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February 21, 2007

The Poor Man's Baldness Cure

The Poor Man’s Baldness Cure

By Elaine Viets

The man on the Florida beach was dressed like a tourist. He had black socks, sandals, shorts and a second-degree sunburn. His shirt was loud, even though the parrots on it couldn’t talk.

But that isn’t what caught my friend Sarah’s attention. "Look at that guy’s hair," she said. "What’s he done to his head?"

The man’s brown hair was folded over his balding dome like an origami sculpture and plastered down with hair spray. Even the ocean breeze couldn’t move that hair stack.

"He’s honoring our great state," I said.

"He’s wearing a comb-over," Sarah said.

"Exactly," I said. "The comb-over was invented in Florida."

"Somebody actually invented that?" she said.

"And patented it."

The first time I heard about this, I thought it was a joke. Nobody would invent a comb-over on purpose. Women hate them. We prefer honest baldness to that tortured and sprayed mess on a man’s head.

But the comb-over isn’t for women. It was invented by men for men.

The comb-over is the brainchild of an Orlando, Florida, father and son: Frank Jackson Smith and Donald Jackson Smith. Their U.S. Patent No. 4,022,227 is called "Method of concealing partial baldness."

It was issued (when else?) in the tasteful seventies – May 10, 1977.

The inventors tried to help their fellow men. Their patent is a work of true compassion. Here’s what it says:

"For those people who are partially bald and wish to cover the bald area hair transplants, hair weaving and hairpieces are the most commonly used solutions. The cost of covering bald areas by one of these methods can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on a person’s choice and financial means. Some of these commonly used bald area coverings require periodic care, which generally cost money.

"Obviously a partially bald person without the financial means can not afford the luxury of such hair coverings. This person, therefore, has few options; he can attempt to use his own hair to cover the bald area, but generally most people do not have the ability to properly plan a hair style that will look good, and most attempts result in brushing the hair in one direction over the bald area, or he can allow his baldness to show."

Many men cannot bear the thought of an unclad scalp. Frank Smith was one of them. Especially when his son, Donald, began "poking at him some," Donald told the Orlando Sentinel.

They got the idea for the patented comb-over "over a jug of homemade wine," which explains a lot.

Here, in government legalese, and without the aid of stimulants, is the official explanation from the patent:

"The method here disclosed uses the remaining hair around the bald area on a person’s head. The hair in this area must be extra long to cover the bald area. Generally the hair should be about 3 to 4 inches long."

The Smiths used drawings to illustrate a proper comb-over.

"To use the method of this invention, the hair around the bald area is divided into equal portions . . . the hair on a person’s head is folded over bald area, beginning with the hair from the back of the head, and then from first one side and then the other."

After the hair from the back of the head is folded over, "an object" is placed "over the hair and hair from a first of the sides is brushed over the object."

"Said object is a person’s hand," the patent said.

Spray. Fold in the hair from the second side, spray again and style.

There you have it – the patented comb-over.

Donald Smith said his dad planned to create "a spray-on hair tonic for men that would hold it all in place." Alas, he never succeeded. Frank’s hair and money continued to recede until he died.

But the Smiths created one of the biggest mysteries in hair styling:

The comb-over was invented to help the poor man. But it’s favored by the filthy rich Donald Trump.

Why would The Donald wear a comb-over, when he can afford better?

Is he too cheap to buy hair transplants or a good rug?

Or is he returning to his . . . roots?


Want to see the patented comb-over for yourself? Carol Giles-Straight, Patent and Trademark

Depository Librarian at the St. Louis Public Library, confirmed it’s no joke. She says you can read the patent filing and check out the comb-over illustrations at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Website at www.uspto.gov or on Google Patents at www.google.com/patents


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You know, I thought the insomnia was bad.

But now I am searching the USPTO for comb-over illustrations -- and not finding them.

I fully expect the IQ police to show up at any moment and demand a couple of dozen points back.

Hey! I've seen this "design". Who do they think they're kidding? Like a woman will think..."Look at the interesting way that man's hair is growing." HA!

But my favorite still is that can of black "paint" that men are supposed to spray on their bald spot to "cover it up" I think it was a Ron Popel product. I'm laughing just remembering the ad.

Hey Kathy Sweeney - what are the two of us doing up at this hour looking at comb overs? This does not bode well for our personal lives! HA HA

Hey Cyndi - I've got menopausal insomnia and a sick son.

