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Saturday, February 07, 2015


Forgotten School
Every so often, something surfaces that tells a tale of a long forgotten business. Such is the case of the Wilbro School of Beauty Culture.

A book was offered to me by Henrietta of Henrietta’s Attic that really intrigued me. There are history books of Salisbury and Wicomico County and I probably have them all. I even have some books that were written by local residents, both present and past. But this was a text book. It had a copyright of 1939 and consisted of 349 pages with 19 sources referenced in the bibliography. The hardbound edition was titled “Standard Textbook on Cosmetology”. On the title page, under the title, was the explanation that it was “A practical course on the scientific fundamentals of beauty culture for students and practicing cosmetologists”. Along with the 1939 copyright, the only printing on the page was at the bottom of the page. Here is where it really got interesting. It boldly proclaimed “Wilbro School of Beauty Culture, 112 Main Street, Salisbury, Maryland”. The 1940 Salisbury City Directory lists the school at 112 Main St. (now 108 W. Main St.) in the Whealton Building with a phone number of 632 and Ralph A. Williams as the managing director.

Other interesting facts about the book are the notations made inside the front cover. The name of Mary Louise Fields on the right hand page could have been the name of the owner. There is an address of 1008 E. Church St. on the left side. That address is now 716 E. Church St. (the street numbers were changed in Nov. 1952). I could find no listing for a Fields at that address, but I did find a listing for a Wood S. Fields at 1006 E. Church St. (now 712 E. Church St.) in the 1944 Salisbury phone book.

Also written in the front pages were the names of two local businesses: Dixon Jewelry Store and Ralph and Gaskill’s Men’s Shop. The date of October 17, 1940 was noted on the inside of the cover.

I can find no other reference to the Wilbro School. There is no listing in the 1934 Salisbury City Directory nor in the 1944 Salisbury phone book. Why was this business that saw fit to print a 349-page textbook so short-lived? Maybe the owner entered the military after 1940, and that is the reason for the discontinuance of the school. A textbook is usually the sign of some sort of permanence, but that seems not to be the case here. Maybe the textbook was a standard printing, and the name of the Wilbro School of Beauty Culture with its address was added as a sales tool for the publisher.

Sometimes the finding of an artifact or document leaves more questions than answers. This may be one of those cases. 


Anonymous said...

So Rt 13 created East and West Main Streets in year? My guess is that the railroad bridge came along shortly after dual Rt 13 was carved through Salisbury.I can't recall exactly what date is on that bridge,but 1954 comes to mind.Great post George.

Anonymous said...

George ,
I know we are getting up in aqe ,
but my eye sight is still pretty good.
What's with the very large print?
Good post anyway!

Anonymous said...

10:47-You can minimize the print size if it's way too big for you.