Back In the Day

Let’s take a journey. Shall we? Back to the 1970’s.

I was in elementary school in the 1970’s. The plaid pants and bright red knee socks are but a blurred image in my mind. Playing I Spy in Mrs. Dunn’s First Grade Class with the miniature stop light. Loose teeth.... Yes, that was a very long time ago.

I remember music class with Mr. Burrick in the old red pole building. The instruments seemed so big and shiny. He had an old trunk that was big enough for at least four of us children to hide in. It was never opened and, to us kids, it was extremely creepy. Mr. Burrick seemed an okay music teacher until the October day when he told us kids the story of The Monkey’s Paw. Now what kind of a teacher would do that? In the music room there was also a set of metal stairs that led up to a small room. The ceiling of this pole building was all open except for this small room. The door was never open, and I seem to vaguely remember Mr. Burrick telling us kids about the crazy person that lived up there….

I was in Third Grade when we left the 70’s and the 80’s were upon us. Us kids sat in our usual morning circle around our teacher, Mrs. Davis. Every teacher had an extra large pad of paper on an easel and Mrs. Davis was no exception. We sat there in front of her one morning as she went over the day’s agenda that had been written in perfect cursive on the extra-large pieces of paper. When she got to part of telling us the date, she made a big deal out of it and then explained that it was now 1980. That sounded so foreign to me! So futuristic. I found that I kept repeating “nineteen-eighty” throughout the rest of the day because it sounded so funny. I also made a special point to telling my parents that evening. I don’t necessarily recall the look they gave me, but I’m guessing it was quite a perplexed look.

Fourth Grade’s memories include drinking warm milk from the carton and eating peanuts scooped daily from the 2-gallon can that was kept high up on the shelf. (Yes, I believe these were called government issued peanuts.) I can also recall my long lost hand-made macramé choker with beads that spelled my name. The Fourth Grade teacher, Mrs. Mackey, made one for each of us kids, as she did for all of the classes who had gone before us. Mine was red with one blue bead on each end of my name. I loved it!

Sixth Grade was much more serious. We were the oldest class in elementary school. We were the oldest kids on the playground. We were really (finally) all that! We started paying attention to the kids ahead of us in high school, wondering how they coped without a recess in their day. We began wearing bras and feathering our hair. The cool kids kept combs in their back pockets. I got my glasses in Sixth Grade. I loved them! They were a pastel pink and blue with a lens that was tinted blue. I broke them within the first week of wearing them. Mom didn’t seem to mad since she had purchased the optional insurance plan that came with them.

Then we finally became high-schoolers. We attended classes in the same three-story building with the really cool kids. The preppies, the athletes, the cheerleaders. We got to sit in the cool chairs; each had its own tiny desktop attached. (It must have finally occurred to someone that those chairs aren’t very ergonomic because I don’t see them being used anymore.)

School shopping was so much more stressful now. Mom couldn’t simply bring home new sweaters, jeans and shoes that she had bought at Penney’s while she was on her lunch break. OH NO! We had to do the shopping ourselves. We had to buy the right jeans that fit just so and the high-top Nike’s that we kept untied. And, OMG, if you didn’t have parachute pants, a neon-colored, oversized t-shirt and a Swatch watch, then you seriously needed to prepare yourself to be taunted and teased.

The hair now had to be perfectly feathered and teased, which took sooo much product, it wasn’t funny. All of us could have made a fortune if we had only invested in AquaNet! You think I’m kidding? Please read on…

My school day morning routine consisted of the usual shower and, of course, shaving the legs, because you simply couldn’t let anyone see stubble over the super-cool, perfectly slouched socks. Once dressed in the slim fitting jeans, the ones with the zipper by the ankle, and the perfect turtleneck and sweater combo, it was on to the makeup and hair. Almost all of the girls wore the blue eye shadow, some even dared to wear the electric blue mascara. And those lucky enough to have pierced ears usually wore large earrings that perfectly matched the exact color of their sweater.

“The making of the 80’s hair” deserves its own paragraph. As I mentioned, you showered first, because you could not achieve the great heights necessary if you started with dry hair. Do not comb the hair. I repeat: Do not comb the hair. The curling iron would sit heating on the counter during the getting dressed and makeup process. (There was no way in the world you would be able to pull anything over your head after the hair was done, so getting dressed always came before the hair.) You would start with some mousse, using way more than the directions stated. After running the mousse through the hair and rubbing it into the roots, the hair-drying would commence. With the blow-dryer on high and bending over so your hair hung up-side-down you would completely dry your hair, using only your fingers to “scrunch” the hair as it dried. Do not comb the hair. After standing upright, and thanking God that there were no boys there to see you at this point, you would move as little as possible while you proceeded to spray your hair with a very light coating of the AquaNet. On to the curling iron…. All of the hair would be curled back in the same direction except for the very front section of bangs; those were curled down towards the face. The process went like this:

1)      Pick up small section of hair.
2)      Lightly coat with AquaNet.
3)      Proceed to clamp with curling iron and roll it down to the scalp.
4)      While waiting for steam (or was that smoke) to rise from scalp, quickly give it another light coat of AquaNet.
5)      Unwrap the curled section of hair from curling iron and move on to new section.
6)      Do not comb the hair.
7)      When all hair has been curled, grab a fine-tooth comb and proceed to rat the heck out of the stiff, sticky, curled hair.
8)      Then finger through the hair gently to give it that tousled/feathered look.
9)      You can then re-curl any sections of hair that seem to have come slightly un-curled.
10)  Suck in breath and then proceed to coat all over with AquaNet.
11)  Do not move while waiting for hair to completely dry.

If it was windy or rainy out, you might as well call in sick to school for the day, because you simply could not show up to school with “flat” hair. It should easily stand up off of your scalp at least a good two to three inches.

Off to school…

To Be Continued…