Aunt Trucene had a flair for hair. Backcombing was her specialty. I hear tell that her beehives could and did hold their own through several hurricane-force winds back in the early 1970s. The true test of a beauty operator”s teasing talents has always been whether it can hold its own through a Saturday night pre-church sleep wrapped in all manner of things from toilet paper to satin hair bonnets.
Some women make amazing sacrifices just to show up for Sunday service as a beacon of style, a bona fide matriarch of helmet hair. Mama always had a blue and gold aerosol can of Aquanet within an arm”s reach and a second and third under the bathroom cabinets.
In an attempt to be presentable for the morning service with dinner-on-the-grounds and still bulletproof through the evening choir practice, women of all denominations passed through Aunt Trucene”s mauve styling chair.
It”s a rite of passage for most Southern beauties to go through the rituals for Sunday worship. Armed with nothing more than the Holy Bible and homemade chicken salad, the beehives, pompadours and French rolls showed up and showed out week after week at my little country Baptist church in the woods. The preacher got all worked up while Sis. Bobbie Jean banged the keys of that piano. As a little boy standing up on the pews beside my daddy, I was jubilant. It was as deep as the Sea of Galilee, with neighborhood women donning finger waves, pageboys and bobby pins set to the music of out-of-tune sopranos, altos and tenors singing through the hymns of my childhood. I was in love with it all.
I believe it was right then and there at age 10 that I first fell in love with hairstyling. Maybe I coveted the dollar bills Aunt Trucene would stuff into her cleavage while putting the finishing spritz on a bun, or maybe it was truly her superb artistry.
Weighing in at no more than 100 pounds soaking wet, Bashful Blonde No. 12 was my daddy”s sister, usually smacking gum while she rolled up a shampoo set and beginning sentences with, “Well, you didn”t hear this from me but … ” She was hands down the best beautician in the entire county.
A true testament of her surefire God-given talents was her loyal following. You just about had to know somebody or kill somebody to get a treasured appointment in Trucy”s Beauty Parlor, and that”s no lie. From sun up to sundown, she hot rolled, pin curled, wet set, dyed, fried and laid aside brunettes, blondes, redheads and more with the calm assurance that it would make it through to Wednesday night prayer meeting … if not the promised land.
I have such a fondness for my Aunt Trucene, not for surviving a rattlesnake bite that ended her up in the local hospital for weeks, no, sirree; and not for her divine fashion sensibility. (Nobody could work a black and white jumpsuit better!) No, I treasure my auntie for those styles that should have put her in the Hairdo Hall of Fame. She was shear genius with a rat-tailed comb; with a wiggly little boy”s bangs, maybe not so much.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
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