Shelf Life Community Story Project
Amplifying community voices, learning from neighborhood stories, and interrupting narratives of erasure in Seattle's Central District.
Mark Cook-2.jpg

My Opportunity to See Beauty

Marie Kidhe

Photo by Jill Freidberg

Photo by Jill Freidberg

I grew up getting my hair done at DeCharlene's. She gave me my first curl. Me and my mom, yes, when I was ten. So I spent many, many Saturdays in that shop on Madison. It was hot! Because she didn't have no AC, and it was pressing irons and dryers and roller sets and my god it was hot. My brother hated it. He had to come. It was an all day process. My mom would pack two lunches for us, because it was my mom getting her hair done and then me getting my hair done. She had a TV up in the corner. She would watch soaps and game shows all day. We always went on a Saturday, of course, cause my mom worked during the week and I went to school, and it would literally be an all day function. We would get there at like 9 and be there for 5 or 6 hours. But I loved it, because I've always been into hair and fashion, and she would have these extraordinary dresses from all these different places, and they'd be boutique glamour dresses, and if I was good sometimes I'd get a dress that fit me, as I got older. And then she had this plethora of hats. So for me, it was just wow. I'd come to this place and it was just fancy. And you know she has always been a beautiful blonde, and so you'd come in to see what blonde look was she rocking this weekend, and she'd be selling tickets for some community event that was going on, so sometimes she'd need to stop so she could go to the front desk and sell a ticket, for maybe it was Ebony Fair, cause she used to help them when they would come into town. 

My mom and her would talk about everything. A lot of times...back then grown folks business really applied back then, like I would have to go sit on the other side with my brother, and there was the TV and the dryer, so I couldn't always ear hustle the way that I had hoped to. She had stations, it would be divided by a rack of clothes and dryers, so sometimes you couldn't hear everything they were talking about, which in hindsight I think was kind of a good thing. It kept us in our place as children and allowed us to be children, and not be in such a race to grow up so fast. But it would be everything...bills, who is with what man, church on Sunday, those types of things. I loved it. I felt like, as a young girl, it was my opportunity to see beauty.