by David Parmer
Shoes Shined: Fifteen Cents
Left: Glenn Skinner in his barber shop (Note the gas lights on the "T" as well as an electric bulb handing together froom the ceiling.)
Left: Two of Glenn's shoeshine boys: Max Hamilton and David Parmer.
Whenever the regular shoeshine boy, Max Hamilton, decided he would take Saturday off and go fishing in Oil Creek, this writer eagerly slapped the black Esquire polish on the shoes of Glenn Skinner's customers, then buff them to a marvelous shine, for which there was often a generous tip. When there were no shoes to shine, this writer was fascinated by the conversations Glenn had with his eager-to-talk customers. There is nothing like warm lather to bring out mirth or a risqué joke from the man in the barber chair and no one better than Glenn to coax an amusing anecdote from him. Some of his customers however spoke not a word in the barber chair while Glenn was clipping away and there was no coaxing a peep from them. Glenn would remark after the “Silent Cal” left, “The cat must have had his tongue,” or “His wife must have told him not to breathe of word of it.”
Right: Gideon and Sarah (Bennett) Skinner with Jennette, Genevieve, Edith and Ann, Glenn on his mother's lap.
Left: left to right, Gid Skinner with his children Edith, Genevieve, Jennette "Tom" and Glenn.
After completing barber school, Glenn joined his Uncle Billy in the latter’s barber shop in Orlando, in the Morrison Building across Clover Fork from the railroad depot. Many present day residents of Orlando who have been without the services of a home town barber for over sixty years would be surprised to know that Orlando once had a two chair barber shop and two full-time barbers. For the next few years, Glenn and “Uncle Billy” kept the hair of the men of Orlando cut and groomed with Wildroot hair crème or Lucky Tiger hair tonic, gentleman’s choice, and faces shaved and soothed with E. E. Dickinson Company’s Witch Hazel. Glenn’s daughter Peggy Morris, who now lives in Florida, recalls that her dad also gave a great “shingle-cut” to the ladies, which was the fashion of the day.
Around the mid-1930’s Glenn’s Uncle Billy decided to move his barbering trade to Weston where he barbered a few years and then later moved again to Elkins. Glenn remained in Orlando but moved his shop from the Morrison Building to a smaller building located behind the store of J. W. "Bill" Conrad and continued to give his shaves and haircuts at this shop for nearly the next twenty years.
Left above: The barbershop behind Bill Conrad's store
Left below: Lloyd "Billy" Skinner
There is Nothing like a Barber Shop
Barbering in Burnsville
Right: Virgina (McCoy) and Glenn Skinner (Note the nice shine on Glenn's shoes!)
Glenn Skinner was an inveterate practical jokester. A frequent target of his jokes was Max Hamilton who shined shoes in Glenn’s Barber Shop in Burnsville during the early 1950’s. On one occasion Glenn told Max that he was going to re-paint his barber pole which was attached to the outside of the barber shop. Glenn told Max to go next door to Marple’s Store and get a bucket of red and white striped paint so he could start painting the barber pole. As a good lad who was used to minding his elders, Max went to Marple’s Store and asked for a can of striped paint. It is unknown whether Max was humoring Glenn, or whether he really did believe there was such a thing as striped paint. On other occasions, Glenn sent Max to Marple’s Store to get a “sky hook” and a “check stretcher.”
Left: Glenn Skinner's barber's license. Click on it to enlarge it.
Until 1934, anyone with or without a steady hand could be a barber in West Virginia. Probably with a means of producing revenue (taxes) more so than safety and health considerations, the West Virginia Legislature in 1934 passed a law requiring that all barbers or beauticians be licensed and be required to pay an annual license fee. By 1934, Glenn Skinner had been a barber for seven years and his uncle Lloyd “Billy” Skinner had been barbering much longer. Both Glenn and Billy applied for and were granted their West Virginia barbering license, which was renewed annually thereafter as can be seen from the renewal cards.