For some reason, I got to thinking about old barbershops while washing my hair this morning. When I was a kid the thing was to wash your hair and then splash on a ton of hair oil or tonic before combing. When you got a haircut the barber did the same. Before running a comb through your hair he’d splash on a generous dose of some very sweet smelling oil. The wet head certainly wasn’t dead in the 1950s.
One fad during that era was the flattop and it too had its own petroleum-based product, Butch Wax. The barber would meticulously get your top hairs short and level and then to hold it all upright, in defiance of gravity, he’d slap on a large glob of some gooey gel that your mother would play hell getting washed out of the pillowcases.
The flat top wasn’t the only style that called for Butch Wax or something sticky. No ducktail or waterfall could withstand the forces of nature without a gel. Sometime in the last century, a bunch of us were getting ready for a Fifties Sock Hop dance and we couldn’t get our ducks to stay put with just water. I went to the local sundry store and picked up a can of Royal Crown Promenade and passed it around. With ducks and falls secure we headed for the dance. Unfortunately one of my Royal Crown lubricated friends had a car wreck later that evening and ended up in the hospital for a couple of weeks. During that time the nurses, because of his injuries, didn’t attempt washing his hair. After his discharge, he received the bill and on the list of charges was a number of ruined pillowcases. Their laundry simply couldn’t get the RCP out. They didn’t charge K-Mart prices either.
In my case, I washed my hair repeated times using everything I could find under the kitchen sink and nothing seemed to faze it. Finally, I went to a nearby gas station and bought a small amount of gasoline. Using it and shampoo I finally got most of the grease out and my hair gradually began to move with the breeze again.
It’s been many years since I’ve had my hair cut in a regular men’s barbershop so I don’t know what today’s procedures are. Over the years my wife and a local hair salon have taken turns keeping my ever-graying locks under control. But, even after all the years, I can still smell the sweet aroma of a man’s tonsorium.
SOME of the CLASSIC HAIR TONICS