillomania (the compulsion to tear the hair out), the best cure is to stop tearing the hair out.

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