Saturday, February 16, 2008

IS THERE A REBEL IN THE CROWD?



Diane, you asked me to tell about how I "changed my hair style". I can't tell that without letting the "rebel" show through. There was a lot of things that led up to that day.
I was raised in a very conservative atmosphere. I do not regret the upbringing that I had and how I learned to know the Lord as my personal Savior. I still hold to those conservative principals. However, there was a lot of legalism in our home that did not come from the church. It was like our "religion became a lot about what we wore, and how we wore our hair. I was not allowed to wear boby sox, I wore long cotton stockings. I could not wear jeans or slacks. I could not wear sleeveless blouses, so when the choir wore sleeveless blouses, I had to wear one with sleeves. I was not allowed to cut my hair, so I wore braids. Since we needed to wear jeans (or shorts) for gym, Mom bought me a pair of jeans (Lord forbid that I would have a pair of shorts). I also had 1 pair of bobby sox to wear for gym. So, the rebel in me, stopped at the lane south of our house and changed my long stockings for my bobby sox. Then, on the way home, I would stop again and change back into the long cotton stockings. When we made our blouses for choir, I tried to put sleeves in mine that I could tuck up under to appear sleeveless, but it didn't work.
I never felt like I "fit in" with the other kids. I always struggled with my weight so I blamed all my unhappiness on that and the different way I dressed and wore my hair. I found myself resenting my parents, especially my father, for not allowing me to be involved in school activities.
I started making plans to get my hair cut several weeks before I actually had it done. I saved my lunch money, and then one Tuesday afternoon, I skipped school and made an appointment with Julia to get my hair cut and a perm. It cost $5.00 so I had to save for five weeks to get enough money. When I arrived at the beauty shop, Maxine Goodwin was working there. She quickly called Julia and told her that I was there. Julia didn't think I would go through with it. Maxine put rubber bands around my braids and when Julia came she cut off the braids first, then styled and permed my hair. It was pretty short, compared to braids that came down to the middle of my back and hair I could sit on. Julia kept those braids in her shop for a long time after that, showing them to other patrons. By the way, I don't remember getting in trouble for skipping school, either at school or at home. Hmmm?
My sister, Ruth, and I went home and started doing the usual stack of dirty dishes in the sink, etc., then all of the sudden I said, "Oh my, I forgot to change my socks." Ruth said, "Your socks!! What about your HAIR? Needless to say, Mom came home before long and, of course she asked, "When did you get that done?" and "Who did it?" I explained in as few words as possible, then a little later I heard her talking on the phone to my Dad and she said, "It's pretty short."
Mom and we kids were planning to go to Grenola for a youth rally, so Dad told her to come by the station before we went. I don't remember much about what he said then but he let me know that when we got home, he would have more to say. I was scared all evining about what he would do.
When we got home, as I walked in the door, there was a long switch laying across the bar in the kitchen/dining room. I fully expected him to "wear it out" on me which was a term he used frequently. He sat me down in a chair in the living room and began talking to me about what a bad thing I had done, threatening to take my accordion away, my piano, and everything else that I held dear. I sat there until 1 a.m. hearing him rant and rave, thinking all the time, "Yes you can take all those things away, and you can "wear that switch out on me" but you can't put that hair back on my head." Suprisingly enough, he didn't use the switch at all, "Thank God", and Mom sent me on to bed. On the following Saturday, Dad took my two younger sisters, Ruth and Donna, out to Goldie Hardie's and she cut their hair. It was somewhat longer than mine, but that was one battle I would not have to fight again. I had blazed the trail for my sisters.
Oh, yes, there were other battles, but I won't get into that at this time.
I do believe it made me feel better about myself and I felt more accepted.
When I came back to Cedar Vale this time, I wondered if some of those old feelings would come back to haunt me, but, I must admit, I don't think about it much. I know who I am now and am not trying to find myself or make a big impression on others, so people will have to accept me as I am. And they do. I have felt a welcome here. I can't say its "like coming home" but I am content here until circumstances change again.
You taught me a new word, Diane. I'm sure I had heard it before but it has not been a part of my vocabulary. "Moxie?" (courage, determination) Maybe! It was probably the first time of many that I became tired of the way things were going and felt it was time to make a change in my life.

(Before and after photos added by Gary White.)

8 comments:

Gary White said...

Naomi, I do remember your long braids coiled around your head, but I don't remember when you got your hair cut. Was it while we were in high school? All of us rebels are cheering for your "Moxie!" Great memory piece.

Naomi said...

Gary:
It was during my sophomore year, '55-'56. It was before school pictures because I still had the braids in the '55 annual.
I might add, I went to the beauty shop Friday, and "changed my hair style" but none will ever be as drastic as the first one. Ha!

Phil Foust said...

You are (indeed) quite a gal, Naomi! Thanks for a revealing snippet of your life.

Gary White said...

Well, Naomi, since I graduated in the spring of 1955 I never got to see your new do!

wayne woodruff said...

Naomi, I never knew you well, but do remember the clothing and hair style. Your story reveals a person who knew/knows what she wants and knows what is right, and sets out to accomplish that. You have to be admired.

Gary White said...

A winning smile, with or without pigtails.

Diane Archer Bradbury said...

Naomi, you might be surprised at the number of students who were cheering you on when you displayed such courage. You certainly were admired and I'm sure many others besides me wondered if they could have had that much intestional fortitude to carry out such a mission.

Surely by now the word moxie must have an official definition and I say your name is in that definition somewhere. If not, it should be!

Phil Foust said...

Hear, hear!