It was the day Mama lost her cool. Completely.
The reason: a haircut about 50 years before its time. It was the bowl look
--on my head.
It probably happened in the late Summer of 1942, right before the start
of school when I was close to 11.
Robby Orvin had been the family barber for years. His shop, with barber
pole, was at the corner of King and Simmons streets, attached to the Rose
Garden Pharmacy in a wooden frame building. There probably were living quarters
on the second floor.
The Rose Garden was where we bought our comics and movie magazines and
Mama bought citric acid for her cabbage soup. There was even a one-window
post office there.
Sidney remembers the wicker furniture and the hair tonics and powders on
the shelves of the barber shop. He also remembers Robby jerking his (Sidney's)
head when he and I would be in the shop at the same time, giggling
I liked to look through the magazines -- Liberty, Colliers, Saturday Evening
Post. Knowing that I was a big baseball fan, Robby would sometimes quiz
me about the teams and players. "How many home runs does Joe DiMaggio
have?" I could whip off the answers in a second.
The day of the famous haircut, I had walked the six or so blocks from the
house by myself, probably thinking I would stop in the drug store for a
comic book on the way home.
Robby had a helper in that day and when your turn came, you couldn't say,
"I want Robby," so I had to go with the new guy.
I smelled the alcohol on his breath. I knew what he was doing, but I was
too scared to say anything.
What he did was give
me a bowl haircut, shaved
above the ears. It would
have been in style today.
I was terribly embarrassed.
I didn't stop in the drug store
for a comic book or a movie magazine but went
straight home via the railroad tracks so no one would see me. I remember
putting a sweatshirt on my head. Sidney says I came home with a green and
red stripped T-shirt (then known as a polo shirt) on my head.
Anyway, Mama took one look at me and exploded.
Mickey says Mama was ready to commit murder.
We all agree that she grabbed me, jumped in the car and the two of us sped
over to the barber shop.
By the time we got there, Robby had already fired his helper, but Mom gave
him an earful anyway.
Sidney says he thought I wasn't too upset. I
thought I cried all the way home. I also refused to go to school until my
hair was presentable,
and Sidney says he was jealous of me because I got to miss school.
George was away in the Army when this all happened.
Solly says he doesn't remember it but he does remember Robby as "a
loquacious nice guy, a man who seemed to be well pleased with his occupation."
But probably not the day he ran into Mama.