Missana's hairdressers

Hairdressers above J.Lyons in North Street
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

Ladies and gents hairdressing

The hairdresser’s in this photo, above Joe Lyons, 14 North Street, was once run by a Mr and Mrs Missana. When I was seven or eight maybe, in approximately 1953/4, my mother sometimes took me to her part time work at Missana’s. A side entrance at Lyons led upstairs to two departments. The ladies section at the front was governed by Mrs Missana where they did not only hair dressing but manicure, eyebrows, and face massage too. Mr Missana preferred his staff not to knit in quiet periods. Mum was quite an artist, so spent her relaxing moments drawing. She had quite a collection of drawing blocks and I loved browsing through them.

Working in the school holidays

The gents department, in the connecting room to the rear, was run by Mr Missana. He was of Italian origin and if I remember correctly his Christian name was Rudolph. My mother would be called in to cut the gents hair sometimes if they were busy which could include a shave and steaming hot face towels. In school holidays I was allowed to go to work with her. I would help sweep up the hair after cutting or sort the curlers in the trays ready for the next customers. Sometimes a customer would give me a small tip for sweeping up.

Mother’s lucky number

My mother’s lucky number was always thirteen. That included the thirteen diamonds in her engagement ring. One day she noticed one of the little diamonds was gone. Lots of searching went on at home and work but to no avail. Number thirteen was gone. About six weeks later, in a holiday period, I was helping sweep up when suddenly I said, “Mum, what’s that shining there?” Lo and behold it was the missing diamond. Difficult to imagine after six weeks of constant sweeping up after cutting many a hairdo, that this minute little thing would still turn up. So number thirteen was lucky enough to have escaped the broom and the trash bin and stay lucky. That day I believe I got some extra pocket money for all the excitement and relief it brought, so number thirteen brought me some luck too.

Ladies – do you remember this hairdressing salon – maybe you had a perm there in the 1950s. And gentlemen – any of you call in here for a short back and sides? If you can share your memories with us, please leave a comment below.

Comments about this page

  • Hi Sandra, Giovanni Rodolfo (Rudolph) and Florence Missana took over the premises from a George Moore during the 1930s, having previously had salons in King Street and Queen’s Road. Rudolph died in 1967 after giving up the business about a year or two after your memories. They had a daughter, Giovanna, who had a Naturopathic establishment in Hove Park Villas from around that time. Regards, Andy

    By Andy Grant (28/07/2013)
  • Hallo Andy. Many thanks for filling in the dates. I remember the death of Rudolph. Mrs Missana had already passed on leaving Rudolph living alone. I believe he was knocked down outside his home one evening whilst taking a stroll. It was a dark country road. His daughter, Vanna as we knew her, was at that time living close by me and I paid a visit to bring condolences and inquire about details of the funeral to which my mother and I would attend.

    By Sandra Bohtlingk nee Baldwin (29/07/2013)
  • This building was almost opposite a side entrance to the Royal Pavilion Gardens and from the windows of Missana’s you could see across North Street just into the cul-de-sac leading to the entrance itself. It was a lovely sunny day and I was at the hairdressers with my mother. Mum asked if I’d like to go over to the Pavilion Gardens for a while and be in the sunshine. I was rather apprehensive at the idea of being out alone. I was not really the outgoing type. However mum thought it a good idea so she took me across the main North Street and waited on the corner to watch me go into the gardens. Now what? No-one to talk to although there were people around. So, shy me headed for the first bench and sat down quietly to observe the goings-on. On the other end of the bench was a little old lady who took it upon herself to talk to me. The plan with my mother was that I would take my time in the sunshine and then go and stand on the same corner where she dropped me and she would keep an eye out for me from the window in the hairdressers. Having been brought up understanding you must not accept sweets from strangers I was a little confused when, as the lady chatted away, she offered me an apple from a little brown paper bag. I politely said no not knowing if apples had the same rules about them as sweets. The lady obviously liked me and continued to offer me an apple. She must have felt sorry for me and finally coerced me into taking the whole bag of crab apples. Well, this was scary stuff so I thanked her, leaped off the bench and headed for the corner where mum could spot me. In no time at all my mother was assisting me back across the busy road and up the stairs to the salon. She couldn’t believe I was back so soon. I’d only been gone about 15 minutes. And it turned out apples were okay! All very confusing for a youngster as to which rules apply and where.

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (nee Baldwin) (29/07/2013)

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