And at least you found the pictures. I struck out. Which is a whole 'nother story.

What's your scoop?

Great blog Elaine - should've said that four hours ago.

Perhaps that is why Donald Trump plans to lose in Wrestlemania on April Fool's Day, he wants to publicly end his days with a comb over!

Thanks Elaine for finding more important inventions that originated in Florida. Just when I think we have ended our days as Banana Rebublic, Anna Nicole Smith passes away and we have a trial...

Okay, I went to that site and searched for "comb over" and it popped up with a whole bunch of rules about toilet-making. Are we talking about comb overs, or swirlies now? Because I'm confused.

I repeat my thoughts from the other day, with a caveat: I feel sorry for guys who lose their hair, but at some point, dignified acceptance is a good thing. I accept that I'll never be tall. Or Blond Bond's girlfriend. Sad, but true.

But that part about coming up with the idea over a jug of homemade wine? That made total sense.

Funny stuff, Elaine. Good way to start off the first day of Lent.

I remember my first comb over. I was a teenager lifeguarding at a big community pool during adult swim. This man went breast stroking by, with a really long snake of hair undulating in the water behind him. He was really graceful, until he got out and scrambled to get the hair rearranged, not an easy task.

Thanks for the memory, fun blog.

Hey, do I blog about the great issues of the day, or what?
The Google patent site is easier to use than the government one. Try putting in the patent number - 4,022,227 to locate it easier.

One of the U of I's basketball coaches, Lou Henson, 'invented' his own version of the combover. We called it the "Lou-do". You could tell the kind of day he was having by the number of swirls. Coached some great teams too! As far as The Donald, I'd be willing to bet he does it just to annoy people :o) and wonders why he didn't think of it first.

Wow -- what a story. And interesting, too. The only comb-overs I've seen are the super-poor-man's version in which the hair is combed over from one side only. The 3-way version actually begs the question, in my mind, namely: why don't these guys just go for the "eccentric Englishman" look and wear it balding on top and hanging down long on the sides? You know, sort of a la Francis Crick.

Just back from the second part of my 1 out of 2 root canals (figured I might as well have decent teeth while waiting for Armageddon) and found this blog absolutely brightened my day. Thanks a lot, Elaine.

Once again I ask - who says you never learn anything on The Lipstick Chronicles?

You know, the knowledge that I will never have to personally choose between a comb-over, a rug and black shoe polish for my head makes my own perimenopausal insomnia (thank you, Kathy, for giving it a name) seem like a walk in the park.

I think it makes a big difference that we women do a lot of stupid hair experiments in our teens, when people will laugh at us. We get a better idea of how we look to the rest of the world.
Guys, at least guys old enough to use comb-overs, did not dye their hair green at age 14 or cut their bangs to nubs. Once you get into your 50s and 60s, people still laugh, but behind your back.

I just think it's really nice that bald is cool now, so guys don't actually have to choose those things! Now, if I were one of the rare women with pattern baldness, it would be a whole 'nother story.

My son wants to die his hair, but the priests would not look fondly upon that. He wouldn't put the eggs in when I tried to do it for him, even after I did it to myself.

Kerry, I'm not so sure that bald is "in." Have you seen Britney?

THIS one made me laugh out loud!

Bald and Proud

Hunky bald men:

Sean Connery; Vin Diesel; Ed Harris

Just sayin' . . .

I have never understood how Trump can go through life and not know that everyone on this planet is laughing at him!! Does the whole lot of money thing make him not care? Was he raised with such confidence that he can be a laughing stock and thumb his nose at everyone? I wish I had a little of what he has then,because I dont even tuck in my shirt for fear of my true figure showing!!!
Maybe he could hold a press conference and let us all know how he does it! BTW thanks for the trivia about the patent on comb overs. I would never have guessed. Do all the men who do them have to pay the patent holders money everytime they get up in the morning and create that wonderful style? Just some thoughts.Oh Well better then thinking about Britney and Anna. Stay safe all, SusanCo

Harley I wish I had your hair.
And Kerry,unfortunatly,I'm one of those women with pattern baldness. It sux! Wigs are hot, hairpieces are expensive to maintain. Good think I look good in hats. :)

I'm putting together a story on comb-overs for a national tv show and am looking for a few good examples ... Are there any women out there who are desperate to cure their "comb-over men"? If so, please email your story to me.

Many people get confused...

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