Kenneth Avery is a Southern humorist with well over a thousand fans. The charm and wit in his writing span a nearly a decade.
Writer's note: the products, still used or not used in America today are simply for editorial purposes. In no way whatsoever am I promoting or encouraing you to head out and buy them. This hub is really from an event in my pre-teen life. And I want to dedicate this hub to my lovely Pam, who doesn't know that I'm including her in this saga. (Thanks, Kenneth.)
Milestones that measure a male youth to a man: shooting his first shotgun in the forest to hit a target, driving his first car, his first date, his first kiss, drinking his first whiskey and getting to use hair oil for the very first time. These, my youthful males, are just some of the ways that we have set forth to see just how young adults become men. No, I didn't say he-men, weight lifters who can press 3400 pounds with one hand and certainly not a man who yells at his girlfriend or wife or abuses her physically and mentally. I can say the same about his children.
Sure the last two items were harsh, but very true. Abusing a woman, child, elderly person or even a defenseless animal is not, far from, and won't cause the young male adult to grow into a man. I am very passionate about these causes.
But I started to talk about my dad, rest his soul, and his famous hair tonic. He called it tonic, but I read on the label that it stated "oil." Fine. I am not about to argue with my dad, an Army vet, a self-taught musician, brick-layer, carpenter, cook, and my mom. Yes, I am here to witness that my dad did all of these things when he was young and I was witness to see his growth, (sometimes painful), into a man and how he handled it.
Dad lived by and performed his daily rituals that I believe, he thought would somehow give him a good day ahead. Did I think that? I don't know. But be it far from me to question my dad's authority. But there he stood each morning at 6 a.m. on the dot. Not a minute earlier. Not a minute later. I credit my dad for a lot of things and his punctuality was without flaw
My dad worked as a share cropper. This was before the Fed's at the Dept. of Agriculture decided that the small farms should not be paid to grow a certain amount of aces and dad's farming ended when he went to work for the public in a little place called, Winfield, Ala., where he worked as a production machinist for Continental Conveyor and Equipment Co. You might be thinking did he do a good job. No. He did some great work. Even this coworkers said this about this self-taught machinist among his many talents.
We lived in Hamilton, Ala., the county seat of Marion County, a short distance from dad's work site, so he disciplined himself to be out of bed at 4:30 a.m., to eat breakfast, shave, and then his best ritual: to apply his hair tonic, which he swore was hair oil. Either way, he looked really fine each minoring as he left for work.
I wish that I could tell you the brand of dad's hair tonic, but I won't. I think that if you use your sense of natural deduction, you will guess which brand (of the three on this hub) which dad used seven days a week. And besides the oil helping dad to look good, the tonic smelled great. This was some of the bait that caught me on deciding which tonic or oil for myself when that day came.
It was so rhythmic to sit and watch my dad apply his hair oil. And the finishing touch: taking his black barber's comb that he carried everywhere we went, and slowly coming his thick black hair and molding the nice-looking waves that set him apart from many people. Not that he was a vain person. It's because when he was a boy coming-up, he was taught how to take baths, then later, shave and comb down his hair, but in the last years of his life, I was blessed for him to watch a real genius at work.
When he finished, he checked himself in the wall-type medicine chest and began to walk toward my mom and myself to say bye and other nice things before he left for work. I was 12 at this time. But the things that dad did especially fixing his hair each morning at a certain time bore strong on my memories as I grew up.
Okay, I lied. But not intentionally. Dad actually had two hair tonic's. The photo on top and the one in the middle. I knew why he loved the hair oil in the photo in the middle. You see, when he went to the Army, he fell in with some good guys in his company and one just happened to be a guy from New York City and my dad would tell me about how he and this guy would spend time in the PX where they were stationed and eat popcorn, drink a beer or two, and just relax.
But dad's buddy, who also had black hair with waves, told dad that he used the hair tonic in the second photo. So I solved that mystery, but still, my dad looked great from the time he arose each morning and the time he arrived home. In Both times when was share cropping and doing machine work at his job in Winfield, Ala.
The comical part of this piece is my time when I was 12, still, and had gained the nerve to ask my dad for a hair creme just for me. Why the creme? Thanks to my friend, the TV which had a popular ad featuring the jingle . . ."a little dab'll do ya," so if you are my age today, you probably used this popular hair creme.
I'll never forget the moment that I stepped-up after dad had left for work to use my hair creme all by myself. Even my parents who on other times, might want to stay behind to share that special moment with me, but not this time .There I was. Hands shaking. Sweat was forming on my scalp. Nervous, yes.
I slowly uncapped the tube of hair creme and slowly "dabbed" a bit onto my left index finger and rubbed it through my hair which was thick then. I hate looking back. And quite frankly, my hair lay down and I looked decent. But being in junior high school, and if you are guy who has discovered girls, you'd want your hair to look more than decent. Cool.
But I went by the old saying, that if one thing helps you then what about four things had to be the best results. This was not on this hair creme's ad. Someone on the TV news used this line when they were reporting something about a new train being invented in Japan.
So I took the tube again, slowly, and squeezed-out about five dabs and it almost covered my left palm. Then I was excited. Pretty girls look out, I kept thinking. But . . .when I wiped those five dabs of hair creme, it didn't swipe, but only lay down like asphalt on some farm market road in Mississippi. I hit the panic button. It was nearing time for my school bus, and my hair wasn't cooperating. I almost cried. Time was running out.
Eureka! I had one option. Use my dad's shoe brush that he used to get the dirt from his shoes when he wanted to polish them. Sure enough. It failed. More of the hair creme went into the shoe brush more than my hair. But I looked into dad's medicine chest mirror to get one more hope for an idea to save me and my reputation.
Wash my hair! What an idea. I quiickly poured anmple amounts of a brand-name hair shampoo and brushed the hair creme out and then I combed my hair quickly, but did not have time to style it before getting on the school bus.
I didn't realize just how the air outside would affect my wet, near hair creme'd hair, but I soon found out. I was sitting in my seat minding my own business when a girl from behind yelled, hey, Kenny! New hair style, and laughed like a hyena on speed. Then more looked, touched my hair that was now stiff and standing-up like someone had scared me to death.
The only good thing about this was I was so glad that my dad wasn't there to see the first "Prototype Spike."
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© 2021 Kenneth Avery
Barb Johnson from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula on September 17, 2021:
Too funny Kenneth! I remember this. My neighbor’s Dad used it. My Dad’s regular was a product called ‘Wild Root’. Our Dads were loyal to their hair tonics. Lol.