Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My Hairloom

DSC08059_edited-1 {My great-grandmother Estella is the young beauty sitting on the far right, next to her father…}

Stuck in a drawer in an unlikely place—my parents’ garage—a treasure was found this summer…

Not a treasure that would speak to everyone, but it spoke to me.

Finding a bag of vintage linens in a garage drawer, I excitedly brought it into the house to show my mother…she smiled, then went quietly out into the garage herself…

“You missed the best prize of all!”, she said joyfully when she returned to the house…a bag, just a plastic bag, of something unrecognizable in her hand…

DSC08054_edited-1 {the hair still shines beautifully, and looks like it might have just been uncoiled from the buns she wore before it was cut}

“It’s Estella’s hair”, she said…two long, curly ponytails…carefully cut and carefully kept for many, many years…

It’s a strange thing to see and touch something so personal, so tangible, from a great-grandmother long gone…and I couldn’t have been more thrilled when Mom gave it to me…almost immediately, I knew what I would do with those lovely locks.

Safely tucked up in my closet is a box that was filled with small family treasures—the same box that Matilda’s pipe was saved in…

…in there were two velvet ribbons—one a deep burgundy, one a bright fuschia—and both were wrapped up together with a hand-written note…



“Wore my hair parted in middle with bangs and two buns on each ear (like in my High School basketball picture).  These velvet ribbons, sometimes a black one—I wore across the front of head and pinned under each bun of hair.  Of course, my hair was thick and long and blond.


                                                       Estella V. Stapley”

Now, not only did have I have the notes and the ribbon, but the very basketball picture Estella mentioned in the note—the project was fixed in my mind…

Estella's basketball team, about 1912{A smiling Estella sits on the ground in front on the left—see her velvet ribbon in her hair?  About 1913} 

It’s been many months, and life’s been busy, but visions of my project were never far away…

DSC08065_edited-1 {this was tricky—as I didn’t want to use glue on any of it—just pins.  The burgundy ribbon on the bottom, the fuschia throughout, and copies of the note and pictures…}

As I placed things where I wanted them in the framed shadowbox this weekend, thoughts kept running through my mind about Estella…when—and why--did she cut her beautiful hair, I wondered…

Marrying her childhood sweetheart right after high school, motherhood was quick to follow…the long, beautiful hair might have been a nuisance when caring for her babes…

image {Estella, about 1930}

Or maybe, as she grew a little older, she thought, “A woman my age shouldn’t have hair this long”…

DSC08073_edited-1 {the finished project under glass…things never photograph well under glass, but it sure looks pretty all framed up…}

I have a feeling this may have been the reason, as I felt that very same thing just this summer…

My hair had grown…LONG.  Longer than I think it’s ever been.  I really loved it.  But, 50 was coming closer and closer…should a woman my age have (gray!) hair that long?, I wondered…







{not my best picture day, but I had to capture the moment just before it was cut…}

…and so I made a decision, and off I went to the salon.  Before my friend made the first cut, I let her know I wanted to save it—thoughts of Estella’s saved hair in my mind—so she put it in a long ponytail, and off it came.  Done.


I’ve regretted it just a bit since then, and it’s growing once more…I don’t think I’ll let it get that long again, though…I am a 50-year-old-woman after all…

I’ll save the hair, and maybe my granddaughters or great-granddaughters will find it in a drawer someday and be happy to have something that was once such a physical, tangible part of me…


…if they’re anything like me, I think they will.


LiveJournal Tags: ,


  1. Julie, I must admit to you my mother kept locks of her hair growing up. Sweet tresses of blond can be found throughout her scrapbook with delicate velvet bows. I have a pocket of all my kiddos from their first cuts and some from mine as well. This is a wonderful tradition that has fallen away. I am surprised at the amount of hair she kept for you. Your hair looks lovely. Smiles...Renee

  2. Julie' I hope this gets to you--did I ever enjoy that wonderful post---as I read it I couldn't help but wonder if the ends were "singed" beautiful job as usual--thank you---123--xoxo

  3. Amazing ~ simply amazing. I think I stopped breathing for a second when I saw what you had. I can just imagine how thrilled you were.

    PS - The short 'do' is stunning - I'm also *ahem* 50ish with long-er hair.

  4. What a wonderful treasure! How great is it that you have the basketball picture to boot!

  5. I've only ever kept a lock of my son's hair from his first haircut. What a wonderful find and what a lovely way you've displayed everything. So precious. xx

  6. I just have to tell you how much I love your blog. You have such interesting stories about your family. I have quite a few pictures but
    not much in the way of stories. Although my family has been good about keeping the geneology there is not to many stories.
    How lucky you are to have that gorgeous hair and the story and picture to go with it.
    Can't wait to read your next story!
    I am 72 and today is our 55th anniversary which was also my mother and dads and now two of my childrens.
    Can't believe I'm that old, but I still love all the "vintage" things and stories. I look back at all the everyday things I grew up with in the 40's and 50's and can't believe people are now calling them 'retro' or 'vintage'.
    Perhaps that is a lesson for you young ones today, take pictures of your homes, rooms, things that are common to you. Save little things. I used to have lots of old cracker jack surprizes-thought they would always be around. Bakealite jewelry was common, nothing special! I could go on and on, I never kept that stuff--how wrong I was. Things change every day. In the blink of an eye what is common and everyday to you now will be 'vintage'
    Vintage Grandma playing with paper

    1. Thank-you for your lovely, thoughtful comment...and for all the good advice! You're absolutely right. I'm so lucky that my people were keepers of things--and writers of their lives. Do you have a blog we could visit? Thanks again!


