2021: H – April A to Z: Mama in Photos…
I’m back for my sixth year (2021)… can you believe it… of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and I’ve had quite a time in deciding on my “theme.” I had a few running through my head, but after losing my mother last November, I thought I’d honor her through the many photographs I have… and tell the story of the photograph… as every photo has a story.
I’m fortunate that my mother had many photos of herself growing up… and I’m honoring her this year as the theme of my April A to Z… especially as was she was an April baby. Mama would have turned 91 this year… but she’s now back home celebrating this birthday with her parents and brother on the farm… where I believe she was always the happiest. The past few years my mother was fighting off dementia, while still managing to live alone until the last couple months of her life. I miss her every day… thinking and remembering all she did for me. She was the storyteller… She supplied me with my stories… and it’s because of her, that I write!
H… Hairstyles Through the Years
Mama’s hair has gone through many hairstyles over the years… as well as colors. She was always fussy about her hair, even from a young girl. If she was having a “bad” hair day… the bus driver was punished… as he had to wait for her. In the afternoon, he often paid her back by making her sit in the hot bus while he stopped to chat. When she graduated, he told her that was the best present ever… as he didn’t have to wait for her anymore in the mornings.
It wasn’t until mama reached around age 88, did she stop caring about her hair, or even wanting to keep it short. She used to tell me, “don’t ever let me grow my hair long and look like granny gurt.” I never knew any granny gurt… so I’m thinking it was just an old expression. But in her older years, she did grow her hair long, and there was nothing I could say to her, that would change her mind on cutting it. Mama was a beautician years ago and had always cut her own hair, keeping it short… and it confused me when she stopped cutting and caring about it. Finally I gave up, and said nothing else about hair cuts.
Mama in her graduation photo… which I’m assuming, as it was the photo she gave Daddy in the Navy before they married…. marrying right after graduation on May 29th, 1948.
I think this photograph was taken after she married in 1948… most likely in Memphis Tenn., as daddy was in the Navy and stationed at Millington Naval Base. Mama didn’t return with him immediately after marrying… telling me that they needed to save money before she could go. She lived with his parents and worked at the local mill, but hated it! She went back to live with her parents on the farm and it wasn’t long after, that her father gave her money to go to Tenn. Mama often talked about living in Memphis there… and how she’d take the bus and go into Memphis and walk around during the day as she was lonely when daddy was working. She always swore that she saw Elvis there once… strumming his guitar outside the Army-Navy store… who knows maybe it was him!
Within a few years of graduation, about 1953… looks like the hair went shorter. Maybe it became easier in chasing after me. I never cut my hair when I had children… it seemed to grow even longer… although many told me I should cut my hair… but I never listened! I never knew where this photograph was taken… as we all wore coats… so I’m assuming it wasn’t on a Florida vacation. At least I’m not the only one not smiling in this photo!
Seems to have kept her shorter brown hair here…. I was around 5 when this photo was taken in Union Point.
It was after we moved to Perry (1957) that mama became a beautician… and the hair changed from brown to blonde… guess that came about in beauty school. After mama graduated from cosmetology school, she went to work at Clara’s Beauty Shop in Perry. She had always enjoyed working with hair… me, not so much! I remember having hissy fits in even trying to put rollers in my hair… as those little stick pins would never hold… I”d eventually yank them out to throw them across the room. I was never good or even liked styling my hair.
Mama (left) at beauty school… the beginning the many new hairstyles!
Mama always told lots of jokes to her clients as she styled their hair… she never forgot a joke! Years later, she’d still laugh over the joke a 90-plus year old woman told her once. As she washed her hair, laying back in the washing bowl, she asked mama, “did you ever see a one-eyed sex maniac?” About the time mama caught her breath in hearing that, the woman placed her hand over one eye! Mama just fell over on the counter laughing… as she had never expected this woman to tell that joke! I’m sure it was repeated to many clients!
My favorite memories of her working in the beauty shop was the many cakes and cookies that came home at Christmas. Almost everyone brought a tray of their favorite baked goodies as a gift when they came to have their hair styled… daddy and I definitely enjoyed. That was the first time I tasted the Southern favorite of Divinity with Georgia pecans… the best! Mama was a great cook, but never a baker.
