CLARKS SUMMIT — You can learn a lot in 62 years.
Just ask Ralph Marasco.
Marasco, 89, gave his final haircut April 28 after operating a barber shop in the Abingtons for more than 60 years.
“An area like this has a lot of people from all over the country and all over the world,” he said. “I enjoyed talking with them about their customs and habits. It’s educational and interesting. I’ve met a lot of very, very nice people and I was working on the fourth generation of a few families.”
He specifically cherishes the close relationships formed over decades of cuts and trims.
“I still had a few customers who were among my very first,” Marasco said. “You get to know families, their kids and the interesting things they do. The past four weeks everybody has been coming and getting their last haircut. It was kind of sad, because I’ll probably never see some of them again, but I’ll maintain relationships with quite a number of them.”
Marasco was introduced to barbering at a young age because his father didn’t want him to follow in his footsteps as a miner.
“My dad had a friend, Tony, who was a barber and he was looking for an apprentice,” Marasco said. “I spent about 2 1/2 years learning the trade.”
After receiving his license, Marasco wasn’t sure the profession was for him.
“I graduated and I thought that’s enough barbering,” he said.
However, after serving in the military he had a change of heart.
“I spent three years (1948-51) in the Army during the Korean War and became a staff sergeant,” Marasco said. “When I got out, I got married but I couldn’t find a job I was happy with in a factory.”
Marasco opened a barber shop in Clarks Green in 1956 and the rest is history. His latest location Ralph’s Hair Styling & Barbering, 413 S. State St., Clarks Summit, was the third during his career.
While he had chances to change his occupation, he never seriously considered giving up his clippers.
“I had opportunities,” Marasco said. “People were trying to get me to sell insurance or real estate, but I figured I’m not the type of person to go out and solicit business. I want the business to come to me.
“And, that’s what happened here.”
Even though some high-profile individuals have walked through his door, Marasco always treated each customer equally.
“I’ve met a lot of very prominent people and I’ve come to find out they are just as human as anybody else,” he said. “They’re very easy to talk to and they’re not sophisticated at all.
“Somebody once asked who my most important customer was and I said everybody pays the same price and they’re all important to me. I feel honored that I was able to spend 62 years servicing people with their hair cuts.”
In retirement, Marasco is looking forward to spending more time with his wife of 64 years, Madelyn, their three children, David, Donna and Michael, five grandchildren and two great grandsons.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.