Are You Giving Me a Perm or Making Egg Sandwiches?

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 grammy
My grandmother reluctantly started to wear Eva Gabor wigs at the age of 52. Her hair had been badly burned at the hands of a 1930’s salon perm and her thinning hair failed to cover her bald spots. Hence, a different style of Eva graced Mary’s head every single day. But, even with all her hair issues it never stopped her from inflicting home perms on me. There was no talking to my stylist, Grammy Knight. She would stand there forever adjusting her wig from side to side in frustration, until I gave in.
hair
 Bonnet_Hair_Dryer
I can remember the smell of a Toni Perm like it was yesterday. Just seeing the little plastic squeeze bottle coming towards me still gives me nightmares.  Did you know there were actually rules and instructions for those perms? My family knew their own version all by heart, as it had been handed down by word of mouth through many generations.
toni1
 hairee
When the perm was over the towels were taken out to be boiled in hot water because they smelled. The scent was almost up there with Vick’s Vapor Rub– on the top ten most hated list. I remember being catatonic. My Grandmother? Grammy Knight went outside to shake her wig. It seems that her Eva Gabor wig wasn’t that comfy when she was stressed out. I finally nipped the perm in the bud in 1961. When the movie “The Parent Trap” came out, I went to the hairdresser with a picture of Hayley Mills’ pixie cut and said, “Do this!”
haleymills
I was interrogated by their many patrons and hairdressers. They were horrified, it was so short I pretended to be Audrey Hepburn, from “The Nun’s Story,” for the next few months. The perms have traumatized me for years- in fact I still can’t talk about it LOL.
Nun_story

Hair Dressing Salon

The Hair Dressing Salon in Mr. McCaffrey’s building having fallen into his hands, William Chenett is prepared to execute hair dressing, hair dyeing, shaving, shampooing, the setting of razors, scissors, shears, etc.  Gentlemen’s and ladies’ curling particularly attended to.  He has spent a considerable park of the last 15 years in the leading establishments of New York, Montreal and Ottawa.  Hair restorative always on hand.

September 14, 1869. Carleton Place

Longer version of this story in my book Menopausal Woman From the Corn
Carleton Place ad from the Carleton Place Canadian 1967 from The Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

2 responses »

  1. Those home-perms were killers. My long straight hair was very fashionable in the late 60’s but having grown up with the hair does of the 50’s and 60’s, I’m still partial to full-looking curled hair. I still use electric rollers today when I want to “dress up” . Brainwashing, I guess

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