This week, I had a chance to correspond with an old friend from Lewisburg, Bill Shaver. Bill and I go back a long way.
Bill was the athlete, an excellent pitcher who could bring the heat while I had to give it all I had to make a throw from third to first. Bill hit homers, I hit singles. Bill and I played basketball together and took various trips to Myrtle Beach, but one thing that stands out in my memory was the time both Bill and I decided to let our hair grow out and we got duck tail (or DA) haircuts.
Bill was spending the night at my house and we had both just got our hair cut into DAs. I remember Bill and I standing at the mirror for what must have been 30 minutes, trying to get our hair to perform. We brushed and brushed and preened and preened, only then did we head out to Jim’s Drive-In to check for chicks – with Wolfman Jack on the radio.
The evolution of haircuts for Boomers went from very short to very long in about 15 years. After WWII, almost of the guys had short hair. We had GI haircuts with pink scalp showing. Barbers drove Cadillacs back then because they could could buzz a guy’s hair in five minutes and get paid full price. In the early 50’s, we started wearing the top of our hair a little longer, so we could have flat tops with just enough hair sticking up in front that the slope would be flat. This continued until around the middle of the 50’s when James Dean and other teen movie stars began wearing duck tails – a flat top with longer hair on the sides that swept back and formed a mallard tail at the rear. After going all of our lives with short hair on the sides, it took quite a bit of training and lots of Bryll Cream to get that hair just right.
Butch Wax was another useful asset. That stuff was like pliable concrete. Once you got your hair just right and rubbed in a little Butch wax, it was set for life, or at least until your next serious shampoo. Often, I hated to shampoo because then I’d have to go through another Butch Wax regimen. In the early 60s with the invasion of the Beatles, hair styles went to very long. The golden days were over.
Bill and I look back to the 50s as one of the best times in human history. Great music, kids playing sports – not doing drugs -, a world of innocence, a comb in your back pocket and a good drive-in restaurant.
What more could a young man ask?