Saturday, June 12, 2021

Shout Out to Cha Cha's/Rooster's - With a Special Dedication to the Girls Who Can "Trace Their Bloodline" to Harlan :)

(Edited - content added. PS added.)

Just wanted to give props to the salon that I mentioned yesterday, who just gave me probably the best haircut I've ever had -  Cha Cha's/Rooster's near the UK campus in Lexington! :)

ChaCha's hair designers/stylist are on the right wall, Rooster's barbers are on the left wall. The owners, a married couple, are a barber and a hair designer/stylist, respectively :)

Compared to the spa-type salons, it may not look like much - but it was actually voted the best salon in Lexington!

There are more posh spa-type salons, but as I've mentioned before, I'm already uncomfortable with allowing myself to be pampered and waited on, because I spent much of my life in service fields myself.

Then tack on the sort of stylist at more posh salons, who hold up a strand of your hair and make an "ewww" face about us hard-working gals, who don't use (or can't afford) salon services on a weekly basis - as if your hair had COVID or something - and I am out of there! lol

Not so with this place - highly skilled stylists/designers who have years' worth of apprenticeships before they become full stylists/designer on their own.

I thoroughly enjoyed my socially distanced time there, allowed myself a little bit of pampering, and my stylist, Emilee, was so friendly, fun, and genuine - and SKILLED! 

As a funny side note, she told me her grandparents were from Southeastern Kentucky.  

Me"So were mine, my father's side - where, exactly, in Southeastern Kentucky?"  
Emilee:  "Harlan."  
Me:  "Get outta here, seriously?  So were mine!  What are their last names?  Mine were Smith and Middleton, Coldiron further back (like the little burrow/burrough that's part of Harlan,  AKA known as a "berg" or "hollar," as my grandmother said).  Smith was my grandfather, Middleton was my grandmother's maiden name."   
Emilie:  "Ha!  Smith too!"  
The hair stylist next to us:   "OMG, I'm actually FROM Harlan - and my last name is Middleton lol!" 
Me:   "Ha, OMG, we're probably cousins!  So am I somehow related to everyone in this salon or what?" 

We then joked about ladies' names from that area, how many Marthas there are, both there and in Kentucky in general, and how her grandmother's name was Fanny (I also had an aunt named Fanny).

They got a big kick out of the fact that my great-grandmother's name was - I kid you not - Arizona Middleton, and everyone called her "Zonie" -  and how "That's soooo Harlan." 

Also, how my giggling grandmother from Harlan, Granny Ruth, had coal black hair like mine, but bleached it blond and big, for her entire life, like Dolly Parton, plus wore mini skirts and go-go boots until she was well into her 60s lol.

(What I did NOT mention is that my great-grandmother "Zonie's" first husband -  before my great-grandfather, Ben Middleton -  was actually shot and killed, over a pair of shoes, at a Harlan shoe store - which is also "so Harlan." ;)

But considering my grandparents left Harlan for Louisville in the  late 1950s, after my grandfather scored off the charts on his civil-service engineering exam for the State of Kentucky, despite lack of a college degree - and my dad, who graduated with a double-degree in Physics and Chemistry from EKU in 1963, on rural scholarship, then moved to Cincinnati (where I grew up) -  and apparently the multitude of relatives I apparently have here in Lexington now lol ...

... unlike the song, "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive"  - apparently  SOME people DO leave Harlan alive :)

The song was written and originally performed by Darrell Scott, which is the version used by the FX series "Justified"  ...

I can somewhat relate to U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, in that my father, too, ended up becoming an abusive "outlaw" - despite the double-degree in Chemistry and Physics from EKU and originally having a respectable, high-paying regional sales manager job for Fischer Scientific in Cincinnati.

He turned to life of crime, simply because the drama and violence was familiar, and hoping for that untaxed cash income  :(  

We were NOT close, to say the least ;)

Because in certain cases, as the saying goes, you can take the man (or woman) out of Harlan - but you can't take the Harlan out of the man (or woman).

