Friday, April 19, 2019

Daisy Lee Shields, the beautician

Daisy Lee Shields, my granny
The 52 Ancestors theme this week is “out of place.” When I first saw the theme, I remember thinking what in the world am I going to write for this. I mulled it over a couple of weeks but nothing came to mind. By the time I had to get serious and start writing, I had traveled to Georgia to visit my family and found myself “out of place,” without the usual resources nearby. Instead of panicking, I took advantage of the situation and decided to see what Mama had of interest. Lying in bed in what I call my room, I remembered Granny’s cash register tucked away in the closet. Mama once told that Granny used the cash register in her beauty shop for years. At that point, I decided to write about my Granny, Daisy Lee Shields, the beautician. Mama has shared a lot about Granny with me but now it was time to ask more questions.

Granny was a self-employed beautician her entire working career, which spanned 20 to 25 years. She cut hair, did perms, colors, and hair sets—nothing fancy. Her shop usually had four or five dryer chairs and her first shop had a perm machine that looked like it came from outer space. Mama remembers it well, describing it as looking like a lamp on a pole that had cords hanging from what would be the lamp part. At the bottom of the cords were tubes that Granny wrapped the hair around. Once heated up, the tubes curled the hair. The perm machine had wheels and Mama said if you moved around, the perm machine had to travel with you. Of course, I had to Google that and found the image below on Wikimedia.
Icall 1934 Permanent-Waving Machine,

I also found a YouTube video that I thought was interesting of a woman describing getting a perm as a child with the perm machine. You can view the video here:

Granny married my Granddaddy, Samuel Jackson Holland, about June 1931. She wasn’t working in 1940 when the census was taken but shortly after the enumerator made his rounds to their rented home on Fagan Street in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Granny went to beauty school. She opened her first beauty shop about 1941, around the time she and Granddaddy divorced. After the divorce, Granny moved to an apartment a couple of blocks from the Fagan Street house. Her beauty shop was also nearby. Because Granny had been involved with another man, the judge gave custody of Mama to Granddaddy. Mama remembers she had to pass Granny’s beauty shop when she walked to school as an eight-year-old girl. She’d stop by the shop so Granny could comb her curly hair the way she liked it. Granny bought a newly refurbished cash register to use in her shop. Mama remembers seeing the cash register and now has possession of it. Mama also remembers there being a large plant near the shop that made artillery shells. Granny kept the shop open until 10 or 11 p.m. so the women working the late shift could stop by and get their hair done. She made good money and probably kept the cash register ringing.

In the early 1950’s, Granny opened a beauty shop in Ringgold, Georgia. She named it Bonita’s Beauty Den, after her only grandchild at the time. Granny later opened a beauty shop in Dalton, Georgia and she and her husband Hoyt Vest lived in the back. During the summers, Granny always did our hair—cut and pin curls. My sister Bonita remembers that Granny cut our hair every September for back to school, or as she put it, Granny wacked it up lol. The pictures below were probably taken at the Dalton shop.

Granny giving an unknown woman a perm

Granny preparing a perm solution

Jennifer getting a perm; Bonita in the background
Hoyt helping Granny was my hair

Granny’s cash register was made by the National Cash Register company. It has the brand stamp “National” on the back and a serial/model number plate on the front. The serial number is S600448, with the “S” signifying that Granny purchased it newly refurbished. The model is 711. We believe the cash register is made of brushed metal and has a wood base. It’s very heavy, weighing about 60 to 70 pounds. There is a marble plate above the cash drawer, which still opens. The keys no longer work—the “No Sale” key is stuck. Mama tells me that my son Chris found it in her closet years ago and played with it until the key got stuck and the drawer no longer opened. That was the first I'd heard of that! My husband was able to open the drawer but unable to unstick the key. There is a cover on the top that when lifted, exposes several customer counters. A “Used Register Guarantee” card is glued on the bottom of the cash drawer. Unfortunately, it’s undated. My sister Bonita and her husband owned the Stairway to Heaven Antique Mall in Newnan, Georgia from September 4, 2009 until September 30, 2013 and displayed the cash register in the store. She didn’t use it—just displayed it on the counter for show. There was a cash drawer built into the store counter directly underneath where she placed the register so it gave the illusion that she was opening its drawer when she made a sale. When they sold the shop, she brought the cash register back to Mama. It’s been in our family for at least 79 years so I would classify it as a family heirloom.

Back of cash register

Cash register serial number and model

Side view with drawer and cover open


Keys and marble plate over cash drawer

Front view. You can see the No Sale key is stuck down.

No sale and placement of serial/model numbers
Used Register Guarantee card glued to bottom of cash drawer


  1. Chattanooga, Tennessee, City Directory, 1941, 1942.
  2. Dates of Manufacture for Factory Rebuilt Equipment, Cash Register Collectors Club;
  3. Perm (hairstyle);
  4. Perm Machine, Indiana State Museum, October 2, 2010;
  5. Personal memories of Fay Lankford and Bonita Streetman.
  6. U.S. Federal Census, Chattanooga City, 1st Civil District, Hamilton County, Tennessee, 1940.


  1. Love the old cash register! That is definitely an heirloom, especially since it has so many memories for your family. By the way, I remember a scene from "The Waltons" when Olivia got her hair permed by Corssue Godsey, using that perm machine.

    1. I can't imagine getting a perm with that machine. Crazy! Thanks for reading.