Posted by Juliana Szucs on October 2, 2014 in Ask Juliana

Szucs girls The other day my daughter asked me about a long mark on my shoulder. I had to tell her it was a minor burn from dropping a curling iron onto said shoulder that morning. I had my head bent forward and was reaching up trying to curl a section on the top back of my head and the iron slipped from my hands landing squarely on me. Nothing serious as it didn’t even hurt, but she found it quite humorous and was teasing me about my prowess (or lack of) with hair products.

It got me thinking about all the things we go through in an effort to tame our hair. So that is this week’s Throwback Thursday theme—hair styles and what we went through to get them. (And fellas, you’re not excluded from this one. I dated several guys who spent more time on their hair than I did. We know you had your phases too.)

When I was young, my sisters and I were rocking the bangs. Wasn’t a horrible look and for those of us with really fine, straight hair, it was pretty low maintenance. Once when they got too long though I thought I would save Mom the trouble and I took pinking shears to them. That was not a good look.

I always wanted banana curls but my hair refused to cooperate. We did try pin curls for a while, but again, my hair rebelled. Grandma had a trick for pin curls. She’d rub a little spit on the curl to make it stay. Just what every girls wants—spit curls.

Since my sisters and I all had straight hair and curls were all the rage, we got a lot of perms. Anyone remember getting a home permanent in the 70s?  Pee-yew! Now recall that smell times four and you’ll get a feel for the aroma that hit my dad in the face when he came home from work on perm-day. Mom would do all four of us in a day, typically before the holidays.

I always wanted the tight curls, but Mom always loosened the perm up by setting our hair in the big pink foam rollers. Those were lots of fun to sleep in, right? I always seemed to lose one in the front while I was sleeping, so I’d have this one strip of rebellious straight hair.shagcurls

And then there were the hard plastic rollers that were held in place by a plastic stake. What sadistic soul invented those things?

Of course we also had the table-top dryers where you’d have to sit at the table under a hard plastic dome of heat for a half hour. Loads of fun in the summer. Or before that, the shower-cap that you attached to the hose that blew heat into the cap. In theory the warm air was supposed to fill the cap, but in reality the hose would direct really hot air to that one spot. It’s a wonder we aren’t all walking around with 2-inch diameter bald spots from those things.

So what about you? What trials and tribulations did you endure in the interest of the perfect school picture? Pomades? Home perms? Rag curlers? What was your favorite hairstyle? Share your stories with us, and better yet, share them with your family.

Juliana Szucs

Juliana Szucs has been working for Ancestry.com for more than 20 years. She began her family history journey trolling through microfilms with her mother at the age of 11. She has written many articles for online and print genealogical publications and wrote the "Computers and Technology" chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Juliana holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program.

1 Comment

  1. What a great story! The lengths we go to for beauty. It’s so funny to consider these stories next to the modern way of doing things/how things are done. Being able to really see the changes is one of the best parts of preserving stories of the past.

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