Robinson celebrates 57 years of barbering

PARKERSBURG – After 57 years of cutting hair, Emanuel F. Robinson Jr. closed his Avery Street shop in December.

Robinson, a Charleston native, has always practiced barbering in Parkersburg after his training at the School for the Deaf and Blind in Institute, W.Va., near Charleston.

Robinson, 77, came to Parkersburg in 1955 and first set up shop on Seventh Street. He said the barber business has changed since he began.

“A lot of people don’t go to barbers as much as they used to ,” he said, through his daughter Lucretia.

Now that he is retired Robinson said he is not sure what he will do with his time.

“I’ll take a vacation with my wife,” he said. “We might go to Hawaii, wherever the wife wants to go.”

Among other things is some work on his house and relaxing.

“He’s always been a people watcher, so he likes to sit back and watch,” his daughter said.

Robinson said the shop is now closed, a decision he made just before he actually closed last month.

“It was a quick decision,” he said.

Robinson said his lack of hearing did not present any particular challenges as a barber.

“In the shop people would write what they wanted on a piece of paper,” he said.

“His shop has sign language charts on the wall and the sign alphabet people can use,” his daughter said. “Everyone is really friendly to him.”

Lucretia said he did the old-time haircuts with a straight razor as well as the traditional barber shop shave.

In addition to working as a barber, Robinson worked for the U.S. Post Office in Parkersburg as a mail distribution clerk for 24 years. His sister, Ella Martin, who lives in Charleston, followed him in her career choice and is a beautician there.

Saturday’s retirement party and reception was held at The Rock Full Gospel Church in Parkersburg.

“It was a surprise for him,” Lucretia said. “I had to hide the announcement we had in the paper from him,” she said. “It was a big surprise.”

Robinson had two sons and a daughter with his first wife of 38 years. He also has two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He remarried 13 years ago.