I remember being handed a little, black plastic comb at just about every school picture day in elementary school. I started kindergarten in 1987. Each kid got their very own comb to use before their picture was taken. Sometimes there’d be a little mirror to look in just before it was your turn.
If you read one of my recent posts about lice in the school library, it was probably a wise idea we weren’t all sharing combs. Anyway, we could tuck that little black comb in our pockets and take it home at the end of picture day. Here’s a picture of the type of comb I’m talking about.
This comb happens to be my second son’s. He got it during his first bath in the hospital when he was born. He had a lot of hair! Of course I saved it, but it’s exactly the same type of comb I used to get on picture day.
The comb in my Dad’s pocket
My Dad has always carried this same type of little, black plastic comb in his pocket from as long back as I can remember. I thought of his black comb tonight when I pulled out a small, leather coin purse he has also always kept in his pocket.
The two items together are like buddies, and he never leaves home with out them.
While I don’t have his black comb, this round, worn out, leather coin purse is the nostalgic inspiration for the last of my hair stories. It’s why I think of saving money when I remember the comb in my Dad’s pocket.
I can gently squeeze the sides of it’s flower-like design to open and close it. It doesn’t fit a lot of coins, but enough for a day’s worth of cash transactions for sure. We definitely used cash a lot more back in the 1980s and 90s.
When I look at this coin purse I recall how my sisters and I would often buy my Dad the same exact coin purse for Father’s Day over the years. It would wear out in my Dad’s pocket as he carried it around with him each day. That’s probably how I got this one. I must have asked to keep his old coin purse after gifting him a new one. I think I went into a store like Wilson’s Leather at the East Town Mall in Madison, Wisconsin to buy one back when I lived with my parents still. I moved to Minnesota in 2000 to go to the University of Minnesota.
I love how it smells and feels in my hands. It reminds me of him.
My Dad was an accountant, CPA by profession and taught me to value saving money from the time I was a little kid. Starting small, having consistency, and living within or below our means are all things my mom and him modeled.
I remember when Dad opened up a savings account for me like my older sisters had. I remember the University of Wisconsin mascot Bucky Badger being on the red plastic cover of the checkbook-like savings account booklet I got. Dad wrote my birth name “Andrea” on the bottom corner of mine with a black marker. It seemed so official. I loved that! We could track together any money I put in the bank.
If the bank was closed, he’d take me into the ATM, we always called the “Time Machine.” The building was labeled TYME outside. I never put it together until years later. My husband still teases me if I call it that by habit. Like, “where you headed?” As if I was pretending to be in Back to the Future or something. It was like magic when crisp twenty dollar bills came out of the dispenser! Didn’t quite understand that reality until years later either.
Like me, my Dad has a little bit of wave to his hair. I must get that from him. He would pull his black comb out of his pocket in the middle of a conversation, still does. He’d run the comb though his hair and put it back in his pocket next to his coin purse. More typical times might have been before heading into church, any time after riding in the car with the window down, or of course if either of my sisters or I asked him, “hey Dad, when’s the last time you got a haircut?” Poor guy. Anyway, he’s always been prepared like the Eagle Scout he is, with his comb.
The contents of one’s pockets can be quite personal. For my Dad though, he keeps it quite simple. I love that about him. Like me, once he finds something that works for him he keeps going with it. I think I might also get this trait from him. Remember how I wrote in my last post how I’ve had the same yellow hair pick since I was probably twelve? Either way, he starts his day putting these two things in his pocket, and ends his day taking them out. That’s consistency.
Here’s a picture of me pretending to be my Dad. I thought it was funny since I’m holding a play calculator. Must have been teaching me about numbers and money already! Looks like I could have used a comb or a haircut too.
Since the comb in my Dad’s pocket also reminds me of school picture days…
I’ll end my hair stories series with a slide show of my 1980s-1990s hairstyles:
My 13 School Picture Day Hairdos 1987-1999
As much as I talk about my curly hair, I wore it rather straight for quite a while, experimenting with bangs a bit. And of course the dreaded mullet in second grade I told a story about last post! Then the sort of frizzy years of middle school and large hair scrunchies! I think I had a thing for mock turtle necks too! Anyway, for my senior pictures I tried layers for my curls in the shortest haircut I’d ever had. It’s the most like how I still wear my hair today.
It’s weird looking at pictures of myself taken a year apart and seeing the changes. As much as retakes were offered in school, I don’t think I ever did one. A part of me misses the days we just had to wait for film to develop. We just never knew how our pictures turned out until we got them back.
The comb in my Dad’s pocket is sort of his trademark, I love that. Anyway, it sure comes in handy nowadays when it’s time for a selfie! Here’s us in his new soundproof music room he saved up for.
What do you remember about picture day growing up?
I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below.