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Mommy wasn’t happy about taking care of my hair, but I was only four years old.

The new baby was due soon and I knew Mommy was tense. My hair was really messy that morning, though I tried to comb it and make it nice for braiding.

Mommy needed to run errands and go to the grocer’s. That was a nice walk around the block, except for when we passed the mean barber that my brother went to. When business was slow, he stood in the doorway and I thought he was looking for “victims.”

As we got near the barber, Mommy stopped and looked in the window. There was a new sign, which even then I could read – Children’s Haircuts – $1.

I was scared, but Mommy walked us in. I sat where I usually did when brother got a haircut, not knowing why we had stopped at this store.

Then I heard the barber say a bit louder, “Yes, Ma’am, for you, I’ll do a nice girl’s cut.” I wondered why Mommy needed a haircut at the barbers’ since her hair looked nice and she always went to the salon at the end of the street.

Then Mommy said, “Mary, get up in the chair for the barber.” I saw him put the plank across the arms as he did for brother, since he was too short for his head to be above the chair back.

I did as I was told; hoping that I was only getting a trim or maybe several inches cut, though Mommy always did my trims at home.

The barber took out a big blue and white striped cape and put it over me, then pulled my braids out. He took the barrettes from the ends, undid the braids and combed my hair out around my shoulders. It looked beautiful, hanging so long I could sit on it.

He took a big black comb and a huge pair of scissors off the counter, looked at me, then at my reflection in the mirror and said, “Don’t worry. This won’t hurt. Mommy wants an easier time after the baby comes, so I’m giving you a nice, short haircut.”

“Please, Mommy, NO!” I pleaded, but it made no difference. The barber put the comb under my left ear and chopped off over two feet of soft brown curls with his nasty scissors. He moved around the back of the chair and continued to slice off long pieces until I was left with a choppy crop.

I was hoping that would be the end, so I could stop crying. But it wasn’t. He kept snipping at my hair with little pieces going everywhere.

Just when I really thought it was done, he looked over at Mommy, nodded his head, and ran the clippers around my ears and down the back of my head!

I was finally left with a tuffle on top to curl if Mommy wanted, and close clipped sides and back.

I got a clean-up several times to come – – all as short as the first.

A bit later I negotiated for longer locks, which didn’t last, but that story is

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