Hair Nation

People have inquired whether these posts are actual excerpts from my book, “Baby Boomer Reflections: Eighteen Special Years Between 1946 and 1964.”  They aren’t.  The book is scheduled for release in May 2015.  It is an actual story.  These posts are fun memories I believe we need to share.  If you agree, please share them as well with your FaceBook friends.

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The post-war ‘50s were times filled with relative affluence following the sacrifice and rationing of the preceding decade. It was time for people to experiment with glamour and change. Hairstyles were a perfect to try something new and different.

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Influenced by movie and rock and roll stars, American teenagers led the charge, and were imitated throughout the world, especially in Europe. Long hair was in vogue for teenage girls, who frequently sported their hair worn back in a ponytail. Teenage boys drifted between flat tops and crew cuts to a long-haired “greaser” look, that required the boys to carry a comb in their back pocket so they could keep their hair managed all day. The ultimate was the ducktail a/k/a the D.A. Can you remember Edd Byrnes, who played “Kookie” in 77 Sunset Strip. He actually recorded “Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb.” Now that was a classic!

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In order to support these new tonsorial trends, the fashion industry produced a variety of hair-styling products for both genders, including sprays, oils, creams, and my two personal favorites, Dippity Do and Butch Wax. The well-coiffed teen also certainly needed brushes, dryers, rollers, and a whole host of other gimmicks, and they were available as well.

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The ‘60s brought the bouffant or the “bubble,” and The Beatles brought long hair and a new style of British rock. Black rock stars, like Jackie Wilson, Stevie Wonder and Chubby Checker, however, continued to maintain their own identities. By the mid-‘60s, ultra long hair was in vogue, possibly in support of the parallel women’s movement, but also possibly to imitate the fledgling hippie movement. As you can see from a few of the photos, some black women apparently wanted straight hair and some white women apparently wanted curly hair. The fashion industry brought forth a myriad of products and tools to help accommodate those needs and wants.

I’m including a photomontage of both movie and rock stars to show how they wore their hair in the ‘50s and ‘60s. See how many of them you can name.

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10 thoughts on “Hair Nation

  1. I wore a “pixie”. It was a style I came back to several times over the years. Hmmmm…..maybe it’s time to try it again. Like Dame Judi Dench?

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  2. What you fail to mention were the curlers that we set our hair on. Many of us learned to sleep on what amounted to large plastic cylinders. They were torture, but necessary to get “that” look. If you slept without the curlers, you ended up with “bedhead” and no one wanted to show up at school without every hair in place. Some girls were even known to use juice cans to set their hair when jumbo size curlers weren’t available.

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  3. I loved Sher’s hair and had to imitate that after seeing Sonny and Sher perform in our town. In order to get that straight look, I had to wash my hair, furiously towel dry it, then go outside and throw my head back and forth with enough force to keep the hair straight until it dried (we lived in the desert so it really didn’t take that long) and once it was dry, I would say my head sideways on the ironing board and iron the ends. It was really never as straight as Sher’s but it was a lot straighter than it would have been otherwise, given that I have wavy hair. I am very thankful for straight irons and hand held hair dryers now because that procedure would kill me. Of course I did sport some pretty impressive abs as a teenager! Hmmmmmmm…

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  4. I went away to school at an early age in the mid 1950’s. The school took tonsorial matters very seriously, to the point of actually regulating and measuring the length of DA’s. And speaking of measuring, then there were the peg or pegged pants. I had a pair of pink peg pants which exceeded the peg limit. I was able to rent those pink peg pants to friends who were getting week-end leave.

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