The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 4, 2008

After 50 years, salon owner still enjoys his work

BY KELLY URBAN

Angelo Verrone is a cut above the rest.

For 50 years, Verrone has been cutting and styling hair.

And if he has it his way, he’ll be clipping another 50 years.

“I tell my daughter, ‘I’m going to die with a comb in my hand,’ ” Verrone, 79, said with a chuckle.

The Southmont resident is the owner of Angelo’s Beauty Salon on Market Street in downtown Johnstown.

His road to becoming a salon owner started after he dropped out of high school in the 10th grade.

“I thought I was too smart for school,” Verrone said. “My mother was not too happy and told me I better be doing something.”

That something was enrolling in the former Mason & Felix Cosmetology School in Johnstown.

“I don’t know why I chose to get involved with this. I just did it,” Verrone said.

People typically associate women as those who get into the hair-care profession, but Verrone said there were quite a few men enrolled at the school when he was a student.

“They were there through the GI Bill,” he said.

While enrolled at the school, Verrone met his future wife, Julia, and the two continued working side by side until her death five years ago.

“We worked together all our life,” he said.

After completing his studies, Verrone went to work at Johnny’s Beauty Salon on Clinton Street and stayed for eight years.

Through the years, Verrone bounced around to different downtown Johnstown salons until establishing his own place on the corner of Market and Lincoln streets.

“We were there for 11 years, but when the 1977 Flood hit, everything was lost. It was all gone,” he said.

Yet even the devastating floodwaters couldn’t keep Verrone down. He was determined to reopen his salon.

He said he had his eye on his current salon location and was just waiting for the property to become vacant.

“In December 1977, we moved in and have been here ever since,” Verrone said. “I always knew I wanted to stay in downtown Johnstown. There was no question about it.”

Verrone calls himself a people person, and in his line of work he pretty much has to be, because talking to clients is part of the job.

“I just like being around people,” he said. “Oh, the stories I could tell you from what I’ve heard.”

“It’s like a barbershop here. You hear just about everything.”

But being in business for 50 years does have one downside – seeing clients move or pass away.

“I’ve lost lots of customers,” he said in a somber tone. “But I wouldn’t change anything because all these people will make you happy.”

The salon currently consists of Verrone and one full-time employee.

“Right now I have a part-time helper because of my recent cataract surgery,” he said.

These days, most of Verrone’s clients are older women who like to partake in some light-hearted conversation while getting their hair done.

“People coming in vary from day to day,” he said.

As for what keeps Verrone a successful businessman after all these years, he said it’s simple.

“I try to be nice to people because that goes a long way,” he said. “And of course, you have to like what you’re doing and enjoy it.”