Friday, March 26, 2010

Childhood Evenings: Quilts, Boots, and Mom's Hair

Evenings in our home when I was growing up were cozy family affairs. We always had sit-down dinners with each of us having our place at the table. (Casy sat beside my dad in what he called the “training seat”.) Even after Casy and then Susan left for college, we continued to sit in the same places with their seats left empty. After dinner, we retreated to the family room to watch TV as a family.

I remember primetime including Little House on the Prairie, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and The Waltons. (Saturday nights we watched Love Boat and Fantasy Island.) If you left your seat, someone else was likely to steal it while you were out of the room. Dad usually lay on the shag carpeting with a quilt made by our Great Grandma Mostrom. (I still have mine and was snuggled under it tonight!) Of course, dad was also famous for kicking back in his recliner and then asking the daughter who happened to walk by, “Would you pull off my boots?” He always wore boots. My father very rarely wore tennis shoes when I was a kid.

My mother, however, almost always sat in front of one of us on the floor and asked, “Do you want to do my hair?” We had containers of barrettes, curlers, combs, brushes, pony tail holders, and bobby pins. I wonder how many hours each of us spent fixing my mother’s hair. Sometimes we tried hard to make her look beautiful while other times we did our best to make her look silly. She didn’t care—she just loved the feel of her girls playing with her hair. Her famous line when we handed her the handheld mirror was, “Now if we could just do something about the face!” This just made us chuckle. We knew she was beautiful with her perfect smile and adorable dimple.

As I think back about it, I can almost feel and even smell her hair. She always kept it fairly short and I don’t remember a time that she didn’t color it. We had these horrible black poky curlers with pink plastic pens to hold them in place. I remember filling her hair with these and then pretending the curls were set so I could take them out, style her hair, and spray it with hairspray. We had Dippity Doo to hold stray hairs in place and Happy Hair to help get out the tangles.

When we go home to visit now, my mom often sits in front of one of the granddaughters and asks, “Would you like to do my hair?” My girls have both had the pleasure of styling my mother’s hair as she sat patiently and enjoyed the attention while they watched something together on TV.

Yesterday at Tana’s first swim meet, Annie sat in front of me in the bleachers. After a while, she turned around and asked, “Mom, will you mess with my hair?” I didn’t have the brushes, bobby pins, or curlers so I just used my fingers to comb her hair. When I would get distracted and stop, she would turn around and beg me to continue. She’s so much like my mom…especially when she flashes that dimple.