Ah, yes. A class full of eager beauty school graduates ready to make their mark upon the world. In the 1960's, the salon was the headquarters for the suburban mom; it was the gossip hub and bored housewife central. Women had to be well manicured and those sixties hairdos required a lot of tender loving care.
By the 1980's, most women had gone to work, and the once bustling beauty salon had become deserted. Women still needed their hair worked on, but the community aspect of it was no longer there. Many gave way to big name chains (a la Supercuts) or become high-end salons for the well-to-do. Either way, the beauty parlor wasn't what it used to be.
But what about the period in-between? The 1970's. This was the Golden Age of the hair salon....
The "Wal-Mart-ization" of America really hadn't taken hold yet, and so most establishments were still non-chain, mom & pop establishments. Thus, each hair cutting place had its own charm. The one I went to was extremely dingy, with wood paneling, and the barber liked to blow the hair off everyone's neck. It was creepy, and he was probably a pervert..... but he was our pervert.
You can still find barbershops and hair salons today that are locally owned and staffed with friendly folks. However, the strip-mall chains outnumber them by far. Most hair salons are more or less like a fast food chain - your goal is to get in and out as quickly as possible, and on the cheap.
And if I may whine and moan just a minute longer: I have to add that most of the hair stylists today haven't a clue what they're doing. I'm sure they're paid minimum wage, so you're not exactly going to get Vidal Sassoon at these places - but, damn, it does get frustrating. I've had my hair get f****d up beyond repair on more than one occasion.
And don't get me started on the barbershop. This was truly a man's domain, full of ribald talk, nostril burning cologne, and even a straight razor shave. These places were once ubiquitous; the barbershop was a staple of the American life.... you'd have never dreamed it would go bye-bye. Now, when I go to a strip mall unisex hair salon, I feel like a fish out of water. Far from being a relaxing experience, it's a chore that I just want to get over with.
Floyd the Barber and Meathead. Man, I miss ye olde barbershop. I can still smell the Aqua Velva and cigarette smoke.
Hard to believe it wasn't that long ago that we didn't have hand-held hair dryers. In fact, prior to the seventies, women would often only wash their hair once a week. They'd go to the salon each week to have it washed, dried and set. By the seventies, women grew their hair long and it needed much less maintenance.
I can't recall where I found these next two photographs. There's something a bit melancholy about this empty beauty shop. America has moved on, but it lost something when it shut the doors of places like this.
A few more images of yesterday's hair dressers...
"Hey-hey-hey! Easy does it, babe. Leave something for my woman to run her fingers through."