In 1908 fifteen year old Carmine Troino left San Georgio, Italy with his older brother to try to make themselves a better life in America. The same customs broker that would not allow his brother into the country also changed Carmine’s name to Charles Turner. Mr. Turner, who could not speak English, followed other Italian immigrants to Greensburg, Pennsylvania. It was there that he came across a newspaper ad for a barber wanted at the National Tube Company in Ellwood City. Not only did he cut hair at the tube mill all day but he also would cut hair at his house on Hillside Avenue and eventually opened his own barbershop on Lawrence Avenue.
Everyday management personnel from National Tube stopped for their “shave and hair cut” (25¢ cash). These daily stops helped him get through the Great Depression and in turn he was able to help his neighbors in Little Italy. The Turners lived on the corner of Bell Avenue and Fourth Street and built several $3,000 houses on Hillside Avenue. Charles was able to send his second son Kenneth to college to pursue his desire to be a funeral director after his oldest son Gene joined Navy where he served as a radio man and as a barber. After the Navy, Gene the red headed Italian became second chair in his fathers shop.
At a time when it was common for men to get a haircut once a week, turners Barber Shop boasted six chairs and no waiting. Turners was reportedly the first barber shop in Ellwood to have a television for its customers. In 1960, Gene installed the television so his customers could watch the Pirates who were going to the World Series that year.
After developing Hodgkin’s disease in the mid-40’s, Charlie (along with some of the family) moved to California for his health. Gene stayed in Ellwood to manage the shop and his brother Kenneth also remained in the Ellwood to operate his funeral home. Not one to sit still, Turner looked around his new home in the Los Angeles area and decided the area needed a motel.
From time to time Charlie would visit Ellwood City and go into the shop, move now first chair Gene’s tools to the second chair and begin cutting hair – it was his shop. Gene would eventually own the barbershop at 405 Lawrence Avenue that he managed for his dad and where his family lived on the second floor. In 1963, Gene sold the barber shop and the former second chair moved to California to become a barber to the stars.
Gene became a barber/stylist at Cosmo Sardo’s Art Gallery, Hairstyling, and Barber Salon around the corner from the famous Schwab’s Drug Store in Hollywood. The salon/art studio was everything you can imagine complete with martinis and hors d’oeuvres for customers. Gene not only cut the movie stars hair, but he himself was in a number of Gillette commercials.
Gene’s daughter Linda Turner Tidemanson of Winnetka, California once shared that she had no choice but to be “good” during her time in Ellwood. In our small town, everyone knew her dad and everyone knew she was Gene Turners daughter so she had to behave. In 1963 Gene sold his shop to Joe DeLisio who had started working the sixth chair at the shop in 1953 while in the 10th grade at Lincoln High School.