The sign is as nondescript as the red-brick building it has been gracing on South Maple Street, in Aberdeen, MS, since 1956: VAUGHN'S BEAUTY COLLEGE. But behind this modest facade is such an interesting slice of American culture that I wanted to share some of it with you.
"My grandfather first started barbering in 1922, and he and his brother brought the first electric perm machine to Aberdeen," says owner Donald Vaughn, whose first job as a kid was to fan the ladies—"using those old church fans"—while their perms processed. His parents, Dorothy and Mahlon Vaughn, officially founded the school in June 1956, and it has been in continuous operation since then. Donald bought the business from them in 1982, but they're still very much a presence today, especially Dorothy. A past president of the Mississippi Cosmetology Schools Association, Dorothy "retired" a few years ago, at age 83, but hasn't quite stopped working. "She still comes in and bosses us around," Donald says.
Vaughn's graduates about 55 students a year in its three programs—cosmetology, nail technology and esthetics—and proudly displays 49 (and counting) class pictures dating back to '57, the first class to graduate. As they approach their 50th anniversary in business, I want to take this opportunity to wish them continued success. There's no place like home!