Anyone who grew up in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding areas in the 1950’s through the 1970’s would have heard about the man dubbed Charlie No Face, known more popularly outside the area as the Green Man. The various tales of the Green Man reached such legendary proportions in western Pennsylvania that he was placed on same scale as the Boogeyman. But who was man behind the legend – the so-called Green Man?
Well, he was once a boy named Raymond T. “Ray” Robinson, born in Beaver County on Saturday, October 29, 1910, to Robert Robinson and Louise H. “Lula” (Winnail) Robinson. His father Robert was born in July 1881, was the son of James and Sarah Robinson, had two brothers and a sister, was raised in Big Beaver Township, and worked in a sandstone quarry. His mother Lula was born in July 1881, was the daughter of Fred and Sarah Winnail, lost her mother as a teenager, had five siblings, and grew up in New Brighton. Robert and Lula were married in about 1906.
A young Ray grew up in Morado just north of Beaver Falls proper. In 1917, when he was seven years old, his father died and his mother subsequently married her brother-in-law Orin N. Robinson. Orin was Ray’s uncle and his dad’s older brother. Together Orin and Lula raised a total of six or seven children who all enjoyed a typical childhood.
The course of Ray’s life would soon be drastically altered. On a typical summer day on Wednesday, June 18, 1919, eight-year-old Ray and four of his friends were headed to (or from) a swimming hole when they came upon the Morado Bridge. The bridge carried the Harmony Short Line trolley over Wallace Run and into its dead end station at Morado, where passengers could connect with another streetcar system and continue south into downtown Beaver Falls. Ray apparently accepted a dare to climb up the bridge and check out a bird’s nest the boys had spied up high. Upon climbing up a section of the bridge Ray came in contact with a high voltage wire and was electrocuted. In a flash he was severely burned and thrown backwards. The other boys ran for help and Ray was soon transported to Providence Hospital in Beaver Falls.
His injuries were considerable as he suffered severe burns from the waist up and his face was severely mutilated. His eyes were burned away, his nose was just a hole, his mouth and one ear were disfigured, and he lost his left arm at the elbow. He could still talk but it was hard to understand his garbled speech. His injures were significant but he somehow managed to survive. He underwent a lengthy series of operations in Pittsburgh in an attempt to restore his body as much as possible.
After a long recovery a blinded and horribly scarred Ray, who was actually in good spirits, returned home to start a new life. In about 1920 his family, with whom he would live with for the rest of his days, moved to a new home in Big Beaver Township. I believe the family home was located on Mount Street just outside the limits of Koppel, where Ray’s stepfather Orin worked at the local steel plant.
Ray, who only completed school at the first grade level, became a lifelong recluse and avoided going out during the day because his appearance often startled people. He passed the time by listening to the radio, hiking in the woods behind his home, working with crafts, becoming skilled at several brain-teasing puzzles, and occasionally cutting the grass with a manual lawnmower. Those who knew him said he was one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.
Ray became known by the locals as Charlie No Face, although he was better known in legend as the Green Man. Exactly why he is called the Green Man is not entirely known, but some say it was his green jacket while others say he had a green hue about him.
It was years later that Ray started to gain acclaim and notoriety of sorts. No one knows for sure but years later, maybe in the early 1940’s, Ray started to walk at night along Route 351 between Koppel and New Galilee. He kept his course with a walking stick and by keeping one foot on the paved road and the other on the gravel shoulder. Word got around about his nightly walks and people, especially curiosity-seeking teenagers, started driving along Route 351 to catch a glimpse of him. Most kids just drove by him in fear but others stopped to talk and befriended him. People were generally very kind to him and even gave him beer and cigarettes. A handful of folks demeaned him and reportedly gave him cigarettes laced with drugs. The zenith of his popularity was in the late 1950’s and 1960’s when he encountered folks on a regular basis.
His stepfather Orin passed away in 1963 and his mother Lula died in 1966. Ray continued his nightly walks for many years until age started to catch up with him in the 1970’s. I believe he continue to reside in the family home with his younger sister Valda V. (Robinson) Rice, whose husband Milton “John” Rice died in Michigan in 1970, for some time. In the early 1980’s he took up residence in the Beaver County Geriatric Center (now Friendship Ridge nursing home) in Beaver, Pennsylvania. Ray died on June 11, 1985, at the age of seventy-four and was buried with his father Robert in Grandview Cemetery in Beaver Falls.
The nocturnal outings of disfigured Ray led to many far-fetched stories that often compared him to some sort of supernatural beast. Young children feared the frightening tales of the Green Man and the stories placed him all over the region. Many people in western Pennsylvania knew about the urban legend of the Green Man, but few knew the actual kind-hearted man that was Raymond Robinson. That stands true even today.
Ray’s mother Lula passed away in October 1966. To read her obituary click on: LULA ROBINSON OBITUARY.
A photo of Ray’s gravestone. Ray is buried next to his father Robert, who died when Ray was seven years old. (Nov 2010)
A closeup of Ray’s name etched into the stone. (Nov 2010)