Culture & Society
The Late Mrs. Mop.
By Kitty Wintrob
TORONTO. July 20/22 – Kitty Wintrob, author and storyteller, lives in Toronto, Canada. She was born and raised in Britain’s east end of London. At the start of the Second World War in 1939, in the first three days of official evacuation, 1.5 million people were moved: 827,000 children of school age; 524,000 mothers and young children (under 5); 13,000 pregnant women; 70,000 disabled people and over 103,000 teachers and other ‘helpers’. Children, including Kitty Wintrob, were parted from their parents.
Today, we are delighted to publish Part Two of “The Late Mrs. Mop.” Part One was published on July 13/22.
This story can also be heard on our Community Jewish News Podcast Service. Click HERE to listen to it.
For the next week’s rehearsal, I pushed my hair inside my hat. Just a little showed in the front. To me, it looked very good. The fat commissioner came by again for inspection. Again she stopped and looked at me. I gave her a big smile. But she just glared.
“It still isn’t right my dear. Half of your hair is in and half is out. Either have your hair cut or forget about being in the Lord Mayor’s Show.”
I was really miserable. I knew I looked like Mrs Mop, but I loved my hair a lot. Yet, I really wanted to be in that show.
On the way home I decided I would go to the best hairdresser my mum could afford. Not to my mother’s in a little house where Connie cut hair. No, I would go to the man in the High Street. I had often walked past his shop and seen him standing by the door smiling at the ladies that passed by. He was a little man with slick grey hair and bulging eyes and a handlebar moustache. To me, he seemed ever so friendly and his shop looked really posh.
“Mum,” I said when I got home. “I’ve got to have my hair cut, otherwise I can’t be in the Show.”
“What?” she exclaimed. “All that lovely hair?”
“Can’t be helped, mum!”
She sighed. “All right then, I’ll take you to my Connie.”
“Oh, no mum! I want to go to that posh place on the High Street. Just this once, mum. I want to look ever so special.”
“But I can’t afford his prices, dear.”
And then Uncle Yudi chimed in. “I had a win on the horses yesterday. I’ll give her the money. She’s growing up, you know. Don’t send her to where all the old fogies go.”
My mother glared at him. But he gave me the money and off I went.
The place smelled delicious. There were perfume bottles and sprays all over the countertop. The little man came over.
“My assistant is doing the other two ladies, so I’ll take the pleasure of doing your hair.”
He put me in a chair, looked me all around, put a towel over my shoulders, and said, “My dear, I’m going to give you a wonderful bob and you’ll have a wonderful new look. You’ve got too much hair, you know. You look like Mrs. Mop!”
He began to cut. Snip snap, snip snap and the hair began to fall. Snip snap, snip snap, and more hair fell.
“Stop!” I cried. “Stop! Enough!”
“I’ve only done one side, my dear. I have to do the other side too or you’ll look quite lopsided. We have to make you a very fashionable look. You have to have a really nice bob.”
His scissors snipped and snapped again and more hair fell. And when he had finished tears swelled in my eyes. I looked like a chicken that had just been plucked. Long skinny neck, little face, and little hair on top and sides where I had always had such a mop.
But I didn’t want him to know how unhappy I was.
He looked me all around. “You look wonderful, dear,” he said. “Marvellous bob, a really fashionable bob. Come back when your hair starts to grow again.”
I paid him and ran out of the shop, crying all the way home.
“Look what he’s done to me, mum!” I said. “I can’t go anywhere looking like this. I’ll have to wear my hat forever.”
“It looks very nice,” she said in a very sad voice. But I knew she didn’t mean it.
I put on my hat and with the change from the cut ran up the street to the chemist. The lady who worked there knew me well.
“What can I do for you Miss,” she said.
I took off my hat. “Have you got some kind of lotion I can put on my hair to make it grow for tomorrow?”
“Oh no, dearie. Can’t get anything like that. Are you new to this street?”
“No! It’s me, Kitty!”
“Oh, it’s you! I didn’t recognise you. What have you done to your hair?”
“That’s why I want the lotion,” I said, tears pouring down my cheeks. “I want my hair to grow for tomorrow. That fancy hairdresser in the High Street cut it all off!”
“There’s nothing that will make your hair grow overnight. But you look lovely!” she remarked.
I knew she was lying!
“Couldn’t the chemist mix me up something? Even if it would take two days to grow. I wouldn’t mind.”
“I’m sorry dear,” she said as she came from behind the counter to pat my hair.
“Now you just go home and enjoy your lovely new bob.”
I put on my hat, still crying, and went home. I made up my mind I wouldn’t go to school that whole week.
Next week, the conclusion of The Late Mrs. Mop. Part Three: The Lord Mayor’s Show.
Kitty Wintrob is the author of “I’m Not Going Back: Wartime Memoir of a Child Evacuee.”
Credits: Kitty Wintrob photo Omar Mosleh/Town Crier; Wikipedia
Do you have comments or questions about this story? Contact Kitty Wintrob at email@example.com