  7. Bonjour Julie
    Peut-être qu'un jour une de vos filles feront un beau souvenir avec vos beaux cheveux,
    C'est une belle histoire des cheveux d'Estelle et un beau souvenir mis dans un beau cadre
    bonne journée

  8. Yet again Julie...spellbinding,
    What a fantastic treasure to find and display safely for future generations.

    I've have both my children's first hair cut tresses safely kept in a box. My most treasured item though, is a lock of my father's hair. He died when I was 16 years old and I wouldn't have thought about doing anything like that, but my sister cut his hair when he was sick, so when he had his last hair cut...she kept it. It looks so strong, curly and black with just a touch of grey. It reminds me so much of his time with us and is so special. I'm so glad that my sister thought to keep it.

    Hey...on a lighter note 50 is now the new 30! I have a trick that I do with my age...I just transpose the I'm 35 yay!
    Your hair looks great by the way :D

  9. Wow that is really something! There is so much of it and it was so golden! And REAL! Something we don't see much of anymore. Thank you for sharing the amazing pictures.

  10. Hi Julie,
    What a wonderful story...and how beautiful you look in your new "do"! I love the shorter time (or for any of your daughters who likewise have such a "fit" of fancy..."locks of love" take the long hair remnants and make wigs for women who have cancer and have need of real hair...just an idea for a legacy of another variety!

    Blessings to you dear friend!

  11. That would be a great treasure to find for sure. I don't think many people would be able to have something that personal as you said. To actually TOUCH her very hair. That would be lovely.
    The shadow box looks really good ...But of course it does, as all your projects are spectacular.

    I liked your hair long, and I think it is darling shorter.
    I've always wondered, should AGE play a part in how long we want our hair to be??

  12. What a beautiful post Julie. And what a precious treasure to have from your great grandmother. Your shadowbox is such a lovely tribute to her.

    Your new shorter hair cut is very cute. But, I agree with Wendy. I think we should be able to wear our hair any length, at any age.

  13. What a beautiful tribute you have created there and how wonderful. My mother has a lock of her mother's hair that she keeps in her jewelry box and a lock of my hair from my first hair cut at age 4. If you go to the Lucy Maud Montgomery Museum on PEI there is a cabinet that has jewelry which was made from human hair back in the 1800's. Quite beautiful. I cut my hair this last year for much the same reason as you. I didn't think it was really befitting a 56 year old woman to have such long hair and to be honest I was tired of dying it, wanting my hair to be natural as befits my age. I have always thought that dyed hair on an older woman looks exactly like what it is . . . dyed and un-natural. Love and hugs to you my sweet friend. You are a beauty to me in every way, long hair or short hair. You are a dear sweet friend. xxoo

  14. Beautiful post and LO, Julie. Your haircut is so looks so good either way!

  15. Wow....that is so hard to believe that you really do have a piece of your great Grandma! What a surprise you must of had!
    You are adorable..with long or short hair!
    Hugs and love to you. xoxoxoxo

  16. What a treasure that you have and now to have it documented and a in a shadow box. Priceless. I too at 45 are struggling with the length of my hair and almost decided to cut it again a little shorter. Decisions!

  17. Very interesting post I never expected you to come up with hair like this! Such a treasurer. Now there is a much better thing to do with hair for women who can grow it easily and that is to donate it to Locks of Love. This is a trend in Alaska many women donate their hair for wigs to women who have had cancer. I have never looked up their website as I can't grown hair like that it breaks easily and I have a time keeping what I have, many of my friends have however and donated. You should check that out Julie in your life time you could donate and keep hair for your girls. I do not go along that a woman must cut her hair when she ages. I think that is all wrong, in fact I stay away from that old lady gray bubble women my age think they must wear!! Some time I must do a post on hair. Mine is natural by the way but it wasn't always. Nan

  18. First of all, your hair is so cute, love it! This is very special, like getting to hold her hand through time! I love what you did with it too, just wonderful! ;D

  19. Julie,
    The treasures that you have, and how they keep coming into your life! You are so blessed! I would give anyhting to have a lock of my grandma's beautiful pillow soft white hair.....and what a beautiful job you did with the shadow box.....Isn't it amazing after all of these years that hair is still beautiful and shiny????? Just like your great grandmother's spirit! I just love your posts Julie, they are always so loving and special! :) Sandy

  20. What an exciting find...and the way you are displaying it is beautiful! I so enjoyed this story!

    You look so cute in both pictures!!

  21. What a great find!!

    How brave of you to cut your hair! I have to say I love your hair both have such thick beautiful hair!! But if you like it better longer you should wear it however you want to - who cares about age :)

  22. What an amazing treasure!! and I think your hair is lovely either way!!
    I am a short hair kind of girl myself....but I do dream about growing it out:)

  23. You and Matilda
    are both beautiful!
    I LOVE your new
    'do, too! I'm growing
    mine out at the moment,
    but not sure how long
    I can hang in there {no
    pun intended!}. What
    a precious keepsake you
    have created....

    Happy Thursday,
    xx Suzanne

  24. Hi Julie!
    OMG what a wonderful treasure you've found! I love the story that goes along with such a special treasure.
    And you are so brave to cut your hair! A lucky grandchild or great grandchild will find your treasured locks one day. Girlfriend, you are a treasure yourself.
    You have beautiful hair, so you can wear it anyway you want.
    Warm hugs to you!

  25. What a treasure to find. I adore how you incorporated her hair into your art. Yes someday your great grandchildren just may be creating something with yours. How wondeful will that be!
    Hugs Lynn