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Not horrible bosses!

By the Beard

An Eastern Panhandle father of three found business inspiration at the end of his chin.


Photographed by Nikki Bowman

Eric Young has always had an entrepreneurial mind. He started his first business when he was just eight years old, growing and selling pumpkins and gourds door-to-door. When he got older, Young started building houses and ran an auto fiberglass shop. 

Things fell apart during the Great Recession, however. Young lost the fiberglass business and spent a few years scrounging up contracting work before finally landing a job as a maintenance worker at the National Guard armory in Martinsburg. He gave up any ambitions of being a businessman. He couldn’t take the risks anymore—his wife Christina died in May 2009, leaving him to support their three children. Still, he needed to find a way to make a little extra income, to supplant the kids’ survivor benefits when those checks eventually stopped coming.

He happened upon an idea. It grew right out of his face. “Ever since I’ve been old enough to grow a beard, I always grew a beard in the fall and let it go to early spring,” he says. Young usually kept his beard neatly trimmed but in winter 2013 he decided to let it go au naturel and see what happened. When his whiskers started getting dry, he turned to the Internet for help. He found conditioning oil that promised to bring life back to his beard, but was aghast at the price—a one-ounce bottle cost $20. “I thought, ‘I’ll just do this for myself.’”

Mountaineer Brand's products now ship all around the world. After paying about $50 for bottles and ingredients, Young spent hours researching and testing formulas for beard oil. He listed the finished product—by now carrying a homemade label bearing the name “Mountaineer Brand”—on eBay and Amazon. Within just four months, Young’s profits far exceeded those survivor benefits.

Young expanded the product line to include beard balms, beard washes, and other personal care products. When the operation outgrew his kitchen, Young built a separate shop on his property—only to add an extension just four months later as demand continued to grow. By July 2015, he was able to quit his job at the armory. “I got to where I sucked at both jobs and I decided one had to go,” he says.

In addition to a booming online business, Mountaineer Brand makes its products available at Tamarack, The Greenbrier, and Stonewall Resort as well as some grocery stores in northern Virginia. Young has also signed agreements with companies to distribute Mountaineer Brand products in Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Canada, and Russia.

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Father's Day,

FAIRMONT, W.Va. -- If you believe the mainstream media, the White House, the greeting card industry and the city of Spokane, Wash., today is the 100th anniversary of Father's Day.

But the fine people of this town 90 miles south of Pittsburgh have a different story to tell -- one about the beginning of Father's Day here 102 years ago.

"We continue to make the claim and stake out the claim that while we don't get national recognition for the beginning of Father's Day, we have proof ... that Fairmont observed the first Father's Day service in the world," said the Rev. D.D. Meighen, a retired minister who has researched the subject extensively.

The sign on the way into Fairmont proclaims "Welcome to Fairmont -- the Friendly City -- Home of the First Father's Day Service."

The story of Fairmont's first Father's Day is also the story of the worst mine disaster in American history, at the Monongah Mine about five miles from Fairmont.

On Dec. 6, 1907, a methane gas explosion caused fires and cave-ins that blocked exits from the mine, trapping and killing 362 men and leaving more than 1,000 children fatherless.

The impact on nearby Fairmont was devastating: "All Hope Is Gone," read the headline on the next day's Fairmont Times. The Fairmont Free Press noted that "There was not a town resident who did not feel the concussion."

As the town grappled with ways to help families affected by the explosion, a woman named Grace Golden Clayton came up with the idea for a church service to commemorate fathers.

"All those lonely children and those heart-broken wives and mothers, made orphans and widows in a matter of a few minutes," she was quoted as saying by former Marion County historian Glenn Lough. "Oh, how sad and frightening to have no father, no husband, to turn to at such an awful time."

Mrs. Clayton's own father had died in 1890, and she still missed him immensely. So she planned the service at the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church for July 5, 1908 -- the Sunday closest to her father's birthday.

She may also have been inspired by the first observation of Mother's Day, held two months before in Grafton, W.Va., just 20 miles from Fairmont.

But while Grafton has received popular credit for the creation of Mother's Day, Spokane usually is recognized as the place Father's Day started.

There, a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd came up with the idea for a celebration to honor her father, who raised her and her five younger brothers after her mother died.

She intended for her Father's Day event to be held near her father's birthday on June 5, but the town's pastors wanted more time to prepare. So on June 19, the Ministerial Alliance and the Spokane YMCA celebrated their first Father's Day.

Meanwhile, in Fairmont -- also the birthplace of pepperoni rolls and Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton -- the first Father's Day sermon had been somewhat overshadowed.

"The reason that Fairmont doesn't get national recognition," said Rev. Meighen, "is because of two events that happened the day before."

To celebrate July 4, Fairmont had held its largest public event in history, when 12,000 people gathered to watch a tightrope walker and a hot air balloon. Later that evening, a young and popular member of the Williams Memorial Church, Lucy Billingslea, died after a "critical illness."

And so distracted by other events, said Rev. Meighen, "no one felt the desire to follow through to convince the city of Fairmont or the state of West Virginia to issue a proclamation establishing an annual Father's Day -- an unfortunate omission."

The day is now quite meaningful to the city of Fairmont, with past observances including the performance of a commissioned play, the display of a special quilt and other activities. But Rev. Meighen has been surprised to find that it didn't seem to make quite as much of an impression on Mrs. Clayton herself.

In all of his historical research, he said, he hasn't found any of her family members who recall her mentioning the event to them.

Though Williams Memorial did not have a Father's Day sermon the next year, it did have annual sermons dating at least back to 1917, he said. For reasons he hasn't been able to figure out, the service was moved to the third Sunday in June.

