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Senior Correspondent

I don’t remember the luxury or the availability of a pedicure and manicure in my younger years and well into my fifth decade. Somewhere along the way during the last decade or so, I became familiar with the amazing and relaxing procedure afforded at nail salons that seem to be popping up on every block.

Was I totally unaware or have the services become more prominent?  I am not sure, but I know it is something I enjoy about once a month, especially in the summer. The massaging chair, the extra care to make sure nails are ready for viewing, and other amenities, including a myriad of nail colors, music, TV, and drinks. All this make it very appealing.

This new world became part of my routine after my daughter, daughter-in-law, sisters and granddaughters exposed me to this wonderful experience that I had no idea existed. I must have been walking around with blinders on and not realizing what the potential could be.

I look forward to this luxurious time when I have no responsibilities, no cares, and sink into the magical chair that massages up and down the spine — this is an added bonus that I had no idea existed at these nail salons.

Most of them are about the same — foot soaking baths, hot wax on the legs, several types of lotions and potions.  All of this is completed in the same order by very polite nail technicians who often engage in personal conversations and try to get you to have more services.  I rarely opt for a manicure but I do love the pedicure. It is hard to say no to some of the technicians who try so hard to please.

After I became totally sold on my monthly visits, I came across an article that gave a history of the progression of the popularity and growth of nail spas.

About 40 years ago, the actress Tippi Hedren of “The Birds” movie fame, helped to start this trend.   A BBC reporter told the story of how Tippi helped Vietnamese refugees in California find a skill and become trained as nail technicians.

In 2015, 51 percent of those in the nail business in the United States were of Vietnamese descent and some were directly related to that first group of women inspired by Tippi, according to the BBC website.

That certainly sheds a new light on the culture of the nail salon and gives me a good feeling to think that refugees from Vietnam were given a chance to earn a living and start a business.

That military conflict defined the lives of many of us who attended college in the 1960s. Waiting to hear who was drafted or if someone got a high lottery number were factors hanging over our heads.  I can still see the horrible footage as so many of them tried to escape as the U.S. and other countries pulled out.

Thank you Tippi, not only for enhancing a  service that so many of us enjoy but also for affecting the lives of those who needed it!

I will continue to enjoy this service and have learned how to navigate the salon world. Now that I am retired I can pick an afternoon in the early part of the week that is usually slow at the nail salons and enjoy the time almost totally by myself with little conversation. If you haven’t tried it, give it a whirl.  You won’t be disappointed.

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