Bill White shaved a clean white band of scalp right above the ears of one of his barbershop customers, totally unconcerned about the 10 feet of snow that have fallen outside his window during the past two months.
Nor was White, a barber here for 52 of his 69 years, bothered by the howling winds that have recently pushed the wind chill factor down to 60 degrees below zero serveral times.
"This isn't anything like the snows of '36," said White, switching to the scissors to take a little off the top. "Then we had drifts covering telephone poles. People used horses to pull snowplows. If you didn't remember where you left your car at night you couldn't find it in the morning," he said.
Despite White's barbershiop-calm about the weather, the unusual combination of heavy snow, cold weather, has slowed life down considerably for the 23,000 residents of this westermost county in Maryland.
Although most roads are clear and homes have fuel, a few homeowners have found themselves snowbound by barn-high drifts, and some are forced to use coal and wood heat instead of oil.
County schools have been open for only two days since Christmas, and the school year may be extended well into the summer to make up for lost time.
About 300 more people have been put on the unemployment rolls here since the weather forced a halt to construction and sawmill operations. One major company has been cut off from its supply of natural gas.
In this rural county, such events can have a major impact.
The 695 miles oc county roads that are constantly being cleared by an army of snowplows are often snowdusted moments later by wind gusts that reduce visibility to a few feet in seconds.
Despite the problems, however, life here - in an area so removed from the rest of Maryland that residents get their weather information from Pittsburgh - moves on.
For example, at the Starlight Motel Restaurant, Colleen Eddy, 14, explains that while her mother is snowlocked in her outlying home, she is snowed out of it. She has been staying with friends in Oakland for eight days. Her biggest concern, however, is not the classes she is missing, but whether future Southern High School basketball games will be canceled. Colleen is a cheerleader.
In nearby Accident, Md., Nancy Graham, 34, acted as a midwife Monday afternoon when she forced her way to the snowbound home of a pregnant friend and discovered the woman was in labor. "I told her to bear down, and clamped off the cord after she whack to start it crying," said Graham, a mother of five who has had paramedic training. Mother, son, and midwife are doing fine.
"The people around here are self-reliant, and are used to the snow," said W. Marshall Rickert, the county administrator.
"Most of the people have lived here all their lives, and nothing surprises them," he said. "Three years ago we were without electrical power for more than a week, and that was really something. What makes this year different is that we are getting the snow, the cold, and the wind all at the same time. The people here know how to cope," he said.
The predominantly German-American residents of a county that still revels in the 1930's semi-pro baseball exploits of Ray (Pickle) Sowers and Ernest (Bang) Colaw has seemingly developed coping to a high art.
"We always try to drive with a full tank of gas, battery jumper cables, and wear a lot of warm clothing," said Charles F. Meyer, 48, owner of C & M Pontiac Sales, who has spent a lot of time recently pulling residents and tourists alike out of car-high snowdrifts. "I've taken people into my house at 2 in the morning when I've found them stuck in the snow - we all have. Hell, you've got to be friendly out here," he said.
Mailman Jim Rowk stamped his feet against the cold and said that he'd invited some friends over for a shower pipes in their home froze. "Just a way of being neighborly," he explained. As for the mail, "We deliver it when we can and when we can't we deliver it the next day," he said.
Dairyman Richard W. Helbig, 32, uses a snow blower to keep roads to his isolated Loch Lyne farm clear for the trucks that take the milk from his cows to market. "If they can't get in I lose money," he explained.
When the weather gets so cold that the ventilators in his barn freeze up - as they did Tuesday - he opens the doors so the cows won't get pneumonia, although the temperatures then drop below freezing. "Whenever it snows you work 20 hours a day," he said, as steam rose off his cows. "But what are you going to do?"
The economy of Garrett County is nearly evenly divided between farming, light industry, and tourism, with a work force that totals nearly 10,000 people, according to Thomas D. Jones, director of the county's Economic Development Department.
The area's budding ski industry - so new it is usually ignored in surveys of Maryland's recreational facilities - has been "booming" because of the heavy snows, which was expected to continue through March, he said.
At the Wisp ski area, office manager Bill Cook said that while 100 people use the slopes on weekdays, 1,800 use them on Saturdays - an increase of nearly 20 per cent from Saturdays a year ago, he said.
The county's 165 road maintenance employees are also experiencing an upsurge in business because of the unusually heavy snows. Some of them are working 12 to 18 hors a day trying to keep the roads open, a spokesman said.
However, 1,000 persons are now collecting unemployment compensation, compared to 700 before the storms, according to Mary Browning, manager of the state's Human Resources Department in Oakland, the county seat.
One hundred workers were recently laid off from the Harbison Walker manufacturing plant, which lost its supply of natural gas. Others worked in saw mill, construction, and strip mining jobs, she said.
Life here has been made more difficult by the snows that pile into 18-foot drifts, and by the icy wind that slips through even the tighest storm windows, but it is not the end of the world.
"Oh, I'll get by all right. There's the wood and coal stoves for warmth," said Mary Teets, 59, the town's renowned baker of sticker rolls and donuts who is snowbound at her elderly mother's home. "I can't bake, though - these stoves are too unreliable," she said.
"I've been out of kerosene for 10 days, and we'd freeze if it weren't for the coal stove," said Gary Glotfelty, 33. "I haven't worked for two weeks because of the roads, but I'm not going to collect unemployment," added Glotfelty, a truck driver and father of two. "It doesn't pay much and I don't make much when I work anyway," he said.