Year by year, the idea of a nationally recognized Father's Day slowly gained steam in the early part of the 20th century, with President Calvin Coolidge recognizing Father's Day in 1924 and urging states to do so as well.

Fairmont's role in hosting the first Father's Day service was nearly forgotten until the 1960s, when Congress began to discuss the establishment of an official Father's Day holiday.

In 1962, Fairmont resident Ward Downs wrote a letter to then-Rep. Arch Moore sharing his memories of Fairmont's Father's Day service.

"I recall the occasion very distinctly as the pulpit was decorated by having ripened sheaves of wheat placed about it," he wrote.

In 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a bill assigning the nation's official Father's Day holiday to the third Sunday of June -- not the first one in July, as had originally been observed in Fairmont.

The July date was likely too close to the July 4 holiday, Rev. Meighen noted.

Mr. Downs, who has since died, embarked on a campaign for national recognition of Fairmont's role in establishing Father's Day -- succeeding in 1984 in getting Hallmark cards to send a letter recognizing Fairmont's observance.

Williams Memorial was razed in 1922 when a new church, Central United Methodist, was built a block away, at the intersection of Fairmont Avenue and Third Street.

In the mid-1980s, plaques and historical markers were placed on the church sites commemorating the role of Williams Memorial in starting Father's Day. Every year on this day, the Sunday sermon features the story.

Rev. Meighen, former pastor of Central United Methodist, created a Father's Day room on the second floor of the church, filled with newspaper articles, pictures and memorabilia commemorating the event. Outside the room is a Hall of History with more information about Father's Day and the church.

In part for his work on Father's Day, he won a West Virginia History Heroes award.

"Being a history major in college, I wanted to keep the tradition alive," he said. "Spokane is given credit for making Father's Day a national holiday, but Fairmont is the place where Father's Day originated."

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What does being natural have to do with Barbados?

As I sit through another rainy day in WV. I am dreaming of warm and sunny days. All this rain and chilly weather is playing havoc on my joints. I have been seeing a lot of research on natural anti-inflammatory agents. One that keep popping up was turmeric. What does turmeric have to do with Barbados? Fish cakes are served at elegant cocktail parties and rustic rum shops throughout the Caribbean, the latter being three or four times the size of the former. As health conscious as we are all trying to be, hot fish cakes passed around at a gathering go like smoke in the wind. They are also popular as a take-away item, with the tell-tale grease stains seeping through the little brown paper bags they are often sold in.  The sauce is the best part of the treat. The secret ingredient is turmeric. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a culinary spice that spans cultures - it is a major ingredient in Indian curries, and makes American mustard yellow. But evidence is accumulating that this brightly colored relative of ginger is a promising disease-preventive agent as well, probably due largely to its anti-inflammatory action.

When examining the research, turmeric benefits go beyond that of these 10 drugs:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Anti-depressants (Prozac)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Anti-coagulants (Aspirin)
  • Pain killers
  • Diabetes drugs (Metformin)
  • Arthritis medications
  • Inflammatory bowel disease drugs
  • Cholesterol drugs (Lipitor)
  • Steroids

So moral to the story is:  I need to be Barbados eating fish cakes!

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Why do bugs like you more?

Are you often the tasty treat for mosquitos? Do you seem to attract blood suckers more than others?

It is not all in your head.

Blood type, metabolism, exercise, shirt color and even drinking beer can make individuals especially delicious to mosquitoes.

If you are Type O blood type you will get bitten twice as often as people with other blood types.
Mosquitos love people who are sweating. When you are sweating you are secreting Lactic Acid. This triggers the mosquitos to attack.
If you drink just one 12 oz. beer you will more than likely to be bitten more. Why? Because it increases your body temperature making you sweat.
Mosquitoes use vision (along with scent) to locate humans, so wearing colors that stand out (black, dark blue or red) may make you easier to find,
If you are deeply concerned at this point do not worry. Mountaineer Brand is here to help:

Handmade in West Virginia, Granny Vicars' Insect Repellent is a DEET free, family-friendly alternative to the harsh chemicals in most Insect Repellents. Dispense a few drops in your hand and apply directly to exposed skin, rubbing it in thoroughly.  


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Why Go Natural?

Why put toxins in your body?

Our skin absorbs some of what gets put on it. How much actually gets absorbed is a topic for another day. Either way, I don’t want to put chemicals on my skin.

We also ingest products through the mouth – as with lip balms. Sprays and powders can be inhaled. Hand creams can be ingested when we eat with our hands.

Sticking to plant-based, natural products will reduce your toxic chemical intake.

 We are Exposed to so Many Chemicals Everyday

Men are exposed to less chemicals daily, but on average men use 6 products a day, possibly exposing them  up to 80 chemicals a day.

We would be so much better off if we could lower this number significantly.

 These Chemicals are Reeking Havoc on your Endocrine System

Phtalates and Parabens are known endocrine disruptors. Over-consumption can lead to reproductive troubles.

Many chemicals in personal care products have been shown to increase the risk of cancer. . Formaldehyde – a know carcinogen is lurking in many personal care products. Remember the smell of the frogs you dissected in science class? They were sealed in formaldehyde. Why would you put that on your skin?

No skin allergies

If you have allergies, recurring skin rashes (or eczema), itchy or dry skin, or even very oily skin, then you might be worsening the problem by using products with certain chemicals and additives. Organic skin care provides a natural way for you to cleanse your skin and hair.  If you have very sensitive skin, natural hair care and skin care products might even help prevent outbreaks of rashes or skin redness and irritation.

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