William Collier: Synopsis of a Memoir, Pt. 13 - The Results

November 05, 2015

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As I removed the rollers and began the process of finishing my first client; thinking about this experience retrospectively, it becomes yet another confirmation of the opening that occurs when the universe “lines up.”

Brushing Mrs. Bullitt's hair prior to the finishing touches, while observing her image in the mirror, gave me no indication what her thoughts were. As I continued to finish styling her hair, a distinct sense of available reception became apparent.When I was completely finished, at the surprise of everyone in the room, namely Mr. Bennett, I verbalized my opinion, “Mrs. Bullitt, I am not completely pleased with the results.” The tone of her response indicated her neutrality and encouraged a conceptual solution. She had a rather low voice and replied appreciatively, “What do you propose we do?” I explained that I was a student of the Leo Passage Pivot Point method of hair design and would design a style distinctively appropriate for her to be applied on her next visit. I was never sure, but always felt that my boss was speechless in a good way. She was agreeable to my proposal and gave me a genuinely gratifying hand shake and exited the room seeming to have enjoyed her appointment that morning. I had the pleasure of attending to Dorothy Bullitt’s hair requirements for the next  15+ years. Her presence as a client, confidant, and friend is regarded as a “Hallmark” experience in my career.

There were several occasions when I enjoyed an invitation to her home on Federal Avenue on Capitol Hill, nearVolunteer Park. We would sit in a small parlor like room...there was a bit of formality that was very pleasurable. Her house person prepared Moscow Mules, served in appropriate copper mugs. She always had her teacup poodle either by her side or on her lap. Our conversations would often include stories of her childhood and how she rode in her own horse and buggy on Capitol Hill, as well as what I saw as my future in the hair industry. She was interested in anything and everything. After returning from a trip to Europe and attending the World Hairdressing Cballard locksompetition in Stuttgart, Germany she arranged for me to appear on a King TV morning news program with then moderator, Shirley Hudson. We discussed my experience abroad as well as shared some photographs that were extremely fashion forward in a “New Wave” style -- a total statement of defiance which totally bombed. On a particular occasion while having her hair done, I mentioned we were planning a summer get together for my staff; she generously offered her Tugboat and was at the dock to greet us when we boarded.Everyone brought a favorite food dish and we cruised out of Lake Union through the Locks and into Puget Sound. We were out for four or five hours... a very unique and memorable event. We enjoyed a like-minded sensibility on matters politically, social equality, and shared a liberal commitment in general.

On the day her passing was announced in the newspaper a very unique coincidence occurred. In addition to my hair salon business I owned a hot dog vending cart across the street from the Seattle Aquarium on the water front. A day or so prior to the announcement in the newspaper a reporter stopped by the cart indicating his interest in taking a photograph of the cart and getting some hot tips on grilling. I tried to get him to photograph the person running the cart, Judi Wygant, indicating that I had just stopped by to drop off a few things. He insisted that I not only be in the photo but that I should appear to be demonstrating my technique with the tongs. Ironically, on the day that Mrs. Bullitt’s photo was published on the front page of the newspaper announcing her passing, the photo of myself and Judi appeared on the upper right corner on the same day. Coincidence…?




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