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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Groomed

A dear friend on Google plus, Rich, made a post this evening that had me rolling down memory lane almost immediately. He shared some lovely photographs he had taken of his father's shaving implements, which were last used in November of 1976. There was a well-worn, and I imagine well-loved, shaving brush in a handsomely decorated shaving mug. Alongside this duo was a Gillette safety razor and double-edged refill blades. Many of us who saw this post remembered seeing the same implements, and some fondly remembered seeing fathers or grandfathers using these tools. Rich mentioned that even though the fragrance is gone, he can still remember the scent of the soap his father used for shaving. 

All of this touched me, and made me remember things as well. Gram had the same razor in her medicine cabinet. As young ladies, Liz and I used those safety razors to defuzz our legs. And they had to be handled with the utmost respect. They may have been known as safety razors, but if you didn't handle them with care, you were guaranteed to get cut. Okay, I remember one or two occasions when I lost a bit of skin from a shin or an ankle! 

Gram also had her father's straight razor, styptic pencil, and barber shears. Her dad was a man of many interests, and although I don't think he ever made his living barbering, he did go to barber school. The razor and shears were definitely made to last. Gram used the shears until she was ninety years old, and they still cut her hair beautifully. Amazing to think that scissors of that age were still working as if they were almost new. I wonder if today's barber shears having the same lasting power. 

Gram's hair-cutting and grooming routines were very simple. She would take out her dad's shears and cut her own hair. As she got older, she would ask me to cut the back for her, something that always intimidated me. But I guess I did okay. After shampooing her hair in the bathroom sink, she would blot her silvery hair with a towel and run her old-fashioned black haircomb through her naturally curly hair. She would shape it into Marcel waves in about ten seconds flat, and hold them in place with long hairpins. After it was dried, she had beautiful waves that flattered her soft face.

Although Gram was very much what would be considered low-maintenance, she sometimes did amazing things with my long hair. She could take a scarf and roll my hair up in it, tying it in the front, an adorable style in and of itself. After the scarf was unrolled, my hair was full of lovely curls. There were also a few times that she tore up strips of cloth and tied up my hair with them. Again, a head full of lovely waves and curls, with no special tools or gels or drama. I wish I had paid more attention to what she was doing so that I could have done it for myself when I got older. 

Reading what Rich said about remembering the scent of his father's shave soap made me think of something that Gram used that I loved the scent of - her face powder. She had Coty Airspun face powder with a soft puff. It had a lovely feminine scent. It smelled like something that would be used by a lady. I'm not sure if that powder is even made any more. If so, I think I could easily spend some time just standing by the store display, sniffing at the container, and drifting back through the years. I'd be watching Gram tidying her hair, powdering her face, and applying her red lipstick. I will admit that I'd love to buy some and use it; it made her face look lovely, maybe it would do the same for mine. And I know that using it would make me feel like a lady.

Times aren't as simple as they were back then. We've gotten ourselves in more of a hurry. We use all sorts of electric gadgets and disposable tools because we can't be bothered to engage in the grooming rituals of our forebears. I can't help but wonder if we are missing out on something. Taking a little time to slow down and catch our breath might be a good thing. We all need to be groomed, but maybe sometimes we should slow down and savor the moment. After all, wouldn't it be nice to occasionally treat ourselves like the ladies and gentlemen our parents and grandparents were?