MY FIRST JOB… a hair salon, called a Beauty Shop back then. I was 12 years of age. ‘La Donna’ (the woman), was its name and my mom owned it. Curlers, Hooded Hair Dryers, False Lashes, Hairpieces, Teasing and lots of Hairspray was simply, everyday life.
$4.50 was the price for a wash and set. My job? Helper to all the ‘beauticians’ and receptionist. I took rollers out, swept floors, answered phones, sometimes washed hair, and often times put rollers in the hairpieces. I didn’t get paid, but I did receive tips, $.25, a quarter. Imagine that!
My parents entertained often at home, had a full size bar (like, almost professional), in our home and on it were these 5 gallon whiskey bottles, Seagram’s VO, Johnnie Walker, Old Crow and a few others. I asked if I could have an empty one to put my tips in. Quarters fit perfectly in the wide opening.
I spent nearly all of my after-school and weekend time in this salon where woman became beautiful, shared their worries of life, solved everyday problems and created a beautifully powerful bond with other women.
Age 12 right through high school meant, I didn’t go to football games with classmates, didn’t hang around the school parking lot getting into mischief along with many of my classmates, didn’t do drugs (the beginning of a huge problem back in the late 60’s) AND I was making money! I learned at a very early age in life that money was power, and for me at that age, the power I discovered was my independence. I bought my first car at 16. Could wear what ever I wanted since I paid for the cloths I wanted to buy, or the fabric to make them, (yes, I made many of the outfits I wore to school because what I wanted to wear just wasn’t sold in the stores. You see, while the girls in my school had each other to set clothing styles and trends, I had access to French, Italian and British Vogue magazines in the salon, and if you know what fast become fashionable back in the late 60’s, it was Twiggy, Cher and the Beatles! I wanted English Mode cloths and they were nowhere to be found in Maryland. So, I made them. Independence!)
By age 16 I had my apprentice license and 18, I had a full book of clients and making damn good money! My graduating classmates? Looking for colleges, totally dependent on their parents and poor! I took a different path in life. I had very few friends all through my high school years because I found little substance in the selection of friends from school and a wealth of possibilities at work.
That 5 gallon whiskey bottle? By the time I graduated from high school, I had filled that baby up! Quarters! Enough quarters to pay for myself AND one of my sisters to take a trip to the Bahamas! I paid for it all. One week, hotel, meals, and airfare. Freedom. Independence. HAIR!
I remained in that field of work for 40 years. Raised 4 children as a single mom with the money I earned in my own salon. Wrote and published my first book, a gossip book gleaned from many of the fabulous people that crossed my path: CONFESSIONS OF A HAIRDRESSER.
FOOD. Where did food fit into those years of my life? Sweetie… THAT is a fabulous story for another page, and one I am still living to this day!