Thursday, December 28, 2017

Blanche's Permanent Wave

Rondy and Blanche Ledford after getting her first permanent wave. rage in the mountain town of Hayesville, North Carolina during the 1940s was bobbed hair and curls.  Those with straight hair got permanent waves, but many women simply set their hair at home using pin curls or twisted up in rags.

Movie stars such as Betty Grable and Ava Gardner influenced the fashion of women.  My aunts got hairstyles like these glamorous actresses.

My mother, Blanche, dreamed of getting her hair bobbed, too.  She enjoyed the cinema and these stars provided an escape from the gloom of World War II.

War influenced how women wore their hair.  Working in the fields, factories, or armed services, required hairstyles that would not get caught in machinery or in the way.

Many women who worked in factories wore trousers.  Granny Trese didn't approve of her daughters wearing pants.  She was a religious person and thought females should not dress like men.

Much to Granny's chagrin, her daughters wore trousers at home.  Pants were more comfortable than dresses to do housework.

Although Blanche never wore trousers, she still desired to bob her hair and get a permanent wave.  Of course Granny Trease frowned on that.

But Blanche's fiancĂ©e, Rondy Ledford, helped her fulfill a dream. He was serving with the Civilian Conservation Corps in Aquone, North Carolina.  One weekend Rondy came home and took Blanche to a movie.  She told him she wanted to bob her hair and get a permanent wave, but didn't have the money.  He gave her the cash to go to the beauty shop.

On Monday morning, Blanche sneaked into Mary Jo Burch's Beauty Shop.  She told her she wanted to bob her hair and get a perm.  When Blanche saw the wicked- looking permanent machine, it scared her to death.  She was afraid it would electrocute her.

But Mary Jo assured Blanche it was safe.  The machine had clips that hung from above and heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.  Dampened hair steamed and curled as it was heated on rods.

The machine got so hot that Mary Jo had to fan Blanche's head constantly.  The beautician and customer ran the risk of serious burns.

Blanche's heart raced and she broke into a sweat.  She promised herself if the beauty shop did not catch on fire, she would never get another permanent.

Hours later Blanche dragged out of Mary Jo's Beauty Shop with stiff and brittle hair.  Her fiancĂ©e loved her new hairstyle, but Granny Trese just rolled her eyes.

by:  Brenda Kay Ledford

The wicked-looking permanent wave machine!


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Susie Swanson said...

I love this Brenda. Brought back many memories of my mama getting perms and rolling her hair with Bobby pins. I wish you and your mother a Happy and Blessed New Year.

Anonymous said...

This was a fun read. The things we will try!!! lol Love the photos.
Blessings to you in 2018.

lil red hen said...

Brenda, such a sweet story! I don;t think I would have trusted that machine!

Connie said...

What a great picture and fun story! Wishing you a happy new year!

Eggs In My Pocket said...

oh my goodness.......your post made me smile........and I remember my grandmother talking about the horrors of those machines!
Wishing you a safe and blessed new year!

Janet, said...

What a great story! I saw that contraption on an episode of the Waltons once. Olivia got tired of her hair and went to Cora Beth's beauty shop in the back of the store and got a permanent wave. It was scary looking!

Elaine/Muddling Through said...

How funny! My daughter Ruthie and I used to often joke about the things we do to be beautiful! Happy New Year!

Henny Penny said...

I love this story! When I was about 12 years old, I got a perm. The beautician's name was Myrtle and her shop was next to the Lucks Pinto Bean Factory in Seagrove NC. My aunt carried me to get the perm. She didn't use one of those old electric contraptions with the curlers hanging down, but there was still one in her shop. I remember it sitting there in the corner. Boy, did I get a perm! Myrtle told me to not brush my hair out for a while. My head would not have fit in a bushel basket. I still love big hair and a perm! :) Gosh, this would have made a post.

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