The Higher the Hair - The Closer to God!
The time was the summer of 1965. I had just finished high school in May. I couldn’t wait to start my career in hairdressing – so in June I started my training at Bernel Hairstyling College in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Imagine, the kid from the farm moving into the big city. It was truly exciting. What was really a learning curve was the fashion at the time. If you look at fashion for the era – it was a time when styles were going from the conservative pin curl sets and hats and gloves – to rollers and “ratting” the hair. It seemed like a hair explosion as the hair helmet was growing so fast and it was almost like a contest to see who could have the highest hair style.
It’s over 50 years ago but I can still recall one client who came to the school almost on a daily basis to have her hair inflated ( as I call it now). I can tell this story with great fondness and love for the lady. Her name was Mardel Smart. That’s a name that has a ring all it’s own. Mardel was a hostess at a better restaurant in Grand Forks at the time. It was called the Bronze Boot. It has a huge neon cowboy boot on the outside —- just classy ( so I thought at the time). No, I never did get there to see what it was like. But Mardel! She had long hair which she peroxided herself. Yes, I didn’t say colored – Peroxided. Her home color made her hair the most brassy orange you can imagine. Now when she came to the school for her “do” – she did not come for a shampoo and style —– she came for a “comb out” because it was cheaper. Now, Mardel did not own any rollers – so she set her hair in pin curls. Are you getting the vision of orange pin curls. Nice! But Mardel and I got along famously. I really liked her. It also gave me the opportunity to create “the Bee Hive”. If you’ve ever watched the movie “HAIRSPRAY” then you saw what I could do. It was a lot of hairspray and ratting and more ratting until the hair tower was in place. Some day’s it would be swirling and other days it would be curling——but I could get the hair so high it could touch the clouds. I had so much fun creating Mardel’s coiffure and she received many compliments on it. I only had one fear that never left me — did I put enough spray on it! I had a vision linger in my head that she was working at the Bronze Boot taking patrons to their table and all at once the hair tower began to lean and collapse. I still wonder to this day if that happened.