Sunday, June 07, 2009

Bad Hair Day Part 2

Once my hair recovered from the TrimComb debacle, the hairdresser started looking for appropriate permanents for difficult hair. She tried a new approach of cutting hair after the permanent process, a somewhat successful method because frizzle-frazzled ends were eliminated.

Our change of station from Baltimore was to an isolated security base at Sidi Yahia, Morocco, one of three US stations in Morocco. We lived on Mehdia Beach, one of three beaches used by General Patton during the invasion of North Africa.

The Bad Hair Days continued. I vacillated between home perms applied by friends or no-perm straight hair. True to my oath, I cut no hair. Some wives had beauty training and there was at least one hairdresser in the PX.

Our next change of station was Denton, TX where my husband was a recruiter. I again had a full time pharmacy job, so I started my once-a-week hair appointments.

One appointment was total disaster: a cross-dresser hairdresser with a five-o-clock shadow confided he was having sex change surgery. Too much information for me, so I moved on to another beauty shop.

After several missteps, I found a shop near home where a friend worked. I scheduled a perm, explaining my litany of Bad Hair Days. Her employer recommended a perm called UNIPERM, a panacea for all kinds of hair.

An advertisement in the '70s said, "By following the foolproof directions, you'll all get perfect results time after time. Automatically." Another ad promised, "The super-mild waving lotions and UniPerm's unique system of controlled heat and time-release processing clamps promise fool-proof results on every head of hair, every time." A pricey perm at $50, UniPerm never met perennial Bad Hair Day!

This cure-all perm was the ultimate disaster with frizzle- frazzled ends breaking off with each brushing. I bitterly complained to my hairdresser and the owner. Both were horrified at results. The shop owner provided several weeks of conditioning oil treatments -no charge.

Then the shop owner and hairdresser sought the best perm available with built-in conditioning steps and no heat cycle, as I said price was no problem. After several of these permanents the hairdresser adjusted perm solution and neutralizer times until we obtained an acceptable perm, given my life-long Bad Hair Day history.

In our mid-40s, we decided to semi-retire in Arkansas. I brought a memo from the hairdresser with specific instructions and the permanent brand name.


The hairdresser I chose in Arkansas became my best friend (BF). She was puzzled by hair curling before the "bent" test and "grabbed the neutralizer." She knew I was adopted.

She obtained the permanent through her supplier. I also took her license to Texas to a beauty supplier I knew and purchased a 12 unit case. The product was discontinued in the period we were using the case of permanents.

Back to square one, she searched for similar permanents. Long periods of time I had straight hair. I was graying rapidly. After a hysterectomy I was post menopause, with no estrogen therapy. Hair began to thin. I had a bout with kidney cancer at age 60 - problem added to problem.

But there came that moment in time when all the roads of life meet at an intersection of revelation in September, 2000 - an epiphany.

My father died in 1999. Both parents were now deceased. I began to wonder about my biological roots. I never pursued my curiosity in deference to my parents who shaped my value system, provided an education. and nurtured me into adulthood.

I employed an intermediary - a fancy word for a searcher who also appears in court on behalf of clients. As we chatted, I discovered we bought our Denton home from her adoptive parents.


In this process I obtained redacted records of my biological mother's interview and stay in a maternity home. The interview asked about bloodlines and ethnicity of family background which stated German, Indian, etc.

BF read the papers with me. "That's it," she said. It's your Indian blood line. That's why your hair is so weird." She had worked with persons of Indian descent, but never connected that fact with me..... nor did I!

After meeting my biological family (a story for another time), some members dabbled in genealogy. As best can be determined, my generation of two half-brothers, a half-sister and myself probably are 1/32nd to 1/16th Cherokee from one side of the family. Since there is Indian from both paternal and maternal grandparents, it is probably more.

A few days ago BF asked me, " have you ever seen an Indian woman with a permanent?" No, but I haven't visited the Cherokee reservation in OK to conduct a poll...

11 comments:

Sniffles and Smiles said...

How fascinating that you traced your family history, and found deep American roots!!!! I'm sure you'll find more fun stuff! This was a terrific second half/sequel to your first! Loved this! Thanks for sharing!!! ~Janine XO

NitWit1 said...

TO readers: I apologize for lack of photos. I am sure somewhere there are dusty, moldy prints for some of these segments of my life.

I had to pack up my HP tonight to send for warranty mainboard replacement, so I am now on a 4 yr old laptop.

Amber Star said...

I'm about that much Cherokee, too and had the same issues you have described. I've not worried about it anymore since I don't care if my hair is curly or not...but do care if it is frizzed. I never thought about it that way. We have been unable to "prove" our heritage, because our family was SO GOOD at keeping off the rolls. They followed the Trail of Tears, but as whites. Always they were close, but not on the reservation. My grandmother wrote to the tribal council a long time ago and they could not find any of the names on the lists. It would have been a comfort to her and to my dad. When he died someone called the council here and a man came. He told us it is right to put evergreens in the casket. He gave my sister and me a sprig and we put it in with him. I've told my husband to put some in with me, unless I'm back on the cremation thing. Who knows what I'll be up to by then.

Anyway...the reason I came back so quickly is that I read your tips in my blog comments. I know I should use all those things, but durnit, I forget about it. It is so new and I know if I carry something really heavy I'm totally out of commission for a good while. Found that out when I was working still. Anyway, we do have carts and other stuff....I just have to remember to stop and get hubby to pick things up onto the cart for me. My fingers felt a little better after I did the flexing excersises my doc gave me....either that or the tylenol.

Abe Lincoln said...

Hair. I remember during World War II, that men at home (old and young alike) used hair oils called Bryl Cream (I am not sure of the spelling) and other oils and you actually poured some out in the hands, rubbed them together and then wiped it all through your hair. The objective was to make it look wet and I can't begin to tell you the number of boys and gray-haired men who had oil dripping off the ends of the hair onto their shoulders, neck and shirt collar.

After that, I remember when it was to look bone dry with hair all stiff as wheat straw and sticking up like corn stubble.

Fortunately the Army introduced my head to a butch haircut and from that I have branched out to a Princeton. That's about all my barber knows how to cut.

Loved this post.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

david mcmahon said...

Really enjoyed my first visit here - I followed your link from Sniffles and Smiles ....

jinksy said...

'Hairy' experiences for you! (hope this means the same as it does in UK) x

Sandi McBride said...

I'm here to congratulate you on making Post of the Day from David McMahon...being a Military Wife (DH now retired from Navy) I can really sympathize with your hair dresser debacle...seems like just when you find the right one, pouf..she/he's gone or you are! Enjoyed this post!
Sandi

Liz said...

What a fascinating story. I look forward to the finding your birth family tale.

lakeviewer said...

What a fun account. I came in from authorblog to congratulate you on the POD nomination.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Oh, I loved this post!!!! And I'm absolutely thrilled, and delighted that you received a POTD for it!!!!!! Congratulations!!!! So well-deserved!!! I am so happy to see one of my favorite bloggers recognized!!!! ~Janine XO

Cheffie-Mom said...

I came over from David's authorblog. Congrats on the Post of the Day Award! Great post - researching the past is the key to our future!