Shared Moments: Day 40 ‘My concerns relating to haircuts’ by Maureen Kershaw

Dear all,

Day 40 – My concerns relating to haircuts – or not – brings to mind hairstyles and associated disasters through the ages I hope these will resonate with many.

Sometime around the age of 7, my hair was given a centre parting and fringe – which now, I suppose, would be called a ‘classic bob’. I believe it was styled at a hairdressers on Brudenell Road which had two or three cubicles for individual and private cutting, setting or perms. The styling went through the varying stages to a reading of ‘My Weekly’ or similar under the dryer, all behind your own closed door. Strange!

There again my hair could have been cut at Lewis’s. The children’s hairdressing dept. on the 1st floor was roughly above what is now the cigarette counter of Sainsburys in Dortmund Square. Children sat on toy animals as I remember, rather like a fairground ride, which if they did move would account for a less than neat cut. Photos in folders displaying “School Days are Happy Days” (to which I strongly disagreed) showed a fringe of frightening proportions over the years. My hair refused to curl; oh how I tried with those bulldog-type wave clips – without success.

My Mum used to have Prom home perms carried out by a neighbour. Our house would stink! (from the perming lotion not the neighbour).I wasn’t allowed a perm until I was 11 years old, in readiness for a holiday at Butlin’s, Skegness. I did win 2nd prize in the Butlin’s Miss Elegance contest but I think it was for my dress and deportment, not from the shoulders up. For Children’s Day 1960 I had a shampoo and set before participating in English Country Dancing. Rollered and well lacquered, I think most of the ‘set’ had disappeared by the time we hit the arena at Roundhay Park.

As a bridesmaid for my sister’s wedding the customary hairdo was styled at T H Whiteley & Daughters on The Headrow on the Friday afternoon. By Saturday not many curls and waves survived under the peach petalled headdress from Denton’s in Thornton’s Arcade; not helped either by a heavy snow shower. There were no fancy names for hairdressers in those days and bore names such as Margaret Fenton or Sylvia’s. ‘Crowning Glory’ being the exception for naming, it was the salon of choice for my first staff dance hairdo. Looking at a photo of the occasion I don’t think it was worth the bus journey to Armley, but multi Award winners nevertheless they were.

In 1962 Beatle cuts were all the rage and not just for men. A home movie shows a young Maureen sporting the cut and I wish to this day that the tape had burnt out at that point. (8mm projectors had a habit of suddenly destroying the tape, usually at a treasured moment – but this section sadly remains). Another 1960s style was of course the bouffant look. The strongest setting lotion was applied after shampooing before being put into rollers and topped with a hairnet, tied at the back. On Saturday shopping trips to town, many women were seen sporting their rollers under a headscarf. I was always forbidden from such practice as Mum said it was “common”. Much backcombing and lacquer spraying from a gunged up plastic bottle of Rainette was required for the bouffant look. To retain it, we would sleep in hair rollers! What we did for vanity eh? It must have been so uncomfortable and I was constantly nagged by Mum that they would damage my brain! We’ll leave that one there…

Written by Maureen Kershaw, local resident and member of Caring Together

This has brought back memories Maureen. I got my first perm in the mid 70s, I remember they used cotton wool around the edges of the rollers to stop the perming solution dripping down. yet it still did. And you’re right the smell is distinct. It stung my eyes too.