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The Helton Family Dilemma by John Cooper

It was the Saturday of October 12TH, 1968, as Baxter Helton and his son Dave were in Pulaski's Barbershop in Covington, Kentucky. As the kind of a man whom often thought of himself as truly a "regular American" as the term would be quoted some years in the Norman Lear sitcom entitled, "All In The Family", well, Baxter was just getting his usual second Saturday of the month trim as always while Dave was getting a kind of a Glen Campbell slick down for class picture week coming up at Holmes High School where Dave and his older sisters Vickie Sue, Karen, and Teresa attended. That year though, things would be somewhat different, to say the least. That night after dinner, the family was settled into the living room as they usually did on Saturday nights. Cornelia Helton said, "Baxter, I feel that since Vickie Sue and Karen are old enough to drive their cars now, they're also old enough for another haircut apiece". Baxter gulped, "Cornelia, you gave each of them their first one at age 10. Already it's taken Teresa these past four years to regrow hers. Why should both Vickie Sue and Karen each get another one so soon?" He was quite right. The first haircut Vickie Sue had as a child was personally supervised, and cut off by Cornelia seeing as how she had copied the one Ginger Rogers gave herself in front of the camera in the film "The Story Of Vernon and Irene Castle" when she had cut Vickie Sue's hair seven years earlier. The following year, she had cut Karen's just like that of Doris Day in the film "Calamity Jane". Two years following, Cornelia cut Teresa's hair like that of Natalie Wood in the self-cut scene in the film "Splendor In The Grass". This year though, Cornelia had planned to cut Vickie Sue's hair like that of Goldie Hawn from "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In", and also too cut Karen's like that of Yvette Mimieux in the film "Joy In The Morning". Even as they turned in for bed, Baxter bellowed, "I can understand when a mother gives a ten year daughter a haircut, yet to cut it off again when the same daughter turns 16 or even 17, well, that isn't proper parenting. That's discrimination against a teenage girls vanity!" Cornelia shrugged, "Like it or not, as of 3:00 P.M tomorrow, I'll first cut Vickie Sue's hair, and then at 3:30 P.M. I'll cut Karen's hair, and if you don't like it then go out, and get drunk for a while, and then drop dead".

3:00 P.M., Sunday October 13TH, 1968, Vickie Sue sat up straight facing the mirror on the dresserdrawer of her bedroom as she sat with one giant-sized bedsheet around her neck and shoulders. Vickie Sue had no choice, or say in the matter, despite her father's having favored her with long hair. The first 13 handfuls of Vickie Sue's hair were cut just short enough to add bangs. The next 20 handfuls were nearly cutoff too close to the scalp, almost. At 3:30 P.M., Cornelia began cutting off Karen's hair as planned. When Baxter came home all drunk as he could be, he roared, "Cornelia! I told you not to do it, yet you broke your word". Cornelia only scoffed, "Baxter, it's no wonder there's rebellion among the youth of America today. Nobody wants to obey their elders anymore". Baxter came to Vickie Sue's bedroom, and found her crying as she gathered up the chopped off tresses. He asked, "What's wrong, baby?" Vickie Sue weeped, "Oh Dad! I know I'M looking just horrible. It took me a long time to grow this, and now look at it". Baxter replied, "I know, honey. Look at the bright side. As of next year at this time, you'll be in a college dorm room, and some of it will have grown back by then. Besides, you still have your college graduation in like 5, 6, or 7, possibly 8 years even. By then I feel your hair will not only be longer again, but also you may be married, and I hope that the man you choose, whomever he may be, likes you with long hair instead of short under the circumstances. Anyway, I got to go comfort Karen, too. Later tomorrow, at work, I'll try to find you a nice hatbox to keep your hair in to remember this tragedy by. Ofcourse, you had had lot more coming off now than you did seven years ago, only then I brought you an old shoebox from work. I'll also see about maybe bringing a shoebox for Karen's hair, too". So after giving the same kind of a speech to Karen, Baxter got Cornelia alone, and gave her a lecture on the old Bible verse of 1 COR. 11:15, which confronts women's vanity. Thursday October 17TH, 1968, since the 7TH & 8TH graders had their class pictures taken on Monday with the Freshmen class pictures taken as of Tuesday, and the Sophomore class pictures on Wednesday, which would leave