The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Hair - A Crowning Glory

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1983-2012

Issue: September, 1983

susans grandmotherMozelle Williams Hallbrook, grandmother of Susan M. Thigpen.A long, full head of hair in our grandmother’s day was a woman’s crowning glory. It was usually washed in rain water, for its purity and to make their hair soft. Such things as eggs and vinegar were rinsed in their hair to give it shine. Their hair was brushed a hundred strokes daily to keep it healthy, but today experts say hair shouldn’t be brushed that much because it causes excess breakage.

Do you remember when ladies used to save the hair from their brushes and roll it into balls to use for a “rat”? When they pinned their hair up on top of their heads, they used the “rat” to give the roll more fullness.

My grandmother used to make curls of clipped hair, attach the curls to a hairpin and then stick these around in her hairstyle to “fancy” it up. Once she was terribly embarrassed when a young man was courting her and one of them fell out!

Curling irons are nothing new. Our grandmothers had non-electric ones which they heated on the wood stove and then used to curl their hair. They had to be careful not to get them too hot because it would singe their hair.

At one time, most everyone saved a lock of someone’s hair for remembrance. Sometimes it was kept in a locket and worn close to their hearts. I have seen in a museum, a bracelet woven out of hair, undoubtedly a tribute to a loved one.

Today, styles change so often, it’s hard to keep up with them. Women have the choice of wearing their hair in more different ways than ever before. I still like a bit of the old fashioned enough to wear my own hair long and enjoy putting it up on top of my head. That’s one part of me that might always remain old fashioned.