My dolls had, for many years, endured the many creative hairstyles I'd given them. Now it was on to real people. I was approximately 8 or 9 years old, and Gramma and I were enjoying the day from the front porch of the house where our family lived with my mother's mother . I was issued a verbal invitation to comb Gramma's hair, and I never turned that down. It was my first step toward my chosen future-career.
As Gramma sat with her hands in her lap, I gently removed the large,gray hairpins from her bun, allowing the soft, silky hair she had never cut to fall down her back. First I brushed the hair back, with long, even strokes. After a time of this, she requested that I use the comb and give it some pressure across her scalp. I did as I was asked, and then, after a while, decided that it was time to 'curl' Gramma's hair. It wasn't long before I realized that twisting the comb upward on locks which fell well below her shoulders was not a good idea. She could not tell as she sat what was happening, but I could see that I'd made a bad decision, and I worked to release the tangled comb. No amount of effort on my part was producing good results. Before long, Gramma sensed that something was not quite right. She felt behind her head, and realized that there was an implement wound up in her hair, and it was feeling to her hands like quite a mess.
We called in the aide of my mother and my aunt. Oh dear! I felt as if I was going to hear a good tongue lashing over this one. I don't know if I felt worse by then about what I thought would be my fate or over what I'd caused in the first place. One at a time they tried to remove the comb, and though they had some success in moving the item further from Gramma's scalp, they could not release it fully from the length of hair. Nothing was to be done, but to clip off the strand at the lowest point possible. I knew I was in trouble then! I felt awful as Gramma was close to tears and fretting as I'd never seen her do before.
After the deed was done, Gramma sat with the comb in her hands, pulling the wads of her hair out of it, she gently instructed me to never do that again. My mother gave me a scolding too, letting me know that I was to use the tools to only brush and comb, not to try curling. I thought that I'd never need to worry about it, as I feared I'd never again have the invitation to 'play' with Gramma's long hair.
However, I was wrong. With a soft reminder to not try to curl the hair, I was soon back in business. I learned to make a braid on Gram's head, and often at night I would brush it many times before I braided it for bed. When I was a little bit older, I was asked to wash her hair and put the bluing in it for her, so that the color would be more silvery than the dingy, yellowy-gray that she thought it was. From then on, it was my job to do, and I knew I'd been forgiven for my past mistake.