Friday, September 7, 2012


My visiting blog writer this week is Ann Kennedy, who writes about her hair. Ann and I are   "cohorts" who have lived through the same era. Our models were movie stars such as Shirley Temple above. Ann and I have a lot in common. For one, we experienced the same problems with our straight hair. Since curly hair was so popular as we grew up, our mothers did everything they could to help our hair look like the movie stars we idolized. It wasn't much fun to have to go through the many attempts to curl our hair during our young lives.
All I can say is we had very straight hair. There are not many pictures that describe our hair because so few girls had straight hair or so it seemed. We were cute like the picture below, but it wasn't enough.

Ann's creative story tells us about the hair products that gave our poor hair such agony. Actually, it's a memoir, using the  Point of View of her hair. I know you will enjoy this, as much as I do.

Ann is my grandson Wally's maternal grandmother who comes from a family of colorful storytellers. Her father was the illustrious Wick Fowler, who was a journalist during World War II, was a friend to Lyndon B. Johnson and cooked his famous Wick Fowler's Two-Alarm Chili numerous times at the White House. Ann and her brother, Gordon Fowler, owned and operated the Wick Fowler Two Alarm Chili Company in Austin for years, until they sold it and retired about twenty years ago. The Terlingua Chili Cook-Off held annually in Terlingua, Texas is a celebration pioneered by Wick Fowler. Ann has many colorful stories that I hope she continues to give us.


           I Was Doused With Chemicals and A Quarter of Me Was Murdered in Cold Blood:
                                            The Story of Ann's Hair

I am Ann's Head of  Hair. Seventy years ago, I was a very light blonde color that was sometimes braided by Ann's mom.  I wanted to stay straight, and did so. I made those braids slide, separate and fall apart as fast as anything. Even as she realized Ann wasn't going to sing and dance and be the world's child star, ol' shirley Temple's curls looked real cute to Ann's mom. I was hoisted into a seat at a beauty shop.  Above me, a giant bowl with electric coils hanging from it looked like trouble. I recited my motto, "stay straight," but

to no avail. By the end of a long day, I had been twisted,  heated, drenched in stinging, smelly chemicals-tortured into curls. Ann's mom was thrilled.  I stayed awake for 3 nights, willing myself to remember my motto. It worked! On the 3rd day,  all those hateful curls went back to my straight self. I won the first of many battles with curly hair.
After about a decade of failures, Ann's mom, grandmother, and aunts came up
with an idea-a pair of thinning shears that would thin out enough of my hair to make it hold a curl. At least a quarter of me  was murdered in cold blood by those shears.

The smug, satisfied look on those motherly faces was more than I could tolerate.
I quickly re-bounded - thicker and straighter than ever. My opponents had been Ann's mom and those people at nasty "beauty shops."

Then along came a horror called "Toni's Home Permanent." Ann's mom fell for
all those successful stories in magazines,  along with glamour shots of famous stars
and models, all with "Toni" curls. Ha! I could beat back a "Toni"in one day.

I liked being dried in front of a fireplace or hanging out of a car window, to dry
in the wind. When I was 16, a hair dryer, a boring old thing, entered my formerly
fun life. I made it blow up in Ann's hand a few years later.

A short time later a mad scientist came up with "hairspray" (cough, cough!). I was hair sprayed nearly to death,  in places from a Neiman- Marcus Salon to a motel room in Terlingua.

I rejuvinated myself at 18 years old. My new home in Galveston meant Mother
Nature was my ally, with her humid, damp ocean breezes. I was at my best that year.                            
My confidence level stayed high throughout the arrival of "hot rollers."Useless
things,  those hot rollers.


For the next 20 years, until I turned 50, I was content. Worn in a simple ponytail, I welcomed just a rubber band and scarf. Sadly, my worst day came at a store called Frost Brothers. Ann and her mom thought they would relegate me back to training camp. They bought a wig to completely cover me up. I fought back like a girl, scratched, itched, and turned up my temperature, made that wig too loose or too tight-anything to make her sorry.

That ridiculous wig went to a teacher and is, even now, being worn by rug-rats in
their silly little school plays. I won, as usual, and was happily turned back in to my
ponytail self.

I have been washed in everything from baby shampoo to Tide Soap to "Mane
and Tail." Been conditioned with concoctions from mayonaise to beer to oil from
nuts grown in New Zealand. I remain, at 73, a rather odd color (tan? gray?blonde?)
but as straight and slick as a No. 2 pencil.

                                                         The (Split) End

Can you relate to Ann's story of her hair? Today straight is in. I know Ann's hair is
much happier, as is mine. Because I too wear my hair in a pony tail most of the time.