Tag Archives: perms

The Toni Perm

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The Toni Perm

 

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Sherbrooke Record Cowansville 1959

 

My Grandmother reluctantly began wearing Eva Gabor wigs at the age of 52. Her hair had been badly burned at the hands of a 1940’s salon perm, and her thinning hair failed to cover her bald spots as the year went by. Hence, a different style of Eva graced Mary’s head every few days. But, even with all her hair issues it never stopped her from inflicting Toni home perms on me. There was no talking to my stylist, Grammy Mary Louise Deller Knight. She would adjust her wig from side to side in frustration while she wrapped an old plastic tablecloth around me.

The smell of a Toni Perm still haunts me 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. I don’t think I can ever forget the words: “Let me know when it starts burning!”

When the timer dinged and the perm was over, the towels were taken out to be boiled in hot water because they smelled. The lingering scent almost rivaled Vick’s Vapor Rub– on the top ten most hated list. Half way through being almost blinded by the smell of rotten eggs and vinegar, 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 had figured that she was probably reliving her bad perm while she gave me one. I found the word “catastrophe” a perfect description for those constant home perms I was subjected to and her Eva Gabor wig.

 

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In 1961 finally nipped the perm in the bud. 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!” I was finally sick of feeling like Rapunzel caught in the tower with a head full of fuzz. Hear no perm, speak no perm, and see no perm–evermore!

When I got the Hayley Mills cut I was interrogated by the Lido Hair Salon’s many patrons and hairdressers. They were horrified, it was so short, so I just pretended to be Audrey Hepburn, from “The Nun’s Story,” for the next few months.

Even today I still can’t talk about perms–but worse yet was my grandmother’s constant desire to trim my bangs after. I always ended up  with badly cut bad bangs that were taped down with Scotch Tape with the sweet tang of hairspray in the air. Some say that permanents came a long way in the 50s and 60s, but I would politely like to disagree on that fact. The only thing we got better at was running like the wind when we smelled a whiff of what was coming our way.

 

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