Beauty Secrets of a Country Woman
Mother’s Sunday Make-over

by J.J.

Mother became a different person on Sunday mornings. You see, during the week, there was little or no use for her to take time out of working in the field or in the garden to enhance her natural beauty. After all, a pretty hair-do or manicured nails wouldn’t last longer than ten minutes picking blackberries, pulling corn or preparing canner after canner of green beans.

But before Sunday School and while Dad did the outside chores, Mother changed into an I-care-about-my-appearance woman. Of course only after the chicken was fried, a pot of green beans simmered, the aroma of yeast loaves filled the kitchen and a dessert stood ready for our after lunch, did she begin primping. Mother’s beauty touch-up began with her hair. Soaked numerous times with perspiration as she helped with the farm chores, her hair received the most ardent attention.

After shampooing, curls were a must. The old kerosene lamp became the forerunner to the modern electric curling iron. After lighting the lamp, Mother rested the handles of the curling apparatus on the upper rim of the lamp shade letting the metal prongs dangle inside the glass chimney.

After several minutes, she patiently gripped ends of black hair between the heated prongs, rolled a limp strand toward her scalp and waited for the miracle. After each curl wisp stayed to her satisfaction, she replaced the curling iron over the flame and waited for the metal to reheat before winding another portion of hair.
Hand and nail care came next. She attacked fruit-stains with ample applications of Clorox before running a nail file across the edge made ragged by manual labor. Hair curled, hands clean and nails filed, Mother felt pretty, and was without embarrassment. She sang soprano in the choir beside non-farm women whose hands and hair took much less care.

Author, Peggy Rambach, runs creative writing workshops in community education settings for the Healing Arts in health care, correctional facilities, ESL programs and immigrant support centers as well as offering assistance with lesson plans in professional development presentations for middle and high school teachers. She teaches memoir writing in medical schools as part of the curriculum in Narrative Medicine and Medical Humanities. Ms. Rambach is conveniently located for teachers, students and participants from throughout New England including the Vermont (VT) cities of Bennington, Burlington and Montpelier, the Maine (ME) cities of Portland, Gardener, Kennebunkport and York, the New Hampshire (NH) cities of Portsmouth, Concord, Manchester, Dover, Nashua and Rochester, the Massachusetts (MA) cities of Boston, Newburyport, Amherst, North Hampton, Salem, Beverly, Lawrence, Lowell, Haverhill, Gloucester, Plymouth, New Bedford, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Marblehead, Rockport, Hyannis, and Falmouth, the Rhode Island (RI) cities of Providence and Newport and the Connecticut (CT) cities of New Haven and Hartford.