Home Perms

Every day, I am surprised by the memories that come to me by way of pictures.

Today, my share and tell revolves around my favorite school picture.

Yes, dear Kathy, this is my example of the infamous home perm.

This picture was taken after my very first perm–an event I begged for every day for weeks. My mom’s criteria never changed: my hair had to be long enough to wrap around her index finger.

Every day, at least once, I’d ask her to check. Finally, the day arrived–my hair passed her inspection!

I was ready.

Mom told me that there were a lot of steps to the process, sitting still was a very important part of each step. My memory of this summer afternoon is a clear one: I am sitting on a kitchen chair with my hands tucked under me in an effort to stay still. This being still stuff was very hard for me. I was a nervous little kid–biting my nails, swinging my legs, all while using my hands in an effort to ensure whatever I was saying was clearly understood.

Yes, it’s obvious, my mother was a saint.

She waited me out, reminding me to sit still while wrapping and rewrapping the rods until every hair was secured. With this done, we headed to the sink, where I laid back as she poured strong smelling perm solution over each and every rod. When each rod was saturated, she placed a shower cap on my head and directed me back to my chair.

We waited…for what seemed like hours.

With my hair neatly arranged in rows of colored rods, the solution had a straight shot down each and every row. I can still feel that solution as it made its way toward my eyes, into my ears, and down the back of my neck.

I was miserable but I did not complain–much.

I was going to have curls.

This “curing” time was when home perms got tricky. Too much time and the hair would be really frizzy. Too little time, not much curl.

We needed it to be just right.

When time was up, it was back to the sink where the solution was rinsed off–another solution applied to stop the curling action, and those pesky rods removed. Who knew something so simple could feel so wonderful?

I remember Mom calling this first perm the test run. She said it was good we did it when we did because there was time for my hair to relax some before picture day.

I remember thinking I looked so good.

I was very happy–my face says it all.

I felt that my mom and I had done a good job. I was proud of us.

I feel the same today.

Miss you, Mom.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love you.








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