Who Knew?

Hair is a funny thing. It is always changing. An example that we are all familiar with is Casey’s hair, which was thin and straight until the age of seven when it suddenly exploded into a thick, unruly mane of curls. Taming it became a constant source of aggravation and expense for her. She chemically straightened it for years until she finally surrendered and learned how to manage the curls.

My change in texture from straight to wavy did not occur until after my child-bearing years. Could it be a result of all those years of coloring it, which began before my thirtieth birthday after enough gray hairs appeared that I finally decided to let Miss Clairol help me hide those gray strands of wisdom? Now I have a regular appointment every four weeks, because I am just not ready to submit to a full head of gray.

What I discovered today, while turning the pages of my baby book, was an envelope labeled “Karen’s first haircut—not counting bangs.” It was dated three weeks after my second birthday.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I learned that I did not begin life as a brunette, but instead, I was a blonde! Who knew? I need to have a chat about that with Grandma today. Maybe I should mention that to my hairdresser. How do you think I would look now as a blonde?



She Should Have Used the Tape

I’d like to discuss a topic of interest to many people—something you either have or don’t. Something you care deeply about, or something you try to ignore, because it’s just not important to you. Maybe you even try to get rid of it, but if you have it, it’s a never-ending daily battle because it just keeps returning.

I’m talking about hair. For me, it has changed over time, and I don’t just mean the color. When I was young, it was fine and straight. Now it has lost its youthful sheen and has become wavy and frizzy.

There is so much to discuss about hair, but today, I would like to focus on bangs.

As you know, Grandma took my hair into her own hands by giving me a home permanent when I was only three or four. In addition to giving me curls from a box, she bought a pair of hair scissors and cut bangs.

During the 50s and early 60s, very, very short bangs were in fashion, which was great for do-it-your selfers like Grandma, who needed to worry about mistakes. Her method was to start with them a little longer than the final desired length, and then continued to cut them until they were fairly even. She’d cut, look, cut, look, cut, look—until we were either unable to sit still any longer or she would just give up.

Here is an example of what I looked like after she trimmed and evened my bangs so many times that there was nothing left to cut, and still, they were crooked.

Eventually by the mid-60s, either I voiced my opinion or she got tired, because the days of the bangs were gone for me.

If only she had seen this ad for Scotch tape, maybe she would have done a better job and I would still have had bangs in fifth grade.


Hot Rollers- A Whole New World

The three of you are so lucky to be women of the hair-tool age. There are a plethora (there’s my word again) of tools and hair products available for you to style your hair: Dry it, straighten it, curl it (curling iron or hot rollers); color it, highlight it, de-frizz it; hydrate it, remove oils, and repair your split ends. Whew! So many decisions to make regarding your hair. I’m glad Dad is retired so I don’t have to plan my meals when it is time to replenish my care-care cabinet.

Once Grandma stopped giving me Toni Home Permanents, I became the commander of my hair care. For me, that meant hair curlers, and until I got married, I went to bed most nights wearing those nasty, uncomfortable rollers in my hair.

On the nights I washed my hair, I would sleep with my wet hair wrapped around a full head of metal curlers with little brushes inside to maintain their shape. Some were held in place with bobby pins, while later versions were soft, pink spongy curlers with a built-in clip that I could snap into place. Before climbing into bed, I would encase my curlers with a net so they would stay in place while I slept. It was quite the glamorous look as you can imagine.

In between washings, I would slather my hair with something called “Dippity-Do,” which claimed to have a “special bodifier to add thickness to your hair.” Impressive, right? As we learned on TV, “nothing holds like Dippity-Do.” You just don’t understand what you missed by never having experienced this wonder product for women.

When I was in college, I discovered a different trick to my evening ritual which made sleeping a bit more comfortable. I would bend over at the waist and brush my hair into a smooth ponytail on the top of my head, sort of in the style of Pebbles Flintstone. Using this method, I could section my hair into a half dozen parts and then add the curlers. That way, most of my head was curler free and I usually had a much better night sleep.

Some girls, who had unusually curly hair (that would be Casey), would often roll their hair around a single orange juice concentrate can. The result would be a smooth, sleek look.

Allegedly, “electric curlers” were invented sometime during the late sixties, but they did not become my best friend for ten more years. I was accustomed to the routine and I probably didn’t want to spend the money.

Once Dad was part of my life, I think he believed they were a necessity rather than a luxury. I realized they were worth the occasional burned scalp or small bald spots caused when they got tangled and I had to yank them out of my head to remove them. Thank goodness for whoever was behind the invention of my Clairol “Kindness 20” hot rollers. They changed my life!

Beauty Torture- First Perm

I found a picture which I am sharing with you, because it is an example of the beauty routine I was forced to endure as a very young child. You are very fortunate that you were children born in the eighties and were not subjected to this periodic form of womanly torture. I am guessing that I was approximately five years old when this photo was taken.

Alan, Karen, and Billy- about 1960
Alan, Karen, and Billy- about 1960

The curlers you see in my hair were the result of what was known at that time as the greatest invention to women—the Toni home permanent. It was a long process, and as the mother of three girls, I wonder how I was able to endure the awful procedure at such a young age.

First Grandma washed my hair, then she wrapped thin little papers around sectioned-off strands of hair before rolling them on tiny little rods. Next, the most god-awful-smelling solution in the world was dabbed on each curler (it was a cross between rotten eggs and a dead body), and then you waited for the curls to set. This was probably when this photo, the only one I have with Billy and Alan, was taken:

The next step was to wash my hair (in the kitchen sink), apply a neutralizing solution, and then wait again before Grandma finally removed the curlers. As fans of Legally Blonde, you all know that Grandma could not wash my hair for forty-eight hours. So I had to continue to endure that smell, although it was a bit weaker than when wet. I was such a good little girl!

For years, I continued to put up with Grandma and Toni until I was old enough to curl my own hair. At that time, I would go to bed every single night with curlers in my hair. This was clearly not very comfortable but for me, but it was a better choice than a day with Toni. (Yes, the smell was that bad!)

I continued to do this through my college years. In fact, I recall one night when I wanted to visit my friend, Sue, who lived at the other side of campus. In order to avoid being attacked, my friend Karen and I devised a strategy, which was to roll our hair in curlers (to look ugly and unappealing to all potential assailants), and grab a couple of baseball bats. Our plan worked, because we are both still alive today to tell the tale. I wonder if she remembers that story.

So girls, consider yourselves lucky that you were able to have all your hair treatments done by professionals in salons instead of by Mom in the kitchen.