WINTERSVILLE - Frank Luckino is "hair" to stay when it comes to being a barber.
He's marking more than 50 years in the business with no intentions of hanging up his clippers.
"I'll die behind a chair," he said with a laugh, having just finished giving the Rev. Dennis Gang of the Franciscan University of Steubenville a haircut in recent days.
Frank Luckino, who is marking more than 50 years as a barber, gives the Rev. Dennis Gang of the Franciscan University of Steubenville a trim at RBI Barber Shop located at 115 Springdale Ave., Wintersville.
-- Janice Kiaski
Luckino owns RBI Barber Shop which has been located at 115 Springdale Ave. for about 13 years now. It's in what was a house he owned and converted into the barber shop - a house with actually two family businesses under one roof as son Joe Luckino operates Cedar One Property Management there.
Despite that, there's a homey, laidback feel to the place.
Frank's dog Lux and Joe's dog Mika are close at hand, part welcome wagon, part protection, they joke. And the kitchen in between the business spaces gives Frank an opportunity to do something else he enjoys aside from cutting hair and chatting with customers.
"I cook while I'm not busy," he said. "I make my own spaghetti sauce."
The aroma of that, apparently, makes patrons not just interested in a fresh cut, but hoping for a sample of sauce, too.
A native of Wellsville, Luckino got into barbering at the encouragement/suggestion of his older brother Jim Luckino, who already was cutting hair in Midland, Pa.
"He talked me into it," said Luckino, who began his studies at barber school in Pittsburgh while he was still a junior at Wellsville High School, then finishing his senior year.
He barbered about 10 years in Midland. "Then I went to beauty school in Columbus, Ohio, so I got my cosmetology license and my barber's license. I was in Columbus maybe two to three years, and then my brother called and asked if I wanted to get together and open a unisex hair salon together," he explained.
Such was the birth of Duke and Duchess in the 1970s, a chain of salons that operated in the Fort Steuben Mall about 20 years with other locations in Weirton, East Liverpool, New Cumberland, Sandusky, Alliance, St. Clairsville and Zanesville.
"We had quite a big chain at one time," Luckino said, explaining the name was such as it catered to a female and male clientele.
"We had all those going at the same time and then eventually we just decided to get out of it," he said, noting he stuck with barbering and so did his brother who is at Bluegrass Barber Shop in Weirton.
With that end came a new beginning.
Luckino started RBI Batting Cage and Sports Center and RBI Barber Shop on Springdale Avenue, right across the street from where his barber shop is today. He was in that location for more than 10 years. That building is now home to Crossroads Christian Church.
Where he is today is where Luckino mainly does men's hair but there is an occasional female or two with short haircuts their style.
"I have been cutting hair since 1961 so it's more than 50 years (in the business) counting when I went to barber school," Luckino said.
And that span of time in the business means he's been tending to the hair-cutting needs of two or three generations.
Although Luckino's shop got a recent facelift as part of a 70th birthday present from son Joe and daughter-in-law Tiffany, some of the fixtures hint at barbering times gone by.
That would include the two porcelain barber chairs he uses, both made in Cincinnati in 1901, each weighing about 300 pounds and each with a razor sharpening strap attached to the side.
"They don't make chairs like this any more," said Luckino who considers himself "old school" when it comes to barbering and yet changing with the times.
In addition to the old barber chairs, Luckino also uses an electric hot lather machine so shaving cream goes on warm, not cold.
"A lot of men like the old-fashioned neck shave," said Luckino whose customer base includes military personnel who want their hair cut short, "and I get a lot of the younger generation that want to keep their hair long, but look clean and neat."
Dealing with the public is what Luckino has liked the most about being a barber
"I enjoy my customers," Luckino said.
And he keeps enjoying his work as well, running his own business.
"I made a good living with this and raised four kids," he said. He and his wife, the late Chris Luckino, had in addition to Joe, Magdalene, Carmen and Frank III.
"When you're in business for yourself, if you're not here, you can't make any money so you got to be here," he said.
"I just appreciate all the customers I have had over the years and how they have supported me," he said.
(Kiaski can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)