(Unless otherwise noted, the Kathryn Tucker Windham blog is written by her children, Ben Windham and Dilcy Windham Hilley.)
My brother and I hit our teenage years and early twenties in the heart of the hippie movement.
It was an energetic time to be young. We had wars to protest, nature to worship, artistic music to experience, establishment to rebel against, and lots and lots of long beautiful hair.
In Selma, as in most of Alabama at that time, the movement was much more about hair than it was about drugs and being antiestablishment, and, man, did those freak flags fly. Our former-military high school principal would have none of it and regularly suspended the boys whose hair tickled their shirt collars. That often meant those same boys were ejected from their homes for refusing to conform.
Oh, it felt good to rebel. It didn’t, however, feel so good to be hungry.
For some reason that can be explained only as having a Haight Ashbury inner child, my mother regularly welcomed our long-locked friends into our home. She fed them when they were hungry and sometimes even negotiated a truce with their parents. The accord generally involved a haircut, but not before Mother would share with the boys an ode to revolt she remembered from her childhood. It went:
“Johnny Boy, who cut your hair?
You say your mother did.
Did she cut it with a meat axe,
You funny looking kid?
Did she freeze it, son,
And break it off?
Whatever she did was wrong.
So take my advice
If you wanna look nice,
And, Johnny, let your hair grow long!”
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"Some people are important to intellectuals, journalists, or politicians, but Kathryn Tucker Windham is probably the only person I know in Alabama who is important to everybody."
–Wayne Flynt, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Auburn University.
Ben Windham & Dilcy Windham Hilley
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