Lost. And Found?
My mother claims she was a teen-aged Christmas tree.
I think she's lying.
Okay, not really. She's a pretty honorable woman. But I've been hearing the story since I was a child, and still, I haven't seen a single image to back up her tall tale, ah, I mean recollection. Old video? Still photo? Oil painting? Nothing.
It was December, 1965, and the former Gayle Erickson was attending Arthur Angelo School of Cosmetology and Hair Design in downtown Providence, learning techniques from the business owner and master beautician himself.
On this day in question, Mr. Angelo was to appear as a guest on the Jay Kroll Show, a local program taped across the street in the Outlet Building. The purpose? To showcase his skills, bring a bit of holiday cheer to the viewing audience and publicly humiliate my mother on her hour long bus ride home to Pascoag, during the packed evening commute.
Mr. Angelo handpicked three students to accompany him on this live on-air field trip to the WJAR studio, including my mom, whose blonde hair got the starring role of, what else, a Christmas tree. Long before the days of Hair Wars, Mom was broadcast across the airwaves, sporting green teased, tree-shaped hair, decorated with hanging balls.
That must have been quite a sight to see.
And thus I begin my hard-core quest to try to see it.
If this happened in, say, Las Vegas, I wouldn't have any hope at all. But this is Rhode Island, where Hope is our state motto. Plus we've got those crazy personal connections that puts Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon to shame.
Here, I feel confident that someone knows something. Or more likely, someone--who has old WJAR tapes. Or the personal collection of Arthur Angelo. Or a snapshot of my mom doing the bus ride of shame with her kerchief pulled low over her green locks.
So come on Rhode Island. Don't fail me now.