Getting her hair done entailed a wash and a rinse with a set and comb-out. Don’t look at me in that tone of voice. You know exactly what I’m talking about. You don’t? Oh okay well let me explain it to you. My mother would go to the beauty shop my great Aunt Ima’s beauty shop to be exact. She would stop and buy a full pack of Benson and Hedges and get me an Orange Crush soda pop. We would then venture to a place I am sure had enough fluorocarbons in its air that it would put the smoggiest day in Los Angeles to shame. My mother would park her T-bird in the front of the shop. We would gather our belongings and go inside.
This was of course after my mother had gotten out of bed, put her face on and did her hair. Yes she did her hair to go get her hair done. She also cleaned her house before the maid came. You wouldn’t want your beauty operator to see your hair a mess anymore than you would want your maid to clean a dirty house. Like I was saying, we would walk in and inhale Aqua-Net and Revlon Ruby Red Nail polish and find our seats. I would sit at the manicurist table with my Casper the Friendly Ghost Comic Book and my Orange crush. My mother would sit in Sue’s beauty chair. There would be a cloud of cigarette smoke hovering over the dryers and the wash basins. Hey it was the 1960’s everyone had a cigarette. I in fact had a pack of candy cigarettes in my J.C. Penny black patent leather purse along with a picture of Barbara Millicent Roberts in my wallet in lieu of my own and a coin purse with approximately 23 cents in pennies. My mother would have done my hair too. She would have washed it with Prell and set it with Dippity Do in sponge rollers. I was a vision of loveliness in my Buster Browns and my flippy hair do.
My mother would wrap toilet paper around her hair every night before she went to bed so as not to disturb her hair while sleeping. She also had a funny little round satin neck pillow that she slept on. She would get up every morning and fluff her hair out spray 10 gallons of Aqua-net hairspray on it all the while balancing a cigarette out of the corner of her perfectly applied golden rose lipstick lips and go on about her day. Sue would take a brush and brush all the hairspray and product that had been building up for a week out of my mother’s hair. Sue would lean my mother’s head over the wash basin. She would scrub my mother’s head like she was washing sheets in the creek. Then she would wrap it up in a towel and clamp it off with some clamps that looked like they belonged in my daddy’s shop. Then the process would begin. She would take a rubber thing that looked like a colander that you strain prunes through and put it on my mother’s head. Then with what she called a “rat tailed comb” she would pull strands of my mother’s hair through the holes. This would result in my mother looking as if she had met Dr. Frankenstein or as Mel Brooks would say Frahnkeensteen and he had hooked up the electrodes. Sue would strip the color off of her hair only to apply a different color. This process would take in my six year old mind about 25 years but in reality it was several hours. Then she would stick my mother under the dryer then back to the wash basin. Again she would take out the rat tail comb and she would section off hair and roll the hair around a brushy sticky roller and pin it with a little pink plastic stick. She did this all over my mother’s head. She would once again put her under the huge alien shaped pink dryer and turn it on hurricane strength. My mother would sit smoking cigarettes and having conversations with the woman under the adjacent dryer that went something like this “Did you hear about Gertrude? She found a burglar in her living room” to which my mother would answer “What was a wiggler doing in her dining room and what is a wiggler?” “No, not a bugler, a burglar in her living room.” The woman would say a little louder and a little slower. My mother would look at the woman and say “Did he play in a band? Was she having a party?” To which the woman would answer “I don’t think she broke his hand. No I don’t have to go potty but thanks for asking.” It would go on and on like that for the four years they were under the dryer. The timer would finally sound and Sue would turn the dryer off and let my mother “cool down”. Then she would put her in her beauty chair spin her around and start taking the curlers out. Then starting at the base of my mother’s neck she would begin teasing her hair. No I don’t mean she called it names and made fun of it she would “rat” the hair with her “rat tailed comb”. She would continue this procedure until she had ratted her entire hair and then she would start sculpting it. She would spray Aqua-net then comb, then rat the hair some more and then she would do it all over again. She would comb and sculpt and sculpt and comb until she had my mother’s hair looking like a big frosted football helmet.
She would spray and take a puff of her cigarette while my mom sat in the chair. She would listen to someone else chatter while smoking one cigarette after another. She would look through magazines and comment on this or that recipe or new modern design. She would brag about her children and laugh about the latest shenanigans that had happened at the hospital. I have to take a minute to say I am always amazed at the amount of flammable substances where in the same room with all those sparks and burning embers and not one time did I see anyone’s hair go up in flames or heads explode but I went every week just in case. My mother was a different person sitting in that chair. She was a movie starlet, she was a celebrity, and she was a queen which made me a princess. Her day of beauty would come to an end and she would always slip Sue a little something extra and we would return home where once again she was my mother the cook, the housekeeper and the nurse.
Doesn't this look like a torture device instead of a beauty device?
You say tomatoe I say.... well you know
Now my mother did this every week for years. She wore her hair in a perfect bee-hive hair do until I was in junior high school and my brother was in college.
This is one incarnation of my mother's beehive. Funny thing is
she had just had surgery and was in the hospital and her hair looked perfect.
I did not inherit that gene.
Then one day we were all sitting in the family room watching the Dallas Cowboys. There was a roaring fire in the fire place my daddy was in his recliner. My mother was in her chair and my brother was on the sofa. My mother made a comment to my brother who replied “O.K. Helium head.” That was it my mother took off her shoe and with perfect aim hurled it across the room where it hit her favorite burnt orange swag lamp which promptly broke and hit my brother on the head. The next week my mother had a new hair style and we had a new lamp.