I think this happens when the person believes Harlan's only problem is the poverty, without realizing that at this point, you also have to address the culture that resulted from chronic poverty.

HOWEVER, there are many exceptions that DO realize it's a more complex, layered issue  - like my Granddaddy, for instance. 

He was a straight arrow, honest man, without an abusive, violent streak in his body - any violence he committed was part of the job, either as a soldier or briefly as a deputy.

My granddaddy was a decorated Navy WWII veteran, hired by the federal government upon his return, to be a deputy for the Harlan County Sheriff's Department, to help clean up corruption after the first Harlan County Coal War in the 1930s and 1940s.

However, as mentioned, he eventually moved to Louisville, after realizing that Harlan's convoluted corruption, crime, and violence is a puzzle that will likely never be solved - and unlike my father, realized that at this point, poverty wasn't the only problem - that the culture of corruption and crime born of necessity has now become ingrained.

Point being, he and my dad  couldn't have been more different, they were like night and day.  

I think that sons and daughters of straight-arrow cops are often like sons and daughters of preachers and become the opposite -  too much to live up to, I guess? 

But vice versa happens, too - the sons and daughters of crooks can become straight-arrow cops or at least live a straighter path than their father's  - like Raylan, and like me - preferring my granddaddy to my dad :)

My dad, however, preferred the company and flashy, flashing-cash lifestyle of his grandfather, my Granny Ruth's father, Ben, who was a crooked insurance salesman, who used to take advantage of his Harlan neighbors' inability to read on contracts  :(

Regardless, at some point, like the Justified series shows, at least to some extent -  it's important to stop fighting those parental, familial, and/or hometown demons, and just - walk away/let it go.

Accept them as they are, forgive them -  even if from afar for your own safety - realizing you can't change them.  Make your peace with it for your own well-being.  :)

Because often, the environment is so toxic that it's best not to enable it, pretend it isn't/they aren't, or excuse it -  and also likely not in your best interest to be close - but it's still important to find at least private empathy for them, from a distance, considering the toxic environment that created them.

Because virtually no one is "born evil" - we all are born with the capacity and potential to do no harm or do greater harm - it's all a matter of choice, "justified" or not - and most people justify any harm that they do with excuses and blame, unfortunately, rich or poor or in between. 

However, remember that people from places like these don't have the same opportunities and choices the rest of us have.  That doesn't excuse them, of course, but it definitely has to be factored into the equation - with empathy.

And you survived - and for better or worse, all of this history has made you who you are today :)

Regardless - "believe you, me, as sure as I'm sittin' here"  - all three men, my dad, grandfather, and great-grandfather shoveled coal first, for at least a little while, in Harlan.

Back to the song, the artist who is likely most responsible for bringing the song to the mainstream, however, was Brad Paisley, who's deep, rich voice makes the song resonate and haunt you, but it's a little more country-Western than it is Bluegrass ...

But for us girls with Harlan roots, there's the Patty Loveless version, who also traces her bloodline to Harlan, in that her father was a Harlan coal miner, and she was born in nearby Pikeville, then the family moved to Louisville in the 1960s, to get better healthcare for her father's black lung. 

In fact, I almost Patty's version, because it's more wailing and soulful, "kin" to the British/Irish-rooted mountain Bluegrass sound :)

Thus, I dedicate the Patty Loveless version of the song to all of the girls like me, who can "trace their bloodline" to Harlan - because it was no easy feat for you, or your parents or grandparents, to get out of that trap - but you are to be commended - you "'dun good," as our families from there would say!!!

But at the same time, let us never be ashamed of our roots, forget them, or turn our backs on the history of Bloody Harlan - all the coal wars and forced-land-taking, corrupt lawmen being bribed by coal companies, the exploitation of company housing and stores, and the black-lung ignored for too long - and how hard life still is for our ancestors and relatives from Harlan - amen?


Just a note about that wood-and-rope swinging bridge seen in this video?

I believe there are several of them in Harlan, but back in the day, they didn't have cable suspension and mesh-wire sides to keep you from falling.

