Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fazio's Beauty School

Lawrence – My Hometown

Fazio’s Beauty School

By Richard E. Noble

I don’t know how the beauty school bubble got inflated in the 50’s and 60’s but it was big. In Lawrence there was Fazio’s Beauty School. My mother is a past graduate of Fazio’s beauty school. This fact is really more amazing than any of you realize. My mother had serious difficulty in certain areas - reading, learning and school for example. She always claimed that my father never graduated from high school but she did. Whenever she made this claim I demanded to see her diploma. She would run off to her bedroom and start foraging in an attempt to add fire to this obvious exaggeration. She was never able to produce that high school diploma but threatened that one day it would turn up and then she would have the last laugh.
It took my mother 11 years to pass her driver’s license test. My older sister gave mom driving lessons for several years, then I took over and my older brother actually gave it a try for a year or two. It had become a sort of family tradition. I anticipated that my oldest son would take up the burden when he came along.
My sister’s reaction to the experience was one of frustration. I became seriously frightened. I had nightmares that by some fluke of fate, my mother would actually have a good day and the guy at the driver’s license bureau would pass her. It didn’t happen while she was under my tutelage.
My brother was a saint. He had the best reaction of any of us. After every driving lesson he gave my mother, he would walk in the kitchen door, take one look and me or my sister and burst out laughing. My sister and I would both nod our heads knowingly.
But my mother did have her areas – knitting, sewing and doing hair. She was the daughter in her large family who did everyone’s hair.
I had the same attitude to Fazio’s Beauty School as my mother did to the first Kentucky Fried Chicken joint that opened up in our neighborhood. As I remember it was on Broadway on the next corner just past the Star Theater heading towards Essex St (Daisy St.) My mother said, “Why in the world would anybody buy something as simple to cook as fried chicken from a store? That joint will be out of business in a week.” And as you all know, she was right again. It moved to a bigger location leaving that corner to become a Syrian sandwich shop, specializing in homemade kibbi salad sandwiches which, of course, were served on fresh Syrian bread and topped with a fantastic secret Syrian dressing.
When all the girls, including my mother in her mid-life crisis, started signing up at Fazio’s beauty school, I said, “Why would anybody go to beauty school when everybody has a sister who will do it for nothing.” And, of course, I was right as usual. I also predicted the early demise of McDonald’s and gave the Carol Burnett show no more than a month on the air.
Frankie Avalon actually recorded a song admonishing young girls for dropping out of high school and going to beauty school. I bet he thought he was pretty cleaver too. [Press control and click on link below to see and hear Frankie give warning to a “Beauty School Drop Out” in this classic Grease presentation. The lyrics are below if you would like to memorize them and sing along. Man this is just like going to the RATS (STAR Theater)]

Your story's sad to tell, a teenage ne'er-do-well
Most mixed up non-delinquent on the block
Your future's so unclear now,
What's left of your career now
Can't even get a trade-in on your smile
Beauty school drop-out, no graduation day for you
Beauty school drop-out, missed your midterms
And flunked shampoo
Well at least you could have
Taken time to wash and clean your clothes up
After spending all that dough to have the doctor
Fix your nose up Baby get moving (better get moving),
Why keep your feeble hopes alive
What are you proving (what are you proving)?
You've got the dream, but not the drive
If you go for your diploma, you could join a steno pool
Turn in your teasin' comb and go back to highschool
Beauty school drop-out, hangin' around the corner store
Beauty school drop-out, it's about time you knew the score
Well they couldn't teach you anything,
You think you're such a looker
But no customer would go to you,
Unless she was a hooker
Baby don't sweat it (don't sweat it),
You're not cut out to hold the job
Better forget it (forget it), who wants their hair done by a slob
Now your bangs are curled, your lashes twirled,
And still the world is cruel
Wipe off that angel face and go back to highschool
Baby don't blow it, don't put my good advice to shame
Baby you know it, even Dear Abby's say the same
Now I've called the shot, get off the pot, I really gotta fly
Gotta be goin' to that maltshop in the sky
Beauty school drop-out, go back to highschool
Beauty school drop-out, go back to highschool
Beauty school drop-out, go back to highschool

One of my good buddies married a graduate of Fazio’s beauty school and to this very day they have a thriving beauty business. Today they have a school teaching all the various techniques of hair and skin care.
Some of the old gang question our good buddy’s importance in this enterprise. I’ve been told that they actually got together and hired a detective agency to follow our pal around in an attempt to find out what he actually does to contribute to this company’s viability. After several months of intense investigation, the agency reported that they had no idea what this fellow’s actual responsibilities are – and to this day nobody really knows what the heck he does. I suppose we could ask his wife but you all know how women are. Women and their men are like guys and directions. They just go on and on. But I have confidence that he is responsible for something even if no one yet has been able to determine exactly what it is.
Einstein had the very same problem at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study. To this day no one knows what Einstein actually accomplished at Princeton. I always felt that if he wasn’t such a radical and maybe if he studied a little harder he might have gotten into Harvard. As it was there were many Americans who wanted to have him deported because of his unpatriotic attitudes towards war and the draft … E = mc² or not.
I have a niece who once worked at the Yellow Strawberry on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale Florida. She made more in tips in one day than I ever earned in a week. Of course, she had a lot of “funny” looking friends – but don’t we all.
Now my mother, on the other hand, never got past doing her sisters’ hair. You might be saying, Well if she never got her driver’s license how could she get a job if she couldn’t even drive to work?”
Well, she did get her driver’s license. I could not believe it when she came walking through the kitchen door waving that license in her hand. I asked her for the name of the man who had passed her at the driver’s license bureau. I went down to the office and spoke with him.
“Did you have an applicant by the name of Mary Noble recently?”
“I have had an applicant by the name of Mary Noble about once every month for the last eleven years,” he said defiantly.
“Yes,” I said. “And on each of those occurrences over those eleven years you have been consistently wise enough to flunk her. She returned home last week with a certified driver’s license in her hand. Do you have an explanation?”
“Not a good one,” he said. “Basically, I figured she was not going to quit trying and if I kept flunking her she would probably keep returning until she killed the both of us.”
“So you just decided to let her loose on the general public?”
“Better them than me,” he said lowering his head and returning to his paperwork.
There is of course a very important lesson to be learned from this sad story. The lesson as I see it is, What the heck is wrong with your daughter or mother going to beauty school? Or, Why should anyone take advice from Frankie Avalon?

Richard Edward Noble is a freelance writer and columnist. His local column, the Eastpointer, won the first place 2007 humor award from the Florida Press Association. He has published several books. All of his books can be viewed and purchased on Contact for bookstore discounts and volume sales.

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