Walla Walla hairstylist Ramona Moss hangs up her scissors after 71 years of career | Business

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Seafoam green walls greet guests entering Ramona’s Kut N ‘Kurl. And comfy dryer chairs upholstered in smooth avocado green vinyl with contrasting sides in a line of coordinating monochrome vinyl brocade on one wall.

Across the street are shampoo bowls and cabinets for two styling stations, while mid-century modern waiting room chairs hug the dryer seats.

But Ramona Moss’ cheerful, seasonal decor has changed in her Eastgate beauty salon at 2019 Isaacs Ave. without fail every month is gone.

The carefully groomed Moss sets down her scissors and tucks away her rollers, hairpins, wavy clips, razor cutters, duckbills, rat combs, hairspray and a myriad of other accessories that make up the middle of the room. salon.

The shelves and counters are empty. The show is quiet before it closes this month.

Moss, 91 in July 2021, has been a judge at this institution for the past 53 years, renting the space since she opened the store in February 1968. At that time, she has been cutting and styling hair ever since. 1950.

Health and age, including that of her clients, are forcing her to leave, she said. And they haven’t been able to enter the store since COVID-19 security protocols temporarily shut down businesses in March 2020.

Sitting in the living room with his son-in-law and daughter, Rick and Cyndi Moss Walters, Moss recalled a recent afternoon in April.

The seasons of style

Hairstylist Walla Walla has remained with the company for all these years because, she said, “I love my hair, and with the elderly and middle-aged they were happy to do it, and I was happy to do it for them. “

“It became mom’s ministry,” added Cyndi Walters.

Moss outlived his clients – perhaps 12 are still alive. Two of his clients were 100 years old and one recently died at 102. One stayed with her for 50 years, she said.

And its prices have stayed well below the industry standard. Previously, her hairstyles cost $ 6.50 and perms cost $ 20 to $ 25.

“I didn’t have the heart to charge more – they were on a fixed income,” she said.

Her clientele has declined dramatically since the heyday of the 1980s and 1990s, when she filled stylist positions and spun through dryer chairs and extra seats while at different stages of the cutting, curling, coloring processes. and permanent, chatting friendly all the time.

The regular customers, many each week, knew each other and made an appointment the same day of the week to ensure the social aspects of the visit.

When Moss first opened her shop in 1950, she bought used equipment – “it was old back then” – from a supplies vendor for $ 1,500. She modernized some of them by switching to hydraulically raised station chairs and dryer chairs with controlled air conditioning that doesn’t blow all over clients’ hair and get too hot.

Although she learned to use a hand-held hair dryer during her training at beauty school, she never made the switch.

Moss saw her share of popular hair styles that have marked the passing decades: bouffant, pixie, and ponytail – the latter which she wore in her early days – in the 1950s; beehive, upturned bob, afro cuts, asymmetrical Vidal Sassoon, Beatles “mop top” and “hippie” in the 1960s; long and straight, perms for men, mules, wedges, shags and dreadlocks in the 1970s; pouf hair and dizzying bangs, tall mohawks, Jheri curls, flattops, tall bleaches and totally shaved heads for men in the 1980s; blunt cuts, messy buns, high braids, curly hair, beach curls and feathered bangs in the 1990s; wavy, parted hair in the early 2000s; bobs, knots, ombre and any color of the rainbow most recently.

The ever-changing hairdressing industry isn’t just about styles. The equipment is also changing.

Tools over time

Moss started curling the hair using wide, open bobby pins with an elongated, deep V shape that pinned strands of hair coiled flat on the head to dry it. Narrow, open-ended bobby pins were revolutionary, she said, making them so much easier to use. She kept the pins on a magnetic bracelet for easy access.

The rollers have morphed several times from metal rods to wire shapes with plastic bristles to heaters, some held in place with long plastic pins, others clipped into position.

She made pickups, deliveries and home visits. Shaking his head, Moss remembered that one of his most difficult cases involved cutting someone’s hair down to mid-thigh. It was in mats, like dreadlocks. Moss placed the clothed client in the shower to wash off the unwashed mass of hair and finally untangle it so she could cut and style it.

“Mom got the precursor to electric rollers, boiled them, and curled my hair. My friends were jealous of my hair this way, ”recalls Cyndi Walters.

She brought some friends home from college so Moss could do her hair. When long, straight hair came in, Cyndi Walters smoothed hers down as she slept with it wrapped around empty orange juice cans. “It made him softer, almost straight. We didn’t have a hair dryer yet.

