My crowning glory? Not so much.

Nov 20, 2021 | 0 comments

Medora, circa 1913

My grandmother felt that a woman’s hair was “her crowning glory” and,  was full of advice for her eldest daughter, Medora — even by letter when Medora was away at boarding school.  In this note, written on November 2,  1914, she said:

 I do hope you are not slicking up the sides of your hair.  I know it will take the curl out.  Ruth ought to be a continual object lesson to you as to how pretty hair can be ruined.  You can leave it soft and curling around your face and still show your ears.  In fact, when you take the frame of your hair from your face it is like plucking the petals off a daisy and leaving the bald pod.  Some people’s hair is not a necessity.  Yours is – so is mine.

I’m not sure what she meant about her sister Ruth’s hair.  Try as I might, I can find no pictures of Ruth that show “ruined” hair.  But, Medora’s hair, was definitely an “issue” as the letter written just a week later demonstrates:

Medora, 1915

Tuesday, November 10, 1914
       Remember, I don’t want you to wear your hair up.  It does not matter who likes it up.  Up in back makes you look like a Dutch waitress in a German bakery.  On top is becoming, but too old.  With little curls sticking out of a psyche, you would be a picture, but wait for awhile.  I was in a rush to get mine on top, but am thankful my mother had me keep it down until graduation year.

I think that epistle would have stopped me dead in my tracks, but if it slowed Medora down, it was not for long.  In her diary of Thursday, March 18, 1915, Mama’s sixteen-year-old first born wrote:

I have been wearing my hair up for two weeks and I don’t like it at all but I want to impress people that I am old

Ruth Buzzi and Her Hairnet

She was still a year and a half away from graduation.  Perhaps in the interim Mama had relented.  I hope so because, against all odds, this lovely, vibrant girl died in her sleep, perhaps of an aneurysm, on January 18, 1916 — just 15 days after her 17th birthday and six months before her graduation.

I thought about my grandmother and Medora and crowning glories early this morning when I woke up from a fine night’s sleep during which I had apparently had been wired into an electrical outlet.  My hair, short and fine and tending toward frizz, was standing straight up all across the top of my head.  I think what I need is a Ruth Buzzi hairnet.  But don’t mention it to Granny!







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