Friday for the Senior class pictures. Even Karen's good friend Catherine Aker, a delightfully charming redhead had faced the same humiliating experience that same weekend. Only Catherine's mother gave her the kind of bobbed type haircut Julie Andrews had in the film "Thoroughly Modern Millie". At least, Catherine's sister Patricia Ann, older by a year still had her long golden tresses intact. Whereas, 1/3 of the female students at Holmes High School with new haircuts for class picture week had it done at home by their own mothers, the other 2/3 of them, at least those actually got theirs kind of cut short to certain modern styles at the time, went to Maxine's Beauty Salon. Most of the the girls who managed to avoid the scissors were considered to be the lucky ones. Another good friend of Karen's named Maureen Marie Jenkins aka Mary was one of those lucky ones to avoid the scissors. Maureen couldn't to notice Karen weeping for the loss of her long tresses, and asked, "Karen, what's wrong?" Karen said, "Mom cut off all of my hair practically on Sunday. I may be smiling on the outside, but I'm certainly crying on the inside". Karen was absolutely right about how she felt. Two more of her friends, namely Dorraine Wagner aka Dori along with Karyn Schmidt were also smiling on the outside, and crying on the inside, even though they knew that their salon haircuts would only be temporary, to say the least, despite having the pixie style. Dorraine was Maxine's daughter. Actually, one of six daughters. Yet, the rest of the school year for the Heltons, and most other citizens in Kenton County turned out quite fair.

So the as the rest of the year flew by, as it looked, that's when the Helton family dilemma got complicated even further as Mrs. Hook, together with Mrs. Aker, Mrs. Hornbeck, Mrs. Peace, Mrs. Woolridge, Mrs. Cathers, and Mrs. Woodward had all got it into their heads that with summer getting close as well as their daughters: Patricia Ann Aker, Kathleen Anne Hook, Lou Ann Hornbeck, Paula Joyce Peace, Dianne Marie Woolridge, Sonya Gail Cathers, and yes, even Laura Jean Woodward, all were needing haircuts, according to their mothers. Naturally, that would only stir up rebellion among the daughters, to say the least. So part of the ultimatums delivered said that the girls had from graduation day to the 4TH of July to either get a salon cut, or face their mothers' and wind up with Mia Farrow's infamous 1"Inch, or less type cut. So, as luck would have it, the girls were desperate. They needed a plan or a solution to get out of the dilemma they were now into. One of the fellow graduating students, namely Vickey Lynn Houston, a shoulderlength brunette, had the solution in mind. What she said was this, "Let's draw straws, and whoever gets a straw of equal length will go to the salon, and those without will then spin the bottle because to determine who will give them a haircut in the privacy of a bedroom at home". Sonya drew the first straw, and chose to have a salon type cut like her good friend, and fellow blond Linda Irene Thompson as seen second from the right in the second row across on page 119 of the 1969 Lest We Forget yearbook. Paula Joyce Peace was next, and she decided on the chinlength bob worn by Peggy Ann Connley as seen on the far left of the second row across on page 104 of the Lest We Forget yearbook.. Then, Laura Jean Woodward drew the third straw, and chose a chinlength bob like her friend named Christine Sue Schulte as seen on the far right of the second row across in the upper column on page 117 of the 1969 Lest We Forget yearbook. Kathleen Anne Hook drew the forth straw, and chose to get the pixie cut of her friend Karen Wagner (who's widowed mother owned the salon) as seen in the center of the bottom row across on page 119 of the 1969 Lest We Forget yearbook. Ofcourse, that took care of the salon cuts, under the circumstances. Then Lou Ann Hornbeck, Patricia Ann Aker, and Dianne Marie Woolridge had drawn the three shortest straws, and they would be the ones spinning the bottle to determine who would give them haircuts in the privacy of a bedroom. Patricia Ann spun first, and the bottle stopped pointing to Lois Kay Poe. Well, Lois Kay's slightly short looking blond hair had been cut in a style that was a cross between the pixie cut and the old time style named the Marcel. Anyway, Patricia knew that for this upcoming haircut of hers to take place, she would have to go Lois Kay's house on Friday June 13TH, 1969, and get her haircut at 3:00 P.M. exactly. Dianne Marie was next to spin the bottle, and it eventually pointed to Vickie Sue Helton. Lou Ann was the only one left, and when she spun the bottle, once again the bottle pointed to Vickie Sue.

