Clabe gives a “shingle bob” to his wife

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Sorting through old clippings and greeting cards of my mother’s, I opened a stationery box and found a mass of dark brown hair.

Yes, hair!

On the box was written, “My hair cut in 1924 cut by Clabe Wilson  Leora Wilson.”

Aha, I knew which picture probably went with it, and even the story behind it.

Wilsons took the Sunday paper which their mother would read to them, according to oldest son Delbert, who was about nine at the time. The kids especially enjoyed the “funny papers” (cartoons).

Leora did the reading because not long before, when Clabe went to feed a calf, a wire loop that held the gate shut flipped up and hit him in the eye. It bled and bothered enough that he went to the doctor in Dexter, who sent him to a specialist in Des Moines. He had surgery on the eye and rode the train back and forth to the doctor in Des Moines several times that winter. Clabe’s vision was somewhat blurred in that eye, and he began to wear glasses.

He enjoyed hearing his wife read. So did the whole family.

The “shingle bob” was introduced about 1923–very short in the back, exposing the hairline at the neck. Leora found a picture she liked in a newspaper of a woman with bobbed hair. It may have  even given directions about how to go about accomplishing it. Leora could trim her daughters’ hair that way, but not her own.

“Clabe, I want you to cut my hair this way. We’ll use this picture and I’ll guide you.”

Leora’s hair was dark brown and thick. She’d never had it cut except for when she was about five years old and had whooping cough and a fever. Her scalp was so tender. When her hair began to fall out, her mother gave her a “bob” haircut. Leora said she wore it that way about five years, then decided to grow it out again.

Delbert remembered that it took his dad a very long time to even make that first slice. Leora kept urging him, with all the kids watching. Each snip was probably nerve wracking for him. Delbert said it “must have been a three-hour haircut.”

Afterward Clabe said, “A person ought to be kicked for doing a trick like this.”

He loved Leora’s mass of dark brown hair. The Christmas before they were married, he’d given her a silver vanity set–mirror, brush, and comb. The mirror and comb where most likely were part of his historic hair bob.

Victorians saved hair and even framed elaborate 3-D wreaths and scenes from intricately woven human hair, many times labeled with who it had belonged to.

This “keeper” of family relics is especially drawn to any item with a story attached to it. But what does the keeper eventually do with a hank of her grandmother’s hair in a stationary box, even though its story is an especially delightful one?

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