I was born and raised in the small fishing community of Branch. My older sister, Jean and I advanced from childhood to adolescence in the late 50s and early 60s.
Like all teenage girls, we were interested in high heels, perfume and new hairstyles. Our little hamlet possessed no makeup counters nor beauty parlours. Thus, our attempts at beautification were left to our own devices.
Our high heels and simple cosmetics came from the Eaton’s or Simpson-Sears’ catalogue. Our hairdos, however, were a bit more time consuming and complicated.
Jean’s hair was as straight as a whip while I was cursed with kinky, hard-to-handle curls. Somewhere we had purchased a few dozen gigantic wire rollers which were fastened to the hair with plastic picks. Jean put these mammoth curlers in her hair to curl it while I used them in an attempt to straighten mine. Off to bed we would go with nylon scarves tied around the irritating spirals. Sleeping with this extra mechanism attached to our crowns was no easy task. However, as most teenagers are accustomed to doing, we managed, not only to sleep soundly, but to over sleep on many mornings.
Sometimes, when my efforts to beautify my wiry locks did not succeed, I had to depend on Jean to press my hair on a board with a red-hot iron. Needless to say, this was often an unsettling experience, but when we are young, we are game for anything. I guess some of the discomforts I now feel on my scalp are scars from long ago follies.
I distinctly recall one fine summer’s evening when we had our hair styles completed and our makeup in place. Dressed in our best duds, we were gallivanting proudly down our lane en route to one of our teenage get-togethers. I am sure we were feeling gratified by our previous three or four hours’ work. We were almost safely down the lane when we spotted our neighbour Dermot. He was sitting on an upturned bucket busily attending to his evening chore of milking one of his father’s cows. His friendly smile and his cheery voice enticed us to pause for some pleasant chatter. This gesture of familiarity was our undoing.
Before we could jump out of the line of fire, our impish friend had squirted a heavy spray of the healthy white liquid directly at our ill-fated hairdos. A flood of milk made quick work of our many hours’ laboor, as warm droplets trickled down our faces and necks. Poor Bossy looked at us apologetically as our devilish pal ran away with his pail of milk. I can still hear his shouts of laughter as he retreated.
Today, I laugh to myself when I picture the two of us standing in the lane, dressed to kill, spitting out milk, using a few mild expletives, with heads of hair that resembled wet mops. I am certain we did not continue to our evening sojourn. Later, we must have spent hours planning ways to get even. However, I am sure we did not get our revenge because the wily Dermot was always too smart for us. Later, in life, this lad used his smarts to become a wonderful educator and a fine adult.
— Marina Power Gambin was born and raised in her beloved Branch, St. Mary’s Bay. She is a retired teacher who lives in Placentia where she taught for almost three decades. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org