The Real Housewives of the Cold War
By Sally Edelstein
with Tuesday’s, pick-ups and deliveries reversed, or when a tired mother deposited the last child and stayed for a quick cup of instant coffee. It was over the roar of the dryers in the afternoons, while casseroles simmered in automatic ovens back home, that these women gave full voice to secret whispering fears. Somehow dread words could be spoken and reassurances offered.
ike most women growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, I was fed a generous serving of sugar-coated media stereotypes of happy homemakers who were as frozen and neatly packaged as the processed foods they served their cold war families. The Feminine Mistake 1960 In the years before I went to kindergarten, I shadowed my mother Betty everywhere she went. Within her suburban sphere of influence, I was a contented little satellite, spinning in her orbit. Whether shopping or schlepping, picking up or dropping off, I would follow in her footsteps…literally. The task I enjoyed tagging along with the most was her weekly appointment at the Glam-A-Rama Beauty Parlor. 18
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The beauty parlor was a unique universe unlike any place else, where unfamiliar, strange-looking equipment was being used by familiar neighborhood women looking strange. All dressed alike, their ordinary clothes replaced by identical leopard print smocks, it was a universe with its own uniform. A universe where gossip was as hot and swift as the air blowing through the missile shaped hairdryers, a world where I was privy to carefully guarded grown up secrets. Strange intimacies grew between women who organized carpools and now found themselves sitting, captive under pink hair dryers. These conversations were unlike the hurried confidences exchanged as Friday’s schedule was switched
Ladies Home Journal 5/52 - Illustration Al Parker
In the shadow of the hairdryers, as nails were polished, calluses scraped and hair teased, dread words could be safely spoken.
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