By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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After 16½ years of old-fashioned barbering in her shop next to the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific railroad bed, now the Olympic Discovery Trail, Horner, 73, will give her last hot shave Friday.
The shave-and-a-haircut combo has been more than two bits for some time. But even at the 2014 price of $16, Horner said many of her regular customers come in just to feel the blade swipe whiskers and hot lather off their faces, followed of course by a hot towel.
“I know the shave and hot towel are the only reason I still get some of my customers in,” Horner said.
“I don't even know what to tell my customers because I'm the last place that still does shaves.”
Horner is hosting open houses through Friday for regular customers to experience one more time the purr of the Whistle Stop's hot shave machine, the gleam of a fresh straight razor and the train whistle that signals an incoming call on her steam engine telephone.
The open house at 190 Village Lane runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, with cake, cookies and hot coffee accompanying Horner's smile.
“I hate leaving all my guys. They're like family to me,” she said.
Many of those customers donated the railroad relics that will be sold off at area garage sales.
“I won't cry if you don't,” said Bob Hicks, who has had his hair cut and his beard trimmed by Horner since moving to Sequim in the late 1990s.
For now, she plans to move to Vallejo, Calif., to live near her children and their families.
Horner originally set up the Whistle Stop Barber Shop in Manette, a small town that has been absorbed by Bremerton.
Horner has been a railroad buff since she was a child growing up climbing on steam engines in Indiana while her father, a locomotive engineer, worked.
“I was the princess of the rail yard,” she remembered.
Horner said she wanted an old-timey-sounding name when she set up her barber business after attending barber school on a grant from state timber funds.
“I almost called it Joe's Tonosorial Parlor, but a friend of mine said that sounded like a house of ill-repute,” she said.
“So I thought back to my dad and the trains and came up with the Whistle Stop.”
Tiring of the soggy weather of the Bremerton area, she packed up the shop and moved to Carlsborg, where the Whistle Stop operated out of the old post office building for several years.
Before setting up her current location, Horner went mobile, packing up her scissors and razor and visiting the homes of loyal customers from Discovery Bay to Port Angeles.
“It's time to move on, but I am going to miss these guys and hearing all their stories I'll never tell,” she said.
“Maybe when I get down to California, I can put them in a book.”
“Tales from the Whistle Stop,” laughed Hicks as Horner wiped a remnant dab of lather from the tip of his ear.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.