Face in the Crowd
Woman Finds Fulfillment and Friends in 40-year Career
Having recently crept into her 60s, and with 40 years logged in her occupation, it might be expected that Linda Folmer could see retirement on the horizon. Not so.
“As long as I’m able, I’m going to keep on doing it,” says the New Cumberland woman.
“It” is cutting hair. Folmer has been at it since her early 20s. In the ensuing decades, she has developed enduring professional and personal relationships with dozens of clients.
She cites examples. “I have four ladies who I have seen every Friday morning for more than 30 years. My husband tends the garden of one, another let us use her Florida condo on a recent vacation, the third never fails to bake an apple pie for my birthday and the fourth one regards me as ‘the daughter that she never had.’”
A self-employed, licensed barber in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Folmer is one of several who plies her trade at Four Seasons Studio of Hair on Camp Hill’s Market Street.
“Just out of high school, I worked for The Barbers, a Minnesota-based company that operated three shops in the Harrisburg area,” says Folmer. “I was the shampoo girl and receptionist. But while watching the stylists at work, I decided I wanted to do that. It was in the early days of styling, when men were starting to grow longer hair.”
Her parents were not particularly happy with their daughter’s choice to drop out of Harrisburg Area Community College to pursue a new ambition.
“My dad was used to paying two dollars for a haircut and couldn’t see how I could make any money,” she recalls. “I took the nine-month course at the Harrisburg Barber School and then started to work at Headhunters.”
In 1976, Howard Rovito opened Four Seasons in Camp Hill, and Folmer joined its staff.
“We were Vito’s employees and were paid by commission,” she says. “After Vito sold the business to a new owner, my status changed to being self-employed. And the timing was right. I was able to make my own hours and, consequently, be more active in my two daughters’ lives.”
Another milestone in Folmer’s career occurred 15 years ago. She began to work part-time at the Parthemore Funeral Home in New Cumberland, styling the hair of deceased individuals for viewing services. To the inevitable question about personal comfort in such circumstances, Folmer replies, “Yes, at first it was difficult. But I adjusted. Still, I don’t enter the building to do that work without another person being there. I just feel better if someone else is nearby.”
“Generally, the hair is already shampooed, and the head slightly raised,” explains Folmer. “I’ll wet down the hair, then cut and blow dry it. I work from a photo supplied by the family. And that’s the important part of what I do at the funeral home, making the family’s loved one presentable.”
So, Folmer troops on. “I’m able to work as much, or as little as I want,” she says. “I’m a natural conversationalist, which seems to go with the job. And I’ve made a lot of friends.”