Figure 8.--Although unusual for the 1910s, noted American author Thomas Wolfe's mother insisted on long ringlet curls. Mercifully an Uncle took him at 9 years of age to the barber for a hair cut.

Ringlet Curls: Boys' Attitudes

One can imagine what boys must have thought about wearing ringlet curls. If all boys were coifured with ringlets it would have been one thing. While it was not rare, boys in long ringlets were a distinct minority. This was in part because many mothers of modest means with the responsibility of a large family could not spare the time for putting their sons hair in paper curlers every night. Thus a boy in curls, especially an older boy had the appearance of a pampered little rich boy. Just the site to inspire rude comments from other boys, especially boys from less affluent circumstances. Little boys of course did probably not concerned about it, although boys being boys it is likely that they objected to the nightly drugery of having their hair curled. Some younger boys probably liked the attention and glowing cpmpliments from mother's friends. Older boys did have some definite ideas. This was especially true once they reached the age in which making friends their own age became increasingly important to them. Many men in their memoirs looking back remember their long curls with almost universal disgust. While many men comment on wearing curls as boys, there does not seem to have been any specific complaint about the details of the style chosen by their mother. It was just the long curls, looking just like those of their sisters that they objected to. The actual stylistic details seem to have been of little concern to the boy involved. There are some biographical accounts. Most the come from the older boys who wore ringlets and thus remembered the experience better. Two such boys were Penn browing and Thomas Wolfe.


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Created: 3:44 AM 9/27/2004
Last edited: 3:44 AM 9/27/2004