In today's installment of "Found in Queens" I find my mother's old hair as I am clearing out my recently departed Grandmother’s apartment in Flushing, Queens. Yup, twelve years of her hair growth to be exact. I found it at the bottom of a cedar chest in her bedroom, carefully wrapped in tissue paper. I knew these long dark blonde braids were my mothers, because, like everything else in the apartment they were labeled and dated.Ernas's Braids-Cut 1946-Age 12 Years
My mother's response to me shrieking and running into the kitchen to show her?
"Get rid of them! I couldn't wait to get those cut off so I could look like everybody else!"
One of the stories my mother would tell about her childhood in the Bronx was about getting teased and getting her hair pulled. These braids are about two feet long. Now I understand why she was such an easy target!
I've never felt disembodied human hair before. It is an eery experience to touch them. The hair feels alive, it feels like what a twelve-year-old girls hair should feel like. It’s smooth, thick and shiny. It even has a little curls on the ends.
I asked my mother, "Is this normal?" She answered,"No! Just get rid of them!"
She had absolutely no interest and barely even looked at them.
I threw them in the vintage 1960's Pan Am flight bag which was found in some other cluttered corner of the apartment. The apartment is now looking more like a "pack mouses" apartment, it is slightly less cluttered. It took me four days to clear out one small closet, two dressers, two side tables and a chest. Four days!
And, by the way, she didn't want her old dolls or just about anything else to do with her childhood, so it all got toted home to Brooklyn in the Pan Am bag.
Note to self:Do not be a pack rat