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Hunker Down with Kes

Amherst Report Blames Leon

By Kesley Colbert
Posted 11/20/19

My hair has turned white and is falling out.People ask if my grandfather was bald. Well meaning folks explain in graphic detail how hair loss is inherited from “your mother’s side of the …

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Hunker Down with Kes

Amherst Report Blames Leon


My hair has turned white and is falling out.

People ask if my grandfather was bald. Well meaning folks explain in graphic detail how hair loss is inherited from “your mother’s side of the family”. I’ve heard repeatedly about this genetic hair-loss study done by Amherst College, or someplace like that.

I certainly don’t want to throw the Kennedy side of my family under the bus or toss cold water on the prestigious Amherst research but I’ve got my OWN ideas about my OWN thinning hair..

When I was seven years old I walked home from the Park Theatre after sitting through “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”. I took the shortcut through the woods behind the swimming pool. It was dark as pitch and the night came alive with strange sounds and bouncing shadows…

Something or somebody rose up out of the little pond on the edge of the woods wearing an underwater creature suit and chased me all the way to the house! I figure that evening was the beginning of my hair loss problem.

And that wasn’t the only time my older brother contributed to my “genetic” hair thinning. I accidentally broke Leon’s favorite 45 RPM record of Ben E. King singing “There is a Rose in Spanish Harlem”.

He grabbed me by the hair and slung me around in a circle. He dangled me upside down over the side of the railroad trestle and shook me till my eyeballs were dancing…and my fright level registered a 12.6 on the 10 point scared-out-of-your-wits scale!

I’m telling you with my hand up, I lost a few hairs that afternoon and some of the dark brown color…and at least five years off my life!

By junior high it was all about being cool. Not letting them see you sweat. You couldn’t “blend in”, you had to set the trend! And somehow all of that translated into coloring your hair for the upcoming summer. We used Hydrogen Peroxide. It didn’t turn your hair exactly blond. It was more like iron ore reddish orange.

I’m not sure what was in it. But it would foam up when poured on a cut. You could throw half a cup on a cat’s tail and he’d run two counties over before you could hem him up. It would peal the paint off a metal sign. And you can just imagine the permanent damage it could do soaked into every hair follicle on some idiot’s head.

Of course, I only used it for three summers.

The copious amounts of chlorine in the swimming pool water almost certainly didn’t help grow hair. And I can promise you a few threads jumped ship the night Diane Stoner and I took that curve out on the Shiloh Road on two wheels!

You probably don’t remember those old Riddell football helmets. It would near ’bout pull your ears off just getting one down over your head. Every time David Paschall tackled you, he’d give it a little twist. There was also some fear factor involved when Bob Cassidy came running at you full out! And we’d practice in 118 degree heat.

You’d yank that helmet off at the end of the day and your hair would be twisted, spindled AND mutilated. I’ve seen front hairs pushed all the way over to the back left side! And you think about a hundred days a season…for ten years.

That Amherst report might be where I read that wearing a baseball cap could lead to hair loss. Listen, I didn’t take one off during the season from the time I joined a Little League team till I left home for college.

I stood in Mary Hadley Hayden’s living room after we’d only been dating for a few weeks. Her very tall and big and not smiling father eyed me suspiciously, “Son, we need to have a talk. I want to know your intentions towards my daughter.”

“I…uh…well…er…I…uh…” I could feel the sweat sliding down my forehead. My heart was beating faster than the “Enterprise” at warp speed. And little individual strands of hair began to float past my eyes as they danced their way to the Haydens’ living room floor.

College algebra cost me many sleepless night and, for sure, a few tresses. I got married and took on family responsibilities. I had teenage boys. I worked a couple of years in a public job. I have grandchildren that call when their parents ground them for a few days wanting me to mediate…

The real story here is that I have any hair left at all!




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