Wednesday, March 7, 2012

When did they quit making Toni home perms?

My mom marked life events with a Toni home permanent.  Or, she might just catch me unaware. 

“Come out in the kitchen, I’m going to give you a Toni.” 

But usually she had a motive.

“School starts next week, you need a Toni.”

“You need a Toni before the dance.”

I just went round the corner and asked Jan how many perms Mom gave her.  None.  Not one.  The subject never came up.  In fact, once she ran out of her girlfriend’s home, the mother wanting to put her in the daughter assembly line and administer a haircut and a perm.  Jan was afraid of what mom might say when she got home.

I can’t imagine how mom lost her zeal.  She was still calling me into the kitchen when Jan was little.  She even sent me off to college with a Toni.  Or, as one friend said to me, when I had achieved sixties perfection of straight hair halfway down my back, “When I met you in freshman English, I thought you had naturally curly hair!”

Joanne and Walt.  I'm the one with the Toni.  Probably my kindergarden perm, say 1948.


  1. Aw...your Mom did a great job.

  2. Cute..but what on earth did all those perms do to the health of your hair?!
    Jane x

  3. I'm the one with the naturally curly hair. Maybe she figured that out the time she took me to the hair dressers (remember those two old ladies?) and had my hair cut off to pixie length and totally traumatized me when they spun that chair back around to the mirror. Oh horrors, I did not know who was looking back at me. That was probably about the time she found out I did not like surprises!

  4. Adorable photograph. I suppose they were different times, and you did look awfully cute..

  5. Somewhere in my old photos is a school picture from 1953. The day before, my mom decided to give me a perm. The trouble was that she wasn't very fast so the curls on the side she started on got much tighter than the last ones. It was awful!
    I hated permanents and haven't had one since the 60's.

  6. I well remember Toni home perms. I had several. They smelled awful as all perms do. I never want another one either. The picture of you is adorable.

  7. My mother curled her hair with Toni's as far back as I can remember. And she got me a few times too. She actually did a much better job than the professional ones I've had since. They never believed that my hair took the curl fast, since it was heavy and thick. I looked like a Curly Kate (remember those pot scrubbers?).

    That is a sweet picture. We have several pictures of cousins where they were posed like that, one behind the other, like a little train :) My sibling and I never had ours taken, for some reason.

  8. I only ever had one permanent in my life. I was a kid and it was a total disaster, frizzed right up. Never ever been tempted since.

  9. I do have naturally curly hair. More so since having chemotherapy. It has never stopped hairdressers suggesting a perm though.

  10. What adorable little children you were!!

    I have thick, course hair. The Toni I received in 7th grade burned off a good part of it in the back, leaving is a crispy, stinky mess.

    We laugh, we cried, we never did a Toni again. :-)


  11. My mom always gave me Toni perms, too! Oh, the memories! Oh the smells! I had soft, angel fluff hair. I don't remember any damage, but then I never looked in a mirror! Thank you for this. The memories are stirring!

  12. I think Toni perms were slightly before my time, but that said, I had wavy/curly hair and wouldn't have needed a childhood perm anyway! :) Love the old photo. What cuties.

  13. Oh, you looked so adorable! (And you haven't changed a bit!)
    My mom used to give me Tonis...sometimes she left it on too long and it burned the hair off in chunks, right at my scalp. (Crisp, like Pearl's!) So attractive.