Baby, You Can Dry My Hair

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” -- William Morris


I need to stop buying things just because they're old. It's like a disease. Was this thing manufactured before 1980? Is it older than me? Is it likely to have a mundanely interesting history involving some smidgen of Americana? Might I have seen it on The Wonder Years at some point? Excellent, I'll take it, thank you very much.

Case in point: this weekend, in a small antique shop in a small town in the Central Valley of California, I bought a 32-year-old hairdryer. Yep, a 32-year-old hairdryer: a hairdryer that is the same age as my boyfriend. Will I ever use it? I really, really doubt it. But it was, after all, only five bucks. And besides, I fell in love with the carrying case.

Actually, truth be told, I only bought it for the carrying case. When I first saw it, I thought it was a hat box, see. "This hat box will be perfect for carrying my new hat to England next month!" I thought, and I picked it up.

It was an awfully heavy hat box, though, and so I opened it, and what did I find inside? Well, heavens to Betsy (Draper), I found this:

Look at that! It's a hairdryer from 1976, manufactured in Bridgeport, Connecticut, only about half an hour from the town where Sean grew up.

Well, a five-dollar hat box is one thing, as you can imagine, but a five-dollar hat box that comes with a bonus 32-year-old hairdryer? That is an entirely different thing: a much, much, much more awesome thing. How could I say no to the mental image of some happy young homecoming queen drying her Farah Fawcett locks with this getup in small-town California in 1976? Well, I couldn't, of course. So that was that.

"Ah," said the woman in the shop when I brought it up to the counter. "You're buying the hairdryer!"

"I'm buying the hairdryer!" I squealed. (I was also buying a fifty-cent juice glass that looked to be from the late 1960s and a very small bell jar for two dollars fifty.) (I'm sorry I keep telling you the prices, I know it's gauche, but when a juice glass is fifty cents, I can't keep my mouth shut. Fifty cents! You can't feed a parking meter for ten minutes on that!)

"You know, someone almost bought that hairdryer yesterday," said the woman. "But at the last minute she put it back."

"AND NOW IT'S MINE!" I yelled triumphantly, thrilled by this sudden revelation that fate had led me to the 32-year-old hairdryer, that---dare I say it?---it was meant to be. I may have pumped my fist.

"Um yes, dear," mumbled the woman, eyebrows raised wryly. "Aren't you the lucky one."


(I'm still going to use the carrying case as a hat box though, and maybe sometimes even a purse. Wouldn't it make the best purse ever? Maybe with this dress? And oh, so roomy and useful! Just imagine! "Wallet? Check. Keys? Check? Hairdyer? Check. Well, that's alright then, I've got everything I'll need. Let's roll.")

Camels & Chocolate
Sep 14, 2008

Oooh what town in Central Valley were you visiting? Um, I sure hope it wasn't Vacaville, because I'm very eager to lose my Vacaville Outlets virginity to you at some point when we're both in the country (what are you doing in early 2010?).

Also, I love this hat box/purse/hairdryer carrying case. It looks like it could have come from the Alameda Antiques Fair.

Sep 14, 2008

Oh my goodness, so freaking worth it! I'm a huge fan of "original box, original instructions". I bought a traveling vanity mirror because it was in its original little briefcase, and also cause it had the name of the mirror in jaunty little lettering across the front, "Mirror-Go-Lightly". Love.

Sep 15, 2008

My mom had a hair dryer just like that one that I discovered at my grandmother's house about 5 years ago. I was slightly horrified to learn that women used to actually just sit there and with this thing attached to their heads. I mean - what a giant pain!

I think it's still underneath the bathroom sink. I should totally eBay that.

Sep 15, 2008

Oh, well you are the lucky one! I absolutely love it. I do think that it would make the best purse, especially with that dress.

Sep 15, 2008

When my mom did my hair up in curlers as a kid (which I hated. I called the result a "rock n roll hair style."), she's use one like that to dry my hair.

Sep 15, 2008

What a great find! I bought a 32-year-old Kitchen Aid Mixer and it is divine.

Sep 15, 2008

My mom had a very similar version in powder blue that she used when she put her and our hair up in curlers.

Love the carrying case - totally fab!

Sep 15, 2008

I have that same carrying case in red. Only mine is just a suitcase, not a hair dryer case. Hmmm... I think I shall go look for it in the garage and get back to you.

Sep 15, 2008

I actually used one of those pretty regularly when I was rolling my hair flat. It is the exact same model I had, too.

Also interesting, I grew up right next to Bridgeport.

Sep 15, 2008

I'm just happy the previous owner took the directions on the "Use and Care Book" seriously and saved it. Phew!

Anonymous New York
Sep 15, 2008

It's lovely! We had one of those when I was growing up. I guess it was my grandmother's. It was orange and had a loud, seventies print on the inside. My sister and I would use it occasionally to combat suburban boredom. It actually worked well on my curly hair (before I discovered a diffuser), but I was way to impatient to sit and let it dry completely.

kitty joe
Sep 15, 2008

you totally just took me back to the first day of third grade when my great-grandma lottie made shirley temple curls with my hair using rags...and a hairdryer just like that. except its carrying case was square and ugly. it wouldn't have fooled you into buying it.

Dr. Maureen
Sep 15, 2008

I love that the book says, "Save this book," and, BY GOD, she saved it.