In fact, there was one directly behind my dad's house, growing up, which he had to cross every day to get to school - and it didn't have mesh sides and cable suspension, so it terrified him.

And that hillbilly shotgun reputation?

Well, most people don't realize the reason for that initially was that's how our ancestors, from Granny on down, greeted corrupt lawmen, showing up on their land, bribed by the coal companies to find bogus ways to legally and forcibly evict them off their land, when they refused to sell out to the coal companies for pennies.

Unfortunately, I think most people don't realize the limited opportunities and choices that poor people without power have to resort to, just to survive, when they're being exploited by power abusers, in chronically economically-deprived areas. 

Thus, many people ignorantly and wrongfully blame the violence and crime in these areas on the color of their skin, their lack of education, their politics, etc., rather than proof of this is what happens in areas with chronic economic deprivation and no other opportunities - regardless of skin color or religion or politics.

Even sometimes education level, like in my Dad's case, with a double-degree - because again, with some people, you can take them out of Harlan, but you can't take the Harlan out of them  :/

Because despite what Trump-style Republicans say or ignore (because it doesn't support their narrative) - 
note that "Bloody Harlan" is 96% white, Christian, and Republican - living proof that violence and crime has nothing to do with race, religion, or political persuasion - it has to do with chronically economically-deprived areas with little opportunity, being exploited by power abusers.

Which is why it saddens me, to no end, that the people of Harlan continue to keep voting for Trump-style Republicans and their own exploitation, allowing themselves to manipulated with fear-mongering about "ferners" and people not "just like them" in Trump fashion - which is all just BS distraction from the fact the same people peddling that crap to get their votes are the  same ones chronically cutting their throats economically, and thus the true threat to them and their livelihoods.  

It amazes me that even AFTER the federal government had to step in several times -  at their request - to help them battle coal companies' power abuse and exploitation of them and local law-enforcement corruption, they continue to vote Republican - but again, that's where Trump-style Republicans are smart.  

Trumpers know rural people - especially in Harlan - are fearful of outsiders, so they manipulate and distract them with fear-mongering, of anyone not like them,  when all the while, they are the ones exploiting and abusing them.

(And let's not even go there, with the generational complex trauma and ethical confusion that also occurs, as a result.)

BUT - like we talked about yesterday, despite all the drawbacks and darkness in Harlan, some of these same people are the ones that taught us how to still find laughter, love, and joy, despite having nothing :)

"You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" - Lyrics

In the deep dark hills of eastern Kentucky
That's the place where I trace my bloodline
And it's there I read on a hillside gravestone
'You will never leave Harlan alive'

When my granddad's dad walked down Katerin's Mountain
And he asked Tillie Helton to be his bride
He said, "Won't you walk with me out of the mouth of this holler?
Or we'll never leave Harlan alive "


Where the sun comes up about ten in the morning
And the sun goes down about three in the day
And you fill your cup with whatever bitter brew you're drinkin'
And you spend your life just thinkin' of how to get away 


Well no one ever knew there was coal in them mountains
'Til a man from the Northeast arrived
Waving hundred dollar bills
He said, "I'll pay you for your minerals" ...
But he never left Harlan alive 


Well granny, she sold out cheap and they moved out west of Pineville
To a farm where big Rich Man River was
I bet they danced them a jig and laughed and sang a new song
"Who said we'd never leave Harlan alive?" 
But the times, they got hard and tobacco wasn't selling
And ole granddad knew what he'd do to survive
He went and dug for Harlan coal
Sent the money back to granny ...
... but he never left Harlan alive 


Where the sun comes up about ten in the morning
And the sun goes down about three in the day
And you fill your cup with whatever bitter brew you're drinkin'
And you spend your life just thinkin' of how to get away
Where the sun comes up about ten in the morning
And the sun goes down about three in the day
And you fill your cup with whatever bitter brew you're drinking
And you spend your life digging coal ... from the bottom of your grave ...


In the deep dark hills of eastern Kentucky
That's the place where I trace my bloodline
And it's there I read on a hillside gravestone
'You'll never leave Harlan alive'


PS - Two afterthoughts  ...

