Picture courtesy of S.A. Johnson
As you know, I do not like the heat, the sun or the Good Ole Summertime. The only thing worse is being shipped off to summer camp IN the heat, UNDER the sun, IN the Good Ole Summertime. My parents decided that I was a wimp and needed to be toughened up, so they saved up and sent me packing to Mentone, Alabama to Camp Desoto for a month. (Oh, I know I am horrifying all you Campies who went there, but frankly, it was thirty days of pure unadulterated misery for me.) I begged not to go, but Mother & Daddy were determined. So off I trudged with a footlocker stuffed with matching madras shorts sets, my family's picture, an autograph book and all the bug spray my bag could hold.
My friend, Greer and I were roommates with about twelve other "fortunate" girls. We had a counselor who kept the fan aimed directly on her. My bed was the farthest from the fan..of course. Let me explain about Greer. She had (and still has) the loveliest, thickest, waviest hair. Her mother and grandmother kept it in perfect condition, and it was the envy of everybody. My hair, on the other hand, was exactly as it is now, very fine, straight as a board and thin. Greer's mother made sure she had a bag full of hair rollers to take to camp. When I saw those rollers, I melted. I NEEDED those rollers. My mother said I'd be fine with just washing my hair and letting it go "natural" for a month.
One night I asked Greer (who had decided if "natural" was good enough for me, it was good enough for her) if I could use the rollers. My hair, by this time, looked like a newborn duck's. She said, "Sure. I don't need them." Those were her exact words, I remember them like yesterday. So every night I carefully rolled my hair. Every morning I'd brush and comb mine and I must say, I looked pretty good for "roughing it" in the backwoods of Alabama.
At the end of two weeks, parents could come visit their camper and take them "to town" for the weekend. I had dreamed nightly of this for 14 days. Greer's parents were coming to get her, and they were taking me, too! Air conditioning, real food, a bath tub...I could make it with this "carrot" dangling in front of me. I crossed off the calendar every day...waiting, waiting. My parents couldn't afford the trip with two other children. Greer was an only child. I was one of three. (Side note: Three of my best friends were only children. I was the only one with siblings. When we all married, all three of them had more than one child, I had one.) But I digress...the day of the parental visit finally came. I was up early, curling, combing, dressing in my matching madras short set, I couldn't wait!! When Mr. and Mrs. B got out of the car it was like a slow mo movie...me, running toward them, their arms stretched outward, but just before I reached them, a look of horror crossed Mrs. B's face and she looked like she might faint. "Greer!" she shrieked, " Your hair! What on earth have you done to it?" I looked back over my shoulder, to see Greer walking down the driveway with the most unusual hairstyle I've ever seen. She looked like a little alien with a cloud of dark brown moss surrounding her head. It was the most out of control hair I'd ever seen. I'm not sure she had combed or brushed it properly in 14 days. I knew she hadn't rolled it..because I had her rollers!
The horror continued. We went to the office to "check out" and "Oh, wait, there's a problem. You have to have written permission to take Angela with you." WHAT?! WRITTEN permission? I couldn't go? Mrs. B began to cry, I began to cry. Greer offered to stay at camp and said I could go in her place. I will remember it always, that scene. Me standing at the gates, perfectly coiffured, dressed in my madras, big tears running down my face waving good bye. When they returned from the weekend, Greer's hair was back to normal and they brought me a present. (I think it was a bag of new rollers.)
Lessons to be learned:
1. Make sure your hairstyle can withstand the temperatures of your camping destination.
2. Don't send sensitive children to month long camps without hair styling supplies.
3. Once a wimp, in a lot of ways, always a wimp.
Coming Tomorrow: Grandchildren ...