Friday, March 12, 2010

Flashback Friday: Molasses and Grandma’s Hair

Right now I’m making ginersnaps for tonight’s fireside. Technically I suppose I’m writing a blog post…but I’ve already made the dough and now all I need to do is bake them so I’m kind of in the midst of making gingersnaps. I love gingersnaps.

And, actually, I love Kerr’s Halloween kisses.

And mostly I just like molasses.

So while I was pouring some molasses into a measuring cup (because the old saying “slow as molasses in February” holds no water here I was really pouring the molasses) I thought of my grandma.

My Grandma Conrad had brown hair, I think, when she was younger. All the pictures I’ve seen of her when she was young enough to have pigment still in her hair are in black and white, but I’m guessing it was brown because all of her kids have brown hair and most of her grandkids, save two, have brown hair. I don’t really know what colour my grandpa’s hair was, either, come to think of it. Was it black or brown?

I think my Grandma Layton had red hair. And I’m guess Grandpa had brown hair. Someone inform me! I don’t even know what color my grandparents’ hair are!

Anyway, Grandma wasn’t too keen on going gray or white. She dyed her hair for awhile, I think, because I remember a few pictures of her when her hair was obviously dyed brown, but eventually decided it was time to go au natural and stopped dying it.

That doesn’t mean she didn’t  try alternative methods to regain her original hair colour.

I remember that during dinner she’d take a cup of lukewarm water and then dissolve a tablespoon of molasses in it. She’d drink it, claiming that it would turn her hair brown. She did this for years, from what I can remember, and had to have noticed that it yielded no results but kept on, insisting that eventually it would happen.

It never did.

Perhaps the real reason she kept doing it because she enjoyed the taste of molasses, too, though she started claiming later that instead of turning her hair back to brown it would keep her grey hair from going white. My grandma ended up with beautiful silvery-grey hair that she curled everyday. It’s been grey for as long as I can remember (which explains why I can’t remember if her original colour was really brown).

Shortly before she died my grandma decided to colour her hair. She was depressed with the degenerating toll cancer was wreaking on her body and wanted to liven things up a bit, so she picked out a dark brown colour and away she went.

It didn’t turn out the way she had planned and instead of brown it ended up an orangey colour. She wasn’t impressed.

My aunt made sure to warn my mother, who in turned warned me and my siblings, that Grandma wouldn’t quite look like the Grandma we remembered while lying, auburn-haired, in her casket. She didn’t look like herself, of course, but I’ve found that no one really looks like themselves after they are dead—they look empty—so  it didn’t matter to me that she had dyed her hair.

I don’t think I’ve ever known my grandma to make cookies, speaking of things I don’t know about my grandma, but I’m sure she did. By the time I came along all her meals were simple and healthy—with the occasional amazing fruit salad. I wonder if she made cookies when my mom was a girl.

I wonder if I’ll stop making cookies when I’m older.

At least I made cookies today. Well, at least I made the dough. I’ve been sitting here writing for so long that Andrew gave up on me and decided to get the cookies ready to go into the oven himself. I love that boy.


  1. Grandma Conrad had brown hair, and Grandpa had black hair. She made cookies. Yum.

  2. Most of Grandma's cookies were healthy-ish anyways--banana cookies were the ones she made the most frequently that I can remember, with lots of oatmeal and nuts besides bananas. I LOVED the dough. The baked cookies, not so much. Sugar cookies for holidays, since they are so much work, with all the rolling, etc. No-make cookies or haystacks or whatever you want to call them if she was in a rush.

    Surely you remember me telling you the "But Mommy, is Daddy an Indian?" story about Auntie Colleen? Which totally features black hair.

  3. Bah--no way to edit silly mistakes. No-BAKE cookies. I don't think they had no-MAKE cookies then, though they certainly do now! Just slice and bake (Remember Grant asking you about those pumpkin cookies?) or even just open the package and put in the oven...