The optificational principles of bluing was known to us country folk since 1880-somethin'. Always makes me laugh when city folk buy all manner of potions and expensive thingummers to get their whites "whiter". Any fool with a good old fashioned schoolin' knows that people see a blue-white as "whiter" than a real white, therefore, puttin blue into yer warsh makes it appear whiter than it is, and Maw-Maw's been usin bluing, a kind of blue crystal, for ever.
I did some slight studyifying of optics when I was lookin' to improve my night shooting and dusk fishing. Gotta go out at dusk to catch the big bass.
But anyway, some bright spark decides that if you can put bluing in the warsh, then most certain it might work on hairs as well. We already knew that, we were warshing dogs and goats to make em whiter and shinier for the county fair. Old folks' hair goes any manner of craziness. It can look pinky at the scalp and yellow, just like a white rat them kids wanted back in the day, or like as Copperhead Bob, when he got older, all his freckles done bleached out and what little hair he had left went like a really faded sepia print.
Our Joan had them two kids, funny story on that really. Times have changed enough and it's been so long she won't mind. Came back from the harvest dance with a bit of pine straw sticking to the back of her dress and even after they got pregnant right after decidin on a whim to get married, we didn't say nothin. Good thing the boy came early, too. Jim was heavy when he came out, almost a turkey, not a baby. Growed up strong, too. We'd go lookin for him at dinner time and he'd come out of the bushes with half of the woods in his hair and holding something that was green, scaly and wrigglin. We got right worried that one time he came wanderin out dragging a biggun timber rattler like a field dressed deer, but he never got hurt none and the Pastor quoted something from the Good Book about handling snakes if you're right with the Lord. I don't normally argue with the Pastor, but this time, I think I will. Jim was a good kid and we loved him but he was ornery and one night him and that girl he was seeing, the Waylan girl, were kilt on Deadman's Curve. Too fast in that GTO, and I told him that I didn't hold with liquor (ever since I got saved), especially when driving. Hopefully the Pastor's right and Jim was right with the Lord all along, but God moves in mysterious ways.
Maw-Maw didn't say much - she was grievin as we all were. Had the service here in Hard Labor Creek. Jim was fond of the country - country boy through and through. He was fixin to be buried in his Skynyrd T-shirt and holdin' a bottle of Wild Turkey, but Maw-Maw said that weren't right in a church, at a funeral, and we got his hair cut and put him in his Sunday best. He was scowlin' a bit during the visitation, but I'm sure now he's with the Lord he understands.
I usually let the womens get on with things, I was out in the shed, and apparently Joan, who'd taken up with some feller in Alpharetta who moved away when he was a kid, got some strange and fancy ideas out in Atlanta, and said that Maw-Maw's hair was right dingy some, and would she mind if she rinsed her hair blue. Maw-Maw didn't like him much, the time she came across all them kids competing to see who could knock the most quarters off the table with their tallywhacker. Said they were arguin' he'd cheated by pulling his gunnysack right over his pecker and gained an extra two inches. Other boys said that was cheatin, boy said it's just as much a part of a pecker as any other, and when they got to fightin Maw Maw went out to see what the ruckus was, and she done switched them boys all the way home to their maw and paw. Anyhow, she'd since buried the hatchet with Joan's feller, damned if I can remember his name. Anyway, easier to explain to Maw-Maw, said it was like bluing and the time that we blued that dog we were fixin to enter into that show, make its hairs whiter n snow. She did NOT like being compared to ol' Bessie, and almost walked out then. But there was a part of Maw Maw that knew - Joan was buryin' her own kin, and needed to DO something. So her and Joan went off into the bathroom and I went back to cleaning my muzzleloader on the porch.
Maw Maw came out of that bathroom more ornery than that cottonmouth I found in my garage, coiled up next to my tool box that one Autumn. Her hair was bright blue. I don't mean robin's egg blue, I mean a hard, hard BRIGHT blue, like you see on a new mailbox. She was carryin on something fierce about how could she go to church like a good Christian woman with her hair all blued up like one of them new waver kids in Little 5 Points.
Joan got to crying, and Maw Maw softened up some, and there was still time, so they done went to the salon all the way out in Buckhead and she come back with her hair dyed ever so slightly pink. Maw Maw always liked pink. Nothin' was said over dinner, no one had to be warned. We knew. And Maw Maw kept goin every month after that to touch it up. She was quite the talk of the town hall and after church, with her pink hair all coif'd. After she done lost enough teeth she lost interest, sayin there's no point in vanity at her and my's age. I'm fixin' to agree. Still love her like the day we met.