When it was a style for men, Rick Walters was among the clients who had their hair permed repeatedly. “Mom permed it all the time,” Cyndi Walters said.

Moss used a permanent wave machine for years that hung curling rods from electrical cords suspended above like an octopus.

“Very few perms are done over, and stylists don’t pin the curls, they do blow-dry styles,” Moss said.

Streaked or frosted hair has also undergone a remarkable evolution, from harsh, skin-burning chemicals and devices resembling torture chambers to the gentler formulas and techniques of today. Moss kept a set of small mugs in their original boxes with instructions for bleaching the hair. Cups of bleach were tied and strands of hair soaked or placed in the cups to achieve the desired shade.

“It’s a bygone era; you can’t find places like this anymore, ”said Rick Walters.

The start of the stylist

Born in Bowdle, South Dakota, Moss moved to Walla Walla when she was 6 years old. She graduated in 1948 from Walla Walla High School and, at age 19, Victor’s Beauty School above the Book Nook at the corner of First Avenue and Downtown Main Street.

She and her husband, Jim Moss, tied the knot a few days before she turned 20. He died in 2010.

She crammed Victor’s one-year course into nine months by taking classes six days a week. Hairstyles prevalent at the time included waving the fingers, with gel from the thickest Dippty-do species and a comb.

“I used wave grippers to hold my waves, and they always stuck – they turned out to be pretty good,” Moss said.

In the 1950s, curly hair and giving it more height were all the rage. She learned French lace and teasing techniques in Vancouver, Washington, to accomplish the super high beehive style.

She originally aspired to be a stenographer, but was barred from doing so due to a serious high school accident that left blind streaks in both eyes.

“I read the newspaper, saw an ad offering free classes to Victor’s first 30 girls. Why not, it was free, ”she said. It cost $ 25 for his first tools of the trade.

She gained experience at Webster’s on Isaacs Avenue through Dan Reeder Novelties, and in the Inez and Mode salons, both on Alder Street. Her store was previously located next door on Isaacs for 11 years, with a barber shop in the front and her salon in the back.

Cyndi Walters came to Kut N ‘Kurl after school and earned 7 cents for cleaning or straightening a small drawer and 11 cents for more important work. She washed the heavier, reusable curling papers, combs, brushes and curlers with soap and water, then Barbicide. She also sold Girl Scout cookies across the street at Fleenor.

Moss ensured that loved ones in the care of good friend Virginia Herring Mahan at Herring Groseclose Funeral Home looked their best by making shampoo sets. “Our paths have crossed quite frequently,” Moss said.

In beauty school, she had to learn the marcelling hairstyle technique popular in the 1920s. He used hot curling tongs to induce a curl, often done on a bob cut. “It was different. You had to know how to do it. It was difficult to do,” Moss said.

And blued hair was one thing, achieved by applying a lye bluing. “Two fraternity mothers were coming every week for the bluing, and their boys adored their blue hair,” Moss said. If done correctly, the graying hair took on a silvery shade, otherwise the hair turned blue, purple, or bluish-purple.

The always-full candy dishes Moss kept in the shop were a big draw. “The husbands who dropped off their wives would come and get some candy and ask, ‘Ramona when should I be back? “While taking another candy,” said Cyndi Walters.

WrapMemory as a trap, Moss listed the names of other stylists who attended clients at his second station. Nikki Loney Becker, for example, enjoyed working with 20-30 year olds, doing curly feather shags and overlays like actors Jaclyn Smith and Farrah Fawcett, and the iconic wedge made popular by champion ice skating Dorothy Hamill.Moss enjoyed working with the more mature clients. “Over the years, we got calls for an old-fashioned barber. I don’t know about old people, but we are old, and I guess you could call us old and old fashioned, ”she said.

To this day, Moss does her own hair. Another stylist gives her perms, except in 2020 where she went with straight hair while the pandemic kept her at home, but she puts them in curlers every night. “I never, ever wore straight hair,” she said.

Going out and seeing things is on Moss’ retirement agenda. “If my children are traveling, I will go with them, first to Bowdle (in the Airstream 2000 land yacht ‘Rosie’). Daddy’s church was there. We lived in the rectory. And they will be visiting the children of Payette-New Plymouth, Idaho.

She also expects to volunteer for those who can’t afford the luxury of hair care at senior centers and retirement homes when the going gets tough.

Moss hoped to pass the baton, and that plan came to fruition: Alisha Cunha will take over Kut N ‘Kurl from Ramona. She worked in Jan Corn’s boutique, Impress on Plaza Way, which is also closing as Corn retires this spring.

The new name of the store on Isaacs will be Glow.

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