Bang bang

For some reason, mothers in the late ’50s and early ‘60s seemed to want their young daughters to look like tiny Bettie Pages, at least in the bangs department. Kelly and I definitely had mothers who were scissor-happy, but it was just a matter of a few years before Kelly and I declared war.

The big bangs bang-up. I won my battle much sooner than Kelly did – her work-around was to grow her bangs out. But let me back up a bit.

Kelly is my furthest-back lifelong friend. We met as toddlers at Dorothy Donaldson Dance Studio, located, in, of all places, the Villa Marre. We tapped on those historic floors in the late 1950s. If I’m remembering correctly, Alva Jean Morgan was our teacher, and the well-known Mr. Joel, Joel Ruminer, was a student teacher.

Anyway, we became fast friends, as did our mothers and fathers. After the Cartwrights landed in North Little Rock when I was starting first grade, Kelly and I always lived in the same neighborhood until we left home. Our parents still live near each other.

Kelly and I looked like negative images as young children. She had the blackest hair a white girl could have and the whitest skin this side of Snow White. I was a dark-skinned cotton top. But we both had Bettie Page bangs.

This had to be first grade because I still have baby front teeth.

By fourth grade, though, we were beginning to rebel. Cher had hit the big time and made long, long bangs ever so cool.  I hung on every word Pattie Boyd (soon to be Pattie Boyd Harrison) wrote in her “Letters from London” in Sixteen magazine. 

(This “Beauty Box” entry is from a month after my 10th birthday, in October 1965. I remember it well almost 47 years later.)

We’d beg our mothers not to scalp us, then resort to wetting our bangs and trying to stretch them. I can still see us in front of the bathroom mirror tugging and hoping.

Somewhere along the line Mother relented. She was always fashion-conscious and wanted her daughters to follow suit. But I also remember her fussing mightily about my bangs hanging in my eyes and semi-laughing and shaking her head at how I had to tip my head up to see past them during the height of my rebellion.

At least my hair was white, then blonde, then light blondish-brown, so the mini-fringe was never as dramatic as Kelly’s stark black. I remember Kelly sitting in class the first few days after a pruning with her hand placed strategically – and dramatically – across her forehead to hide the line.

Pointing out that that was counterproductive only made her more upset.

By junior high, we were both over bangs – those were the “butt-cut” years, as my daughter and her friends laughingly called them later. At least until my senior year shag, with its styling parted bangs.

Someone in yearbook class snapped this photo of my darling friend Jeannie and I. If you look closely, you can see hints of the gypsy-shag layers that are pulled back into my low ponytail. This would be shortly before the full-on shag. And, oh, how I loved that navy lace-up neckline poorboy sweater! And dig the Greta Garbo/Claudette Colbert eyebrows.

I returned to full-on bangs in my mid-20s, dabbled with growing them out in my early 30s, then went back to long bangs and stayed put. They hide wrinkles and, well, I guess I’ve just I’ve never gotten completely over my love of the Patty Boyd/Cher/Jean Shrimpton/Bridgette Bardot/Marlo Thomas long-bangs look.

Back to the long-bangs look at about 40. Another yearbook photo, only this time I was a teacher.

What’s next for the hair chronicles? I may attempt to untangle ugly perms, if I dare. I saw some muy hideouso photos this morning. Those who don’t learn the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them, so we should all look back in anguish, right?


And the Blackhawk years can yield some interesting haircutting stories. For a while I was stylist to the ’hood.

You’ll have to tune in to see what’s next. Even I don’t know.

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