Halo Shampoo Assembly Hit


Halo everybody, Halo.

Halo is the shampoo that glorifies your hair,

So Halo everybody, Halo.

Halo Shampoo, Halohhhhhh!


The April 1945 headline in the Roosevelt High School paper in Cedar Rapids, Iowa announced Halo Shampoo is  Assembly Hit. In the article, the school reporter explained that Shirley Allen and Betty Peal (that was me) were ninth graders and good friends who loved to harmonize.

She wrote that we sang in the school glee club and the Olivet Presbyterian Church choir. She even mentioned our dreams of becoming as good as the famous Andrews sisters.

Shirley and I practiced harmonizing all the time and our favorite tune was the Halo Shampoo radio commercial. Naturally, the more we sang the better we got. Our music teacher heard about it and asked us to sing the jingle for the class. From there, word spread and requests for our 16-second show grew more frequent. We performed it for kids at lunch time, between classes, and after school.

Eventually, we were asked to sing the commercial at an all-school assembly for students in grades seven through twelve. That meant a junior named Don Johanos, violinist and my fantasy heartthrob, would be in the audience. He didn’t know I was alive until that day.

Shirley and I went onstage at the end of the program. With a microphone before us, my best friend and I were in top form and as perky as could be. Our performance was over so fast that the audience wanted more and gave us a standing ovation to prove it. What a surprise we were to everyone, even to ourselves, so we sang it again with even more enthusiasm than the first time. I felt like a movie star who’d gotten an academy award.

After the assembly, I overheard a student say to her friend, “One of those girls looks normal, but the one with long braids looks like a Mennonite who left her bonnet at home.” We were sort of an odd couple. Shirley was groovy and I was kinda home-spun, but it hardly mattered because singing had turned us into instant celebrities.

From then on, our classmates would see us and say, “Oh, you’re the SINGERS.”We liked the attention and stayed closer than usual so we’d be recognized immediately.

That’s when the object of my affection, Don Johanos, stopped us in the hall and said, “You girls are GOOD! What are your names?”

Finally, he knew that I existed. Shirley and I hoped to sing on the radio station WMT some day, but until that time came, we were content being 14-year-old celebrities at Roosevelt High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1945.

illustration by Betty Auchard

• • •

Excerpt from Home for the Friendless. Available in ebook or audiobook now:


Hardcover available from the author.


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