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Blame it on the Beatles

May 15, 2019 May 2019 No Comments

Jane with client (mid 1960s).

19 year old Jane Gregory was bored with teaching hairdressing to school leavers in Palmerston North so when the chance came up to manage a new salon being set up in Martinborough she jumped at the chance. She wasn’t even sure where Martinborough was but figured a small town would be a great place to save some money for the trip she and a girlfriend planned to Australia to see the Beatles. 

The “Red Rose” was the first real salon in Martinborough.   “It was down the (long gone) arcade behind the butcher’s and we froze in winter and cooked in summer.”  Unlike modern, open plan salons the Red Rose had a curtained cubicle for each customer.  This meant, at least in theory, nobody knew your hair was coloured or that your curls weren’t natural.   At the end of one busy day Jane discovered a customer asleep behind the curtains.   “ She’d been forgotten but I couldn’t bring myself to tell her and just combed her out as if nothing had happened. She must have wondered where all those hours went.”

It was a very busy salon with just Jane and a junior to help out. “ Five days a week and one late night.  No Saturday and no men.  The evening session was when the single working girls would come in, the curtains would go back and the local gossip would start.   Every Saturday night there’d be a ball either in the Town Hall or in one the country halls.  Everyone would want their hair done for that. You had to do lots of different styles and they all had to survive from Friday or often earlier.  Thank goodness for hairspray.”  

Perms were still very popular especially with the older women.   Hair was tortured into tight curls that slowly disintegrated into a fluffy mess. This was why the previous hairdressers was nicknamed Frier’s Frizz 

Jane did see the Beatles in Sydney but The Fab Four now had some serious competition. During her time in Martinborough she’d already met the man who would become her husband, Bernie Jackson.   After six months she was back here again and worked from both the Red Rose and later from home. 

When she finally retired she was still chased by her desperate regulars wanting their hair done.   “I often had to hide to avoid seeing them.  Luckily other hairdressers had arrived in town and I was soon forgotten and of course most of my lovely ladies have now passed away.”  Jane’s appointment book shows many well known Martinborough names.    “Of course we always called the married ladies, ‘Mrs’. You’d never dream of using their christian names.”

Jane has promised to come out of retirement to do one final job –styling the wigs on the mannequins in the museum to make them more appropriate to the era.   That won’t include any perms!

Chris Cassels 

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