Sep 15, 2008

OMG, this is the same hair dryer my mom had, too. I can totally remember sitting under that bonnet with a head full of plastic curlers. Thanks for the memory!

Sep 15, 2008

I remember those things! I used to feel like such a grown up when my mom or grandmother would let me use it. Of course, I was 3, so that lasted about 2.5 minutes.

Anne in SC
Sep 15, 2008

Cute case (or hairdryer). My mom actually used to have one and I can remember sitting under it as a child thinking how antique it was then. And you're right, it would go great with the dress.

I actually came here today to let you know that your friend Nathan Bransford's blog has been listed as a "Blog of Note" with blogger. They issue this list periodically to get their subscribers looking around. Thought that was neat. I'm sure they've probably told him, but just in case, I thought I would let you know so that you can let him know...

Anne in SC
Sep 15, 2008

Did I spell his name right? It didn't stick in my brain while I was navigating.

Sep 15, 2008

Oh yeah! We used have one we played with, and on cold days would wear it just to warm up. Either that, or we would put the Barbies under it...

Anne & May
Sep 15, 2008

I tell you what, the women in the olden days were a lot more woman than I am. I can barely be bothered to dry my hair in 2008. If I had to stare that thing down every morning, I'd have just gone without.

However that case is SMASHING. I loooovvveeee it.

Sep 15, 2008

i was definitely going to say - use it as a bag!! until i read that you were thinking it, too. nice

Sep 15, 2008 soon as I saw the picture I knew what it was. It took me waaay back to when I was a kid and my Grandma had one just like that but, I think the case was blue. I was surprised that it was made in 1976 because I had always thought that she had had that dryer from long before that (50's like). I did so like getting curlers in my hair and then drying it with that dryer!

Sep 15, 2008

Oh, I just have to add that my mom had one of those (yes, I am a bit older than you Holly) and she would set our hair in pin curls and we would sit under it, I loved the smell it put out, probably cancer causing chemicals now! Also, hers had a little vent dealie-doo that you held your freshly painted fingernails in front of and it blew warm air on your nails to dry them! Eileen

Sep 15, 2008

THAT is awesome!

Sep 15, 2008

Only you could pull off buying a 32 year old hairdryer and actually looking cool/hip/cute/vintage. Anybody else would look like a weird rat-packer kind of person.

This hairdryer-in-a-case thing reminds me of the scene in the movie Spaceballs when they're going around the desert, lugging the Princess's very important luggage around. When they finally get fed up with it, they open it up and find a giant hairdryer in it.

Sep 15, 2008

That brings back memories of my mom using one of those hair dryers. When us kids were making a ruckus, she'd simply detach the hose from the bonnet and come yell at us!

Sep 15, 2008

ummmm....should I mention that I'd love to dry my hair with one of those? I figure with all my non-stylist-experience that I could totally use one like that instead of a diffuser and I WOULDN'T HAVE TO LIFT A FINGER to hold that oh-so-heavy hairdryer+diffuser near my head, tilting my head (neck strain?) to scrunch the curls. why not let the dryer do the work for me?!

I could read a magazine while my hair dried.

Oh yeah - I could do that for free without a dryer. Never mind.

Sensibly Sassy
Sep 15, 2008

I had the exact same vision as you (Farrah fawecet locks etc). There is something interesting about stuff that has a story huh?

Sep 15, 2008

Holy flashback! Just like so many of the other commenters, seeing this brought back memories of the pincurls (Mom tried so hard to make my hair pretty), the sound (loud enough that my brothers couldn't bother me), and the smell (my six-year-old mind let me pretend I was at a beauty parlor). Love this. I'm so excited for you to use it!

Sep 15, 2008

This IS the best thing ever!

Sep 15, 2008

I just KNEW you were a MAD MEN fan!

Knew it.

- M

Sep 15, 2008

You ARE the lucky one! (Please tell me you're going to at least try to use the blow dryer? Even just once?)

Sep 15, 2008

We had one of those hairdryers when we were litte. My mom would use it when she put curlers in our hair. I was the youngest of 4 girls so when it was my turn it always smelled like it would burst into flames any second. Oh the memories. If only this had smell-o-vision.

Shamelessly Sassy
Sep 15, 2008

My grandmother had the very same portable hair dryer. When she passed away, two of my aunts fought over it for at least three weeks.

Sep 16, 2008

LOL it looks like some sort of vacuum cleaner :) That's fantastic.

Sep 16, 2008

My mother used to have a hair dryer like that! I remember being very confused by it.

Sep 16, 2008

Used one all the time when I was a kid. Rolled my hair on rags or pink foam curlers- took forever to dry, but we got to watch TV or read while wearing the bonnet.

I bet it is still at my mom's house somewhere. They moved to that house in 1971 and I truly believe that almost everything that has ever gone in is still there somewhere. Except my Hot Wheel and Matchbox cars which were under the guestroom bed for 25 years and can't be found now that I actually have a son who would love them. Oh, the irony!

Sep 17, 2008

I thought it was a hat box too! Or a purse!

Please tell me that the hair dryer works. I want you to use it!

Sep 18, 2008

Oh ... you just took me back 30 years. My mom had the exact same thing, but in blue. As a wee child, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Will our children look back at our iPods and cell phones and say the same thing?