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#253: Memory of Childhood - 3: Home Permanents

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Recently I read a reference to women and home permanents. Reading the article brought back some not so fond memories of when my grandmother, mother and two sisters would gather together to give each other a home permanent. emoticon emoticon

It always occurred in the kitchen where linoleum was the favored floor finish. If any solution was spilled, it might mar the floor but would definitely ruin the carpet of the living room and bedrooms.

We had no floor fans and no ceiling fans emoticon so all of the windows were cranked open wide to try to alleviate some of the pungent odor from the chemicals emoticon. And what a smell it was, lingering for days over the dining table that was usually in the kitchen and the base of these procedures.

I remember the small pieces of white paper, the rollers and metal bobby pins that had a glop of glue on the open ends to keep a user from cutting themselves on the sharp metal. And, of course, the liquid solution.

Should we guys decide to avail ourselves of the study of this mysterious female bonding ritual, what we endured, besides the aroma that seemed strong enough to eat away our insides, was confusion over why it was called a permanent when it had to be repeated on what seemed like at least one evening a month.

We would watch the machinations of taking strands of hair and somehow affixing them to the pieces of paper that was all then rolled onto a roller and clipped in place with the bobby pins.

Quite an elaborate undertaking we figured, especially since we sported close-cropped butch haircuts that was in no way long enough for such treatments.

Ah, memories of Friday nights. Dad would watch the fight of the week on TV emoticon and the women would, well, gussie themselves up for a purpose young boys could not fathom. emoticon

It was a ritual I'll never forget.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    emoticon This is a blast from the past, and something I haven't thought of in such a long time - the Saturday morning Toni home perms! Twice a year, my two sisters and I would fall victim to Mom's home permanents (how lucky my brother was!) It was an all-day event and by if the fumes didn't kill you, the hour of sitting still so Mom could roll you up would break your neck! When we were done, we all looked alike - mounds of out of control, tightly-wound curls! Oh, how I disliked those perms! Your blog also got me thinking about the weekly Saturday night hair setting ritual. Mom would roll our hair in plastic rollers while she sat in front of the t.v watching The Lawrence Welk Show. Sleeping in those pink plastic rollers was next to impossible and somewhat painful - LOL! Thanks for your blog-it brought back some strange, but funny memories!
    4007 days ago
    I remember my Mom giving me a few perms when I was little. I have thick hair so the perm made me way too bushy headed and would turned my hair red! I have stayed away from perms in my adult life. Just think about the hair dressers who have to inhale all those odors all day long- they sure deserve their tip. Joy
    4009 days ago
  • BOVEY63
    Thanks for bringing back some great memories. Our perms were done in the kitchen of my Grandma's friend. I can still smell the scent of the perm solution mixed with cigarette smoke (this was the 60s when smoking was thought to be okay). Best of all was hearing the stories they would tell.
    4009 days ago
    I am smiling and I thank you for that. It is refreshing to get a man's perspective on things. We had 3 girls in our family and we had those perming sessions too. I also had my hair wrapped on rags for curls and my grandma had these things called spoolies that she wrapped in our hair to gussy us up. What fond memories! I wish my mom and grandma were still here. I would sure let them mess with my hair today. Thank you so much for the memory jogger. I hope you have a great hair day. Hugs from Janet
    4009 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/10/2010 9:45:26 AM
    Certainly brought back memories for me. We were children in the 50' and 60's and can remember my mum perming everyone's hair. We lived in a small village and she became the self appointed hairdresser!

    I can remember ALWAYS crying after she finished my hair as it never looked like those 'photos on the packaging!

    The last perm my mum ever did was when my hair was long and by the time she finished one side of my head was curlier than the other! It was the time of the Afro look in the late 70's and I actually liked that one.

    I am soooo glad straight hair is now acceptable, even if it wasn't I would not consider perming my hair again!

    Thanks for the memory jog Lou
    Cheers Libby

    4009 days ago
    Your blog took me back to the "good ole days"!!! Some of those days well, weren't so good! haha! emoticon
    4009 days ago
  • SHEILA1505
    Me too, me too! I have photos of me as a five year old with a Tonette Shirley Temple! The times Mum had to rinse the solution out of my eyes cos I would wriggle and squirm - and somehow this process etched deeply into my being - why wasn't I given curly hair. Why did my hair have to be ramrod straight?

    The perm was always done a week or so before going on our summer holiday - so that my hair would look "pretty" even after being in the sea.

    4009 days ago
  • FRAN0426
    You have brought back memories of the days my sister and I would get those permanents. Every year just before school started we knew that perm day was coming, I usually got mine first, didn't really matter, the smell got to you with the first perm being given and stayed with you it seemed like days. I call my sister tomorrow and I will have to bring this perm getting up so we caan have a good laugh now that we aren't into perms----and she probabely hasn't thought about them for some time either. Thanks for the memory jogging.
    4009 days ago
    I loved this blog!! LOL I so well remember my three sisters-in-law and my mother doing this sacred ritual. Too funny! I just love the way you express yourself.


    4009 days ago
    Memories; your blogs always have a way of touching heart strings. Thanks, Lou!
    4010 days ago
  • TEDYBEAR2838
    Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Lou. I remember the linoleum floors for sure!

    I'll have to blog about a trip down memory lane, that was fun!

    4010 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6035648
    Wow.. that brought back memories of my mom giving my aunt a perm in her kitchen.. They had a grand old time yakking it up not ever seeming to mind the smell at all.. Gosh I miss them both.. Thanks for the memory!
    4010 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4114015
    This DOES bring back fond memories and some NOT so fond. My mother gave me the "Tonette" version of the toni perm...that was the children's version of a Toni. They always turned out frizzie! Lou, let me tell you, to this day I do not like curly hair and have never had a perm in my adult life!
    Thanks for the reminisce~~Gaye
    4010 days ago
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