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The Salon

by Eva Pasco 

The SalonSome historians claim "The Sixties" arrived on June 15, 1955 when antinuclear activists protested a civil defense drill, and ended with the final U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975. For me, the middle of the Sixties revolved around The Salon. Every Saturday morning my mother, sister, and I would slide along the backseat of my Aunt Evelyn’s coral and white, bat-winged, Chevy Impala. My uncle chomped on a cigar while chatting good naturedly at the wheel, chauffeuring us downtown. He’d drop the four of us off curbside along Eddy Street for my mother and aunt’s weekly hair appointment at their cousin’s posh salon.

The repertoire of Sixties hair styles included the "beehive" or raised bouffant transforming even the thinnest and weakest of tresses into voluminous oomph. Such sculptures mandated that hair be prepped with a wash n’ set which involved wrapping sections of hair around brush rollers, and sitting under a hardtop bonnet dryer until baked. The comb-out required extensive "teasing" with a rat comb before smoothing into a helmet and preserving the look with generous amounts of hairspray or lacquer. Such fussy hair styles as my mother’s puffs and my aunt’s bubble demanded the ministrations of a pro— their cousin—hairstylist to the theatrical.

Though curbside, gaining access to the salon on the opposite side of the street restricted to pedestrians, necessitated our entourage make a grand entrance through Woolworth’s. The savory smell of chicken soup emanating from behind the counter permeated the store while we made time to browse the aisles. I dawdled by the shelves displaying Rhode Island souvenirs, fascinated by seashells and miniature lighthouses.

Once inside the salon, my sister and I sat on the leather sofa, leafing through hairstyle magazines and watching my cousin work his magic to create glamorous hairdos sprinkled with glitter for the exotic dancers who frequented his salon. I will never forget being introduced to Bobby Vinton’s songwriter who waited for his wife while she had her hair done.

When super model Twiggy, "The Face of 1966," popularized her ultra short, boyish, Vidal Sassoon haircut, my cousin created a buzz by deftly wielding his scissors to duplicate the latest geometric cut on my cousins Gail, Deborah, and me. We just had to have our ears pierced after that.

My uncle swung by in the early evening to pick us up and squire us to dinner either at Luke’s, the Chinese restaurant in Kennedy Plaza, or per chance Mainelli’s or Welcome’s on Chalkstone Avenue in the Providence burbs. The Salon offered my sister and me a rich cultural experience off the straight and narrow path. My cousin accommodated people from all walks of life and circumstances, making everyone feel like a million bucks when they walked out of his salon.

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Underlying Notes by Eva Pasco  An E. Quiche by Eva Pasco



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