The first is, I left a review for them and picture on Friday, which I rarely ever do online, but that's how happy I was with their service and how confident I felt after leaving - which is how you're supposed to feel after a salon visit, which I'm not sure I have ever felt :)

Of course, two days later, however, I'm now feeling self-conscious and resisting the urge to remove the picture, especially compared to all the young pretty things lol -  but I'm going to try to keep resisting that urge -  because women over 50 might appreciate the salon feedback and the news that we're welcome there, too :)

Anyway, while there, I noticed the typical amount of 5-star ratings, and became curious about what the lower ratings had to say.

You know what I noticed?

They weren't about the hair OR the stylist, but instead, they were about stupid stuff  that they either didn't think through first or try to ask the salon to  about before writing it lol.

Petty stuff like, "They didn't offer me anything to drink."

I didn't reply to her (or anyone), but I thought to myself ...

"Erm, Sweetie? Considering you had to wait outside until called in and wear a mask, the thought the state health department might not allow this non-restaurant to serve you food or drink, during a pandemic, never occurred to you - and you thought that fact that you were not offered food or drink at a hair salon, during a pandemic, warranted lowering your overall rating to just one star? Okay, well, I give the COVID pandemic itself a minus-10-million stars review - but that's not the salon's fault, now, is it?" 


And somebody else wrote a paragraph about how they've been going there for six years, but didn't get emails or texts reminding them of their appointment, but their son did.

So ... I got both emails and texts?  Both a week before and the day before.  

However, I noticed when you make an appointment online, you have to check the email and text appointment reminders to receive them - which is likely what happened, or there's a glitch - and I'm thinking had you called the salon to ask before you wrote that missive, they could've told you that, and it wasn't a new business decision or personal towards you. 

Then someone else said "they cut it and blew it out, but didn't style it." 

Now, I'm lucky if I go get a professional haircut once a year even before the pandemic - and I'm just grateful to be able to afford these type of services at all now, especially with COVID.

However, I'm pretty sure even rare-visit people girls like me understand that's the difference between purchasing a basic cut and blowout service versus a full-service consultation.  

It's the typical trend in hairstyling and I'm pretty has been the trend for at least last decade, hello? 

I'm sure they would've helped you style it anyway, during a cut/blow-out only, for free, had you asked.

Again, I didn't reply to anyone, but I found myself thinking ..

"Okay, but what about your actual hair - or about the stylist - and why didn't you ask the salon, before you passively-aggressive left Karen-type petty feedback?" LOL

See, this is why I'm convinced that social media is the downfall of civilization lol - and why I don't use it, other than this blog, for writing practice or things I want to draw attention to about our culture. 

 I rarely even leave actual reviews unless they're positive.  That's not to say I've never said anything negative here on my blog, about a place, but not as an official website review - and even before mentioning something negative my blog, I usually try to contact the place privately first to resolve it -  and it has to be heinously horrible or bizarre first lol.

Because I think that social media trains our brains  -
myself included - and our culture to be negative and interpret things negatively, assume the worst, and be passive aggressive, which results in leaving drive-by-shooting rantings about the pettiest stuff ...

... instead of, God forbid, at least trying to actually engage, discuss, and resolve things FACE TO FACE - or at least a call for the benefit of voice tone - with another human being.

These types things are often simple misunderstandings or miscommunications that could be easily explained, if we did :)


As for the second afterthought ...

In addition to the encouragement to having "no shame" from descending from Harlan, remember there actually may be an upside to saying your immediate family is from Harlan - it can kind of have the same effect as saying you're from inner-city Detroit, like my husband.

Although unlike Detroit, I'm not sure how much pride you'd actually want to take in Harlan - that may be taking things too far? LOL

HOWEVER, it can come in handy, if someone's messing with you too much.

Because then, you can always say:   "Yeah, so ... my father and family are from Harlan County, Kentucky ... making me one-half crazy-ass, hillbilly, redneck, which you probably don't want to tap into.  You sure you wanna F with me?" LOL


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.