We used Tide, a laundry detergent, as our hair shampoo in the late 1950s.

by James K. Sayre

In retrospect some of my family's consumer habits were a little on the unusual side. You should consider that both of my parents grew up in the Great Depression of the 1930s, when jobs were very scarce, money was very tight and millions of Americans struggled to survive. An undoubtedly very searing traumatic experience, especially for children and adolescents. Extreme thriftiness became a necessity for many. Then add a strong technical empirical nonconformist knowledge to this thriftiness and you had my parents attitudes about many things. One of their greatest criticism was to call others, especially our well-to-do relatives, "conventional."

My parents survived the Great Depression, graduated from college, got married and started raising their family (us kids). I supposed that it seemed like a frivolous waste of money to buy expensive special hair shampoo when the laundry detergent, Tide, would clean our hair even more thoroughly. Not a speck of grease left on our blond heads. (Fortunately, back then, there was just the basic unscented plain Tide, without any weird chemicals added). We did, however, have regular scented bathroom bar soap; I believe that it came in cardboard boxes of twelve bars from Gimbel's Department Store in downtown Pittsburgh.

After I was on my own and away in college, I must have bought something like Prell brand shampoo for washing my hair. Later, in my California hippie days, when I had long blond hair and learned about the vagaries of "split ends" from girls, I finally discovered the great scented Herbal Essence shampoo. That was truly great stuff. Of course, nowadays, the manufacturer has pulled the original dark green-colored Herbal Essence shampoo off the market and substituted even more exotic and more expensive formulations...



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Web page last updated on 16 October 2007.