So one week after graduation day, the girls were ready. It was one difficulty they were ready for, departure from their long hair. Sonya Gail Cathers, Laura Jean Woodward, Paula Joyce Peace, and Kathleen Anne Hook all were lined up in a row at Maxine's Beauty Salon. At the Poe home, Lois Kay was ready to cut off Patricia Ann Aker's long flowing tresses. At the Helton residence, Vickie Sue was ready to first of all cut off Lou Ann's long blond hair, and then cut off the long golden brown hair of Dianne Marie. Now since the widowed Maxine Wagner was willing to hire the friends of her daughters as styling apprentices, this made it easier on Sonya, Laura, Paula, and Kathleen in the confidence department. Now at exactly 3:00 P.M., the cutting began. Patricia Ann Aker sat in front of Lois Kay's dresserdrawer with its large attached mirror, and awaited her haircut. She sat up straight in a plain wooden chair with one bedsheet around her neck and shoulders, and a second bedsheet on the floor to catch her hair as it fell when being cut off. Lois Kay wasted no time in cutting off Patricia Ann's long golden blond hair. Using the same all-metal 13"Inch scissors with green painted handles her own mother had used in giving her the rather short haircut a few months earlier when class picture week was nearing. Soon enough, about all of Patricia Ann Aker's long hair lay about the bedsheet on the floor of Lois Kay Poe's bedroom. It had taken nearly the entire hour just for Lois Kay to cut off Patricia Ann's long hair, but it was done, at least for now. So Mrs. Aker would be happy for Patricia Ann having short hair, as Mrs. Aker demanded, but Patricia Ann planned that it would only be temporary, because all through her college years the University of Minnesota at Duluth, Patricia An, and a lot of other girls with short hair in their freshman year of college would grow their hair so long throughout the following decade, well, it would be uncanny. At the Helton residence, Lou Ann sat up in a similar wooden chair with a bedsheet around her neck and shoulders, and a second on the floor for catching any hair that fell there upon being cut off. Dianne Marie was sitting at the foot of Vickie Sue's bed in Vickie Sue's bedroom where Lou Ann was first, and Dianne Marie was next in line for haircuts. Lou Ann took one last look at herself in the large mirror attached to Vickie Sue's dresserdrawer as she looked straight into the mirror. Lou Ann's long hair hung loose as she awaited her fate. One thick handful of her hair was in front of each shoulder, and the rest dangled loose over the back of the chair, except for Lou Ann's bangs in front of her forehead. Vickie Sue then began cutting. Despite using a similar pair of all-metal 13"Inch scissors with green painted handles, Vickie Sue's main problem was the thickness of Lou Ann's long hair. It took a hundred-eleven snips just to cut that first handful alone before Vickie Sue laid the cut off handful of hair into Lou Ann's lap. Vickie Sue felt like she was the nun who was suppose to be cutting off the hair of Clare, the one time sweetheart of St. Francis of Assisi. Ofcourse, Vickie Sue knew that the real Clare was a brunette as were most Italian girls, but she also knew that for the film "Francis Of Assisi", 20TH Century Fox made a majoring casting mistake when they cast the golden-orange haired beauty, namely one Dolores Hart, which resulted in her actually joining a convent in 1963, and taking her final vows about 1970. Anyway, Vickie Sue knew that if she didn't cut off Lou Ann's long hair, then Mrs. Hornbeck (Lou Ann's mother) would cut it all off just like Mia Farrow. With only five minutes left until she had to cut off Dianne Marie's long hair, Vickie Sue Helton had finished cutting off Lou Ann's hair and trimmed the bangs to match those of hers, meaning Vickie Sue's bangs. Lou Ann quickly gathered up her hair, now all cut off, and placed it into an old hatbox Mrs. Helton had laying up in the attic. Quickly, Vickie Sue sent those first two bedsheets down the laundry chute, and brought in two fresh ones from the linen closet. As the minute hand on Vickie Sue's Spiro T. Agnew alarm clock neared the six with the hour hand still on the three, Dianne Marie Woolridge knew it was now time for her haircut as Lou Ann headed home. Dianne Marie gulped, "I haven't felt this nervous since I was ten years old when mom gave me my first haircut. Now seven, almost eight, years of growth is to be cut off. Let's get it all over with". Since it