When I was growing up, my mom went to the “beauty shop” every week to get her “hair done.”
That meant she went to Beth’s, the neighborhood salon, and Beth shampooed, conditioned and towel-dried her hair. Then, she wrapped her wet hair around rollers, and sat her in a chair under a hooded hair dryer.
Think Truvy in Steel Magnolias.
After sitting under the hair dryer, probably reading a romance novel, Beth styled mom’s hair and sprayed enough hair spray on it to last for the next week.
Then, Mom slept on a pillow with a satin pillow case to keep it from getting messed up.
Last week I had the pleasure of going with my mom to “get her hair done” at Helen’s, a salon she’s probably been going to since Beth died many years ago.
I had so much fun walking around that salon that my mom worried I’d offended Helen.
I couldn’t help myself.
It was a step back in time.
It made me think of Dolly Parton as Truvy saying, “I don’t trust anyone that does their own hair. I don’t think it’s normal.” Or, “The bigger the hair, the closer to God.”
I didn’t mean to be rude, I was just fascinated and impressed.
The thing about Helen’s and other salons like this is that they are not just places to get your hair done, they’re places of friendship and conversation that span decades, even generations.
Not only has Helen done my mom’s hair, she did my Grandma’s and two of my aunts’ hair. She knows a lot about my family.
She asked my mom about my aunt, who is now in a memory care unit of an assisted living facility.
“I miss her,” she said. “I remember when she started to get dementia. I was out of town and she called me and said, ‘Helen, where are you? I went to get my hair done and you weren’t there.'”
Helen said, “I’m on vacation. Remember, I told you I’d be out of town?”
My aunt didn’t remember.
“That was the beginning,” Helen said. “Then it just got worse. It was hard watching her go downhill.”
Helen even styled my Grandma’s and another aunt’s hair when they died so that they would look beautiful for their viewings and funerals.
While touring the salon, I heard my mom telling Helen about something, and then she said, “Helen, what would mama have done?”
Who has that kind of relationship with their hair stylist?
Not many of us can ask our hair stylist about how our mothers would have handled a situation or a problem.
It struck me as unique and beautiful that my family has “roots” (pun intended) with Helen’s hair salon.
My visits to the hair salon are never as personal or friendly as my mom’s visits to Helen’s.
The guy who does my hair is just that… a guy who does my hair.
I like him. I know he’s from Turkey and that he’s married and has a young daughter. But that’s the extent of our relationship. He doesn’t know my mom, my sister, my family, or what my mom would do in any given situation. He just knows about my hair.
Helen’s may not be a high-end, fancy salon, and it might not make the historical register, but for many women, like my mom, Grandma and aunts, it has been a personally significant place where a woman named Helen dedicated her life not just to cutting and styling their hair, but to witnessing their lives, keeping their confidences, and being their friend.
From the clock with hands made of scissors to the “rain hats” for sale on a peg board, it was a charming salon, full of stories.
Someday I’m going back with a notebook and pen or a tape recorder and I’m going to say, “Helen, tell me everything you know about my family.”
So, watch for another blog on this topic because I sense that after years of doing my mom, grandma’s and aunts’ hair, Helen knows a lot more than how to style hair…
23 thoughts on “A Visit to the Beauty Shop”
Fun story. Ah the good ole days
Thanks Greg. This is different than your swanky Georgetown salon experience!
That was my life as well! Fun memories.
Do you remember going to one of these salons? I went to my neighbor’s and it seriously took ALL DAY long. haha
Not only do I love your stories but how you describe the details- I’m waiting for you to write a novel- I would eat it up!
Thanks Krista. I would love to write a book someday. I wrote a memoir a few years ago but it needs some work. When I have time, I’ll rewrite it. Thanks for reading!
I love this. It reminds me of a salon my mother went to in SLC – Catherine’s. Three (or two) sisters ran it. My sister has run into them at times – very nice, pretty ladies. A lot more than hair went on at Truvy’s to be sure…..another reason I love that movie — the friendship they all had. How fun would that be to meet your friends weekly at the beauty salon while getting dolled up!!!!
Caren, let’s do it! Let’s go get dolled up with a bunch of friends. Who will be our “Helen” or “Catherine” though?
My mother also went every week to have her ” hair done.” When I was young I went with her. I was supplied with a magnet to pick up all the bobby pins off the floor. I think it was meant to keep me busy and out of the way. The names of the beauticians that I remember who did my mothers hair over the years were, Margaret King, Beth Miller, Cora Lee Johnson and Colleen. After I married and moved to Salt Lake, Beth Miller came to work at Catherine’s Beauty Salon (the salon ran by the two sisters) and I made my weekly trips to Beth to have my hair styled. Her brother Ted lived close by the Beauty Salon. Beth didn’t stay in Salt Lake long and left and returned to Springville. What wonderful memories your article has brought back to me. (P.S. Is that the same Caren Cannon who lived on Princeton Avenue in Salt Lake?)
Carma, yes it is the same Caren! You will have to reach out to her. What fun memories you shared.
Yes, it’s me — I saw your name and thought it must be you!! Lots of people went to Catherine’s. How are you and your family? How do you and Laurie know each other?
Did my comment come through?
On Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 12:09 PM, Laurie Snow Turner wrote:
> lauriesturner posted: “When I was growing up, my mom went to the “beauty > shop” every week to get her “hair done.” That meant she went to Beth’s, the > neighborhood salon, and Beth shampooed, conditioned and towel-dried her > hair. Then, she wrapped her wet hair around rollers, a” >
yes! thank you.
I saw this blog title when I was making another appointment at “Shauna’s” for my mom next week. We had both just finished cuts, and mom was styled too. When we walked in, Shauna said to my mom, “Helen, I’ve been waiting all week to ask you about the history of the Stewart family; how far back do you know?” Those two know everybody and everything! As for myself, I went in with a headache and left with a smile.
This is priceless. A snippet of history for sure!
Lori–such a gift you have to capture these snippets of life! One day, all your blogs should go into a book and become a collection, like a short story book
Denise, one year, for Christmas, I had all my blogs printed in a book and gave it to my mom. It’s so fun to look through that and see all these posts in book form. Someday, I should do it. Thanks for the encouragement!
Loved this Laurie! Helen & I were class mates! Such a fun thing to remember, that most people never get to experience!!!
Marilyn, You know everyone in Springville!! Where did Grandma Snow go to get her hair done?
Hi, I am Helen’s daughter,Suzie. This is such a great tribute to my mom. Thank you !
Thanks Suzie! She is a great lady who has been a dear friend to more people than she probably realizes!
Great post, Laurie. Very evocative of a time and place. In St. George my Uncle Floyd ran “Hunt’s House of Beauty” and he was a rare breed of male hairdresser in the 50s and 60s. But the ladies loved him, even the blue hairs.
The photos you took really added a lot – love ya, Sandra!!!
Wow!…. Stylist turned family (friend)