1959. New girl in town. Preacher’s kid fresh off The Glory Road.

By Anita Garner

Anita Faye Jones, new girl.

Our family had just arrived from the Deep South and I would be attending high school in glamorous Southern California.  Daddy was one of those preachers who believed Jesus didn’t want to see makeup on a woman’s face.

This redhead has a thick Southern drawl but no discernible eyebrows
and lashes. They’re there.  They’re blonde.  You just can’t see them. 

But I know this girl.  If you tell her wearing makeup is a sin there’s every chance she’ll hide a makeup kit with a girlfriend, disappear into the bathroom at school after the official picture (the one her parents will see) is taken, and add some color.

The trick is to get to school early. Pencil in those eyebrows.  Lay on mascara and lipstick, then scrub it all off before heading home.  You could survive high school that way and then move away from home one minute after graduating.

Get yourself a roommate and rent an apartment.  Bleach a rebel-blonde streak, pile on makeup and head to a photo booth.

1960 version of selfies

You have to have the duck-face poses. It’s part of the growing up process.

Within a few months, I went blonde, lied about my age, started singing in nightclubs and Daddy stopped speaking to me. Eventually we made up (sort of) over rice and beans and cornbread at his kitchen table.


California Culture Shock, 1957 – Cotton To Cashmere

By Anita Garner

Modeling at Webb’s Department Store, Glendale CA 1957

My family arrived in Southern California from the Deep South in 1957, part of a migration of Southern gospel singers and musicians. We didn’t own much more than the contents of the trailer we pulled on Route 66 from Louisiana to my grandmother’s house in Glendale.  I was a sophomore at Herbert Hoover High School, working after school and weekends at Webb’s, the major department store on Brand Boulevard.

On certain Saturdays, some of us walked through the store modeling different ensembles which we changed several times a day.  We carried cards that described our outfits and answered questions about what we were wearing and where to find it in the store.

This sweater in the picture was my first encounter with cashmere.  It was a lovely shade of chocolate brown and the skirt was authentic Pendleton in a cashmere and wool blend. In those days, a sweater like that required hand washing in Woolite and that skirt would go to a dry cleaner who charged by the pleat. Not exactly practical for high school, right?  But many girls at Hoover wore outfits like that every day and they arrived in the student parking lot driving their own cars, many of them fancier than the vehicles owned by our teachers.

My other job at Webb’s, which I loved, was running the elevator.  During my training I learned an elevator still has a lot of glide in it once you release the handle, especially when it’s carrying the maximum number of shoppers allowed, so bringing that machine to a stop exactly even with the floor every time became a point of pride.

I was paid $1.00 an hour and the guys in luggage (on the mezzanine) gave me coffee for free.  In spite of being surrounded by elegantly dressed girls at high school, every time I got a paycheck, instead of saving for cashmere, I bought a record album.