Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hair Piece

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years."
-Mark Twain

The following poem is based on my cousin's father, and his very traditional reaction to the influence on simple Irish life of a Hollywood film star whose name he was only vaguely familiar with.

Haircuts in an Irish home, 1950s

He didn't agree with it
how modern youths
yearned for long hair
wished for blue jeans
idolised a dead film star
from a distant country,
styled themselves on their hero.
He didn't really know
who James Dean was
just a name on the wind
an ill wind, a low rumble
a sure sign of trouble:
he didn't like the way
boys tried to emulate the fellow
swaggering in leather jackets
defiant, restless rascals
topped by unruly hair.
So out came the clippers
snip snip snippety snip
always he met with protests,
every few weeks trimming hairs
short around the collar.
Better to be clean cut
neat, decent as he had been
in a childhood without cinema.
As he pruned, as his sons scowled
below a determined hand
he'd mutter under his breath
that he just wouldn't have it
no, he'd see to it himself
"there'll be no Jesse Jeans in this house."



Barb said...

Your quote by Mark Twain is one of my most favourite quotes ever. In fact I quoted it to someone just this past Monday.

Poem is delightful

mermaid said...

I love the investigation of the parent child relationship and the one between generations here.

polona said...

loved the mark twain quote :)

and there's another one that springs to mind:
the past is a foreign country: they do things differently there (L.P.Hartley)

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Barb, that's a coincidence. I thought too it was a good quote but I expect no less from Mark Twain :)

Mermaid, thanks much for your comment. Yes, we have the father who's just trying to keep bad influence out of his sons' lives, and the kids who just want to be like someone else, and can imagine how they must have felt having to have hair cuts when their friends probably didn't.

Polona, I really, really like that quote too. I might have used it had I thought of it today... maybe another time :) thanks.

Pauline said...

oh how we chafe under the "determined hand" of our parents, only to turn around in adulthood and do the same to our children, all the time muttering, "This is an altogether different situation..."

Great post!

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Pauline, exactly! We forget all too quickly how it was for us. That, and the fact that we learn it was mostly for our own good anyhow.

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