In the early to mid-1960s in San Francisco, there was a hair salon called “The Witches Hut.” Its claim to fame was that it was located in the North Beach area and was open until midnight. This was in the days of the Beatniks (well before the Hippie era) and the shop was frequented by quite a colorful clientele. It had the reputation of being a place where “ladies of the evening” could go and get gussied up before they went out on the streets to perform their “love for sale” act.
I was about fifteen or sixteen and the lure of the exotic called my name so strongly that I couldn’t resist! I was going to The Witches Hut at the earliest possible appointment! My girlfriend, and fellow adventurer, also named Linda (popular name of the day), wouldn’t let a chance like this pass her up either! We called and made appointments for the following Saturday to try out this salon that specialized in “do’s” for bad girls!
We took the bus to North Beach. In those days, North Beach not only had Beatniks, but it was also one of the naughty parts of the City. Clubs, girlie shows, random hookers, Beatniks and street people abounded in the area. (A couple of years later, the “Topless” craze would be born in North Beach with the performance of a very young Carol Doda at the Condor Club on Broadway.) Linda and I went into the Witches Hut with high hopes. We thought at the very least we would see a prostitute or a famous Beatnik! We were somewhat dismayed when all we saw were several “regular” women getting various things done to their hair.
We both asked for “up-do’s” and settled in for the shampoo, set, and the eventual high rise hairdo. Since we both had reasonably long hair, this was quite a process involving “ratting” “teasing” and/or “backcombing” our hair and frightening amounts of lacquer spray. We both apprised ourselves and each other at the completion of our appointments and thought the results were amazing. My hair rose to an astounding height, maybe twenty-four inches on top of my head, where my friend Linda’s hair was even higher (since she had more hair).
We walked out with our heads held high and felt like we looked amazing! Keep in mind, this tower of hair would last about a week if wrapped nightly in toilet tissue to keep our cones and curls in place!
We were on the bus and an older man was sitting across from us. He smiled at us with a gold tooth flashing and tipped his hat. We smiled back at him. He then proceeded to say, “Ladies, I sure do love your hats!” We looked at each other and couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. We still talk about the day we got our Witches Hut hats!