Lowcountry barber shop remembers Joe Paterno

ALVIN, SC (WCSC) - When you first walk into Tommy Kinlaw's Barber Shop in Alvin, the first thing you will notice is his "Wall of Fame."  The area is decorated with newspaper clippings, pictures and magazine covers. It tells the stories of the men from the area who went on to play football on the national stage.

"We live football in this area," said Tommy Kinlaw, owner of the shop for over 41 years. "Whenever a game is over, whenever a mistake is made on the field, they're going to hear it when they get here."

The building on Santee River Road is half barber shop, half training camp. Kinlaw bought a weight bar and a set of dumb bells for high school kids to work out on because the small town had no recreation center years ago. Players like Courtney Brown, Joe Hamilton and Rodney Kinlaw Jr. all got their start right in the barber shop.

"They would work out here after school every day.  Football was always the topic of conversation," Kinlaw said.

Eventually, Penn State coach Joe Paterno caught wind of the mini-football camp going on in the shop and decided to pay the place a visit, Kinlaw recalls.

"They hopped out of the car and I was like 'Wow,' it was Joe Paterno and Bill Kennedy," he said.

Local football star Courtney Brown was already playing for the Nittany Lions at the time and Paterno was looking to recruit Kinlaw's nephew, Rodney.

"He was an ordinary guy. Wearing a tweed jacket, tweed pants, white Penn State shoes," said Jeffery Kinlaw, relative of Rodney and Tommy.

Kinlaw said he tried to teach young boys that came by his shop the same thing Paterno taught in the locker room.

"They all loved football. We always told them the sky is the limit.  If someone else can do it, so can you," Kinlaw said.

Brown and Kinlaw Jr. played at Penn State under Paterno. Paterno died Sunday following a battle with lung cancer. He was 85.

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