three-hundred-thirty-three snips just to cut off Lou Ann's hair mainly due to thickness, Dianne Marie's haircut would be relatively simple. One handful of hair was in front of each of her shoulders, and the rest dangled loose over the back of the chair. So with those same all-metal 13"Inch scissors that Vickie Sue used for cutting Lou Ann's hair, she was now going to cut off Dianne Marie's long flowing tresses of yellowish-brown gold. First she got a hold of the handful in front of Dianne Marie's left shoulder, and cut it off, laying it in Dianne Marie's lap. Vickie Sue sighed, "That's just the first one. Keep watching". For the next 30 minutes, Vickie Sue kept on cutting away at Dianne Marie's long flowing hair like there was no tomorrow. Soon with one handful laying in her lap, thirty-one handfuls on the second bedsheet on the floor, and the one handful that was in front of her right shoulder still intact, Dianne Marie gulped, "It's the last one. No turning back now. Just cut it off". So Vickie Sue did cut off that last handful of Dianne Marie's long hair, and laid it in her lap, too. Now it was just a simple matter of trimming Dianne Marie's bangs by about 3/4'S of an inch, and it was all done. Dianne Marie replied, "It's not too bad, at least for a temporary haircut. I got all summer, and also all of my college years to let it all grow back. Do you ever plan to let yours grow again, Vickie?" Vickie Sue sighed, "Well, my dad wants me to, but my mom is still skeptical to say the least. Just send me a post card, or letter from Duluth once in a while, and if I ever start wearing my own hair long again, I'll let you know by mail". Soon enough, all seven girls were on the northbound train from Covington to Duluth, whether any of would return to Covington, even for so much as a visit, well, nobody knew for sure. Three of them each had a hatbox with loosely cut off hair, and the other four each had not one, not two, but three souvenir ponytails each also in hatboxes, too. You see in those days in the late 1960S, there were no charity organizations like, Locks of Love, or Wigs for Kids in business at the time, and if the stylists didn't throw out what they cut off, the wig companies were lucky just purchase what they could straight from the styling facilities themselves. Ofcourse, when the company that Mrs. Helton always sent out the sheets to for cleaning called up to say that four of the sheets had strands of long blond hair on them when they arrived at the cleaning place, well, they called the Heltons, and Mr. Helton answered, and when he heard about it, he bellowed, "Cornelia!" Mrs. Helton gulped, "Yes, Baxter?" Mr Helton growled, "Have you been cutting off Vickie Sue & Karen's hair again?" Mrs. Helton gasped, "I don't think I did. Why?" "The cleaning company that cleans our sheets say that traces of blond hair were found on four of the sheets they picked up laundry servicing!" Then Mrs. Helton spilled the beans, and said, "OK, I admit it! Allison and Ruth Esther wanted Lou Ann and Dianne Marie to have haircuts, yet I don't know how some of the strands wound up on our bedsheets! I swear I don't have a clue!" Mr. Helton then scratched his nose, and said, "Well, as far as I know maybe, just maybe, you loaned two of the sheets to the Woolridge family, and two sheets to the Hornbeck family. Then you put them in with the ones going to the special laundry cleaning place, and I guess that solves that mystery".

Upstairs, Vickie Sue had eavesdropped on them, and thought aloud to herself, "I hope dad never knows that I was the one who gave haircuts to Lou Ann and Dianne Marie". So Vickie Sue joined Lois Kay Poe, Peggy Ann Connley, Vickey Lynn Houston, Betty Ann Frazier, Deborah Ann Forrest, Gloria Kay Mote, Christine Sue Schulte, Linda Irene Thompson, Deborah Lynn Stephens, Karen Wagner, Nancy Juanita "June" Wagner, Concetta Jeanette "Connie Jean" Wilson, and some other friends as styling apprentices at Maxine's Beauty Salon in Covington. Eventually after just two years, younger sister Teresa Helton was out of high school, graduation wise that is, Mr. and Mrs. Helton filed for divorce, which started over Mrs. Helton cutting off the long blond hair of their two older daughters Vickie Sue and Karen. With Baxter and Cornelia now divorced, their only son Dave Helton joined the marines, and hasn't returned to Covington ever since then. So in spite of being divorced, the Helton family dilemma remains unresolved to this date.

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