Anthony Delia snips, trims and buzzes many heads of hair everyday in his Nanuet salon, lending an ear to his customers’ tales of laughter, woe, happiness and every emotion in between.
“When they sit in that chair, I become like a psychiatrist to them and listen to all their stories,” he said. However, Delia has an interesting story of his own before he took over in the Nanuet Thruway Plaza. Nanuet’s a long way from a place Delia once called home.
He was born and raised in Italy before coming to the U.S. at 16. He lived in the Bronx and found it lonely at first.
"The biggest change (from coming to the U.S.) was the lost of friendship and little bit of language and culture barrier,” he said. As far as missing his home country, he said yes and no. He built a new life he’s proud of in the U.S. but misses Italy’s “weather. The weather is great, and so is the relaxation over there.”
He went to P.S. (New York Public School) 45 and graduated from Roosevelt High School in the Bronx in 1966.
“After high school, I went to the military and served a year in Vietnam,” said Delia, who was a Third Army Sgt. for two years.
The first year he taught basic training in Georgia and then went to Fort Wolters near Mineral Wells in north Texas for eight months before heading off to Saigon.
“Stationed in Texas was very hot … too hot,” he said. “Then I served in Vietnam for exactly one year—Oct 19, 1967 to Oct. 19, 1968. I’ll never forget it. The temperature in Saigon is always warm, very nice people, but there were monsoons and a lot of rain. When I came out of Vietnam, I went into this profession that I ran in Italy when I was growing up.”
Hair cutting is not new to Delia.
“I went to an apprentice school in Italy. My uncle was a barber, sister was a hairdresser, brother-in-law is a barber. I come from a family of barbers. I always found it interesting. I like to deal with people artistically all day long.”
Delia added that he doesn’t miss Italy much these days and the last time he visited was 15 years ago.
“I come from a big family, five boys and five girls, some here (in America), some still in Italy.” Today, his current family is much smaller. He was married to Louise for two years, who he had a son with—Christopher. Today, Christopher and Delia’s grandson Matthew, 6, live Wilmington, NC.
After the military, he went to school for a period of time to get a license to cut hair. He then worked in New Rochelle for 20 years at George’s Hair Salon before heading over to work at his current salon for 25 years before buying it 12 years ago from the previous owner who was retiring. Before he bought it and renamed it Salon Delia, it was Maio’s Hair and Beyond Unisex Salon.
Delia recalls a fond memory from his pre-Salon Delia days. “When I turned 50, they gave me a birthday party and had a belly dancer come in. I have so many good memories. You meet so many good people all the time. Every day you meet somebody different.”
Not only does he get a variety of customers, but his staff is also very diverse.
“This is a well-rounded salon. My hairdressers come from many different backgrounds and can work with all types of hair,” he said, adding that their experience ranged from 2-15 years. “We’re all from different areas, one from Vietnam, two from Italy, everywhere. I welcome everyone from all walks of life.”
At Salon Delia, they work with women, men and kids hair as well as weddings, special occasions, birthdays and graduations.
He also has a special event for the month of February for Locks of Love. Read more about it in this article.