Mama also brought home sign language cards from people who stopped in to pass out… and hoped for a donation. Every time she’d bring them home, I’d start back up trying to learn sign language… it always fascinated me how people communicated with their hands.
This photo above was taken in our house on Hillcrest Ave… and I’m assuming I took it. Love seeing the spinning wheel lamp, although I have no real memory of it. The art on the brick wall was made by mama… they are thread cones from the mill Granddaddy Bryan worked in. This might have been during her gold period… let me explain. I’ve always noticed that mama often painted things different colors through the years… seems gold might have been the first, then later black, then gray. I can just picture granddaddy stuffing his overalls with cones daily and walking home with them sticking out of his pockets; he lived just down the street from the mill and walked back and forth to work, as many locals did.
While the blonde hair remained… it soon became more puffy with teasing! Mama here with a friend on a trip to Texas. She always reminded me more of an airline stewardess in this photograph… which is something she always wanted to be later in life, but the rules hadn’t changed at that time to allow older women to fly. If rules had changed, she surely would have taken to the wild blue wonders of the sky! It was this hairstyle that she began her phase of only wearing “one” earring… as she swept her hair over one ear… and soon became her trademark.
Her hair might have been taken down a notch here… and for some reason her outfit here reminds me of a pantsuit I had years before this…. Hmm maybe she took it apart and revamped herself an outfit. I’m sure, wherever the fabric came from, she sewed it. I don’t remember mama ever buying clothes off the rack… as they never suited her!
Probably after the show “I Dream of Jeannie” first aired… mama’s hairstyle changed once again. The teased hair was then replaced with a high ponytail and a braid wrapped around… although the blonde color still remained. She kept this style for more years than I approved of, but I guess she was reliving her teen years she missed out on. In one way, I felt I had become the adult, and she the teenager. (photo taken on one of her few trips to Connecticut… she really hated leaving Ga. soil) Mama was saying goodbye to granddaughter Melissa at airport!
Mama in her “Jeannie” ponytail… in one of the few snows she saw in Georgia!
Mama must have had this photo taken in a studio as I have a large photo of it… taken during her “Jeannie” years. She had a beautiful complexion… only used Oil of Olay all her life.
On one of our yearly trips to visit Mama, we arrived to find her hair still short, but more flat… she decided she now didn’t want to fuss with hair anymore. This was taken on a trip to Helen, Georgia. She could never go anywhere without the earrings, necklace, bracelet and purse. I guess she didn’t feel dressed otherwise! (Mama with grandson Steve)
The blonde hair poofed up a little more later on. Me, I never changed my hairstyle too much through the years, it was always long and straight… although I can’t understand my curly hair when I was young. Mama always said that as it grew, the curls grew out. She often mentioned cutting my hair short one time, and saying that she only did that once… as I hated it so much that I cried and cried over how short it was…. she said afterward, that she’d never cut it again.
Mama at her “other daughter’s” house… which is what we’ve always called her best friend Donna… her other daughter. Donna and I refer to each other as Ct. sis and Ga. sis. She has always been there for my mother through the years, when I couldn’t be, and is still there for me. Most holidays, mama ate dinner with Donna and her family.
Did you notice that mama never wore a hat… she hated hats and probably the only one she ever wore was a decorative one I made when she went as Minnie Pearl to a Halloween party… stay tuned to see if I found a photo!
My last photo of Mama will be at the end of my A to Z posts!
My previous years of A to Z Challenges:
- 2016: A to Z Southern Foods and Memories… they said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.
- 2017: A to Z Conversations with Mama… it was a somewhat easy one for me to write as I’d journaled our conversations for years… I researched favorite topics to write.
- 2018: A to Z All About Nancy Drew… this one has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another one to equal it
- 2019: A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories… I felt it was time to finally write the favorites of my husbands family foods.
- 2020: A to Z Family Stories… writing the stories of my husband’s family.
For more A to Z of Mama in Photos… click HERE!
© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved