K L  S H I
 Y E  C L E

The Director's Hair, 2012, hair, glass, tyvek, & tape plus accompanying file folder, 4 x 8-3/4 inches


installation view ^

installation view ^


A copy of the text below was given to me by the Selma Public Library (NC), who have been both kind and vital to my "Vicks" research. The text was written to stand alongside an early replica hair (circa 1982).

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"The Director's Hair" *

From the head of Lunsford Richardson, inventor of Vicks Croup and Pneumonia Salve(1) and owner of Porter and Tate Drugstore, in Greensboro, North Carolina, this hair was eased from his head in 1898 by his wife Mary Lynn at the suggestion of his then seven-year-old second son, also named Lunsford, because it "might well be worth something some day." While little Lunsford's prediction has not yet proven true, the hair is still around and available for viewing at the Selma Public Library(2) or various other locations (including this one) as a replica(3). The title of the object (hair plus glass, tape, and label) is thought to come from a misunderstanding by young Lunsford that his father was a funeral director. Whatever the reason this title has stuck. It's origin is accepted as unverifiable and malleable- "to the liking of the (be)holder"(4).

* This hair is a replica made in compliance with the Selma Public Library's "Policy for Replication of "The Director's Hair" " (hereafter the "PRTDH") which was written in 1992 as an extension of the semi-secret "ReadaBillity" project which aimed primarily to promote the town of Selma in ways that were financially profitable. This is the same project (it's scope was wide) which called homeless individuals from far and wide to "relocate" to Selma and stay in it's Lodgary (they had a letter-flipping sign which the second, third, and fourth letters turned at seven each weeknight and five on Saturday). The Lodgary was "cancelled" after one week; even many of the homeless visitors agreed the program wouldn't be profitable and didn't fit the project goals.

(1) The product would come to be called VapoRub. Lunsford would also go on to found Vick Chemical Company (today a subsidiary of Procter and Gamble).
(2) After being discovered by store clerk Merrit Bedml in the Greensboro drugstore's storeroom, the hair was donated to the North Carolina Museum of History where it was never publically viewable. After a temporary loan to the Selma Public Library in 1905 and subsequent petition by Selma citizens to keep the hair in the "land from which is was plucked", the museum donated the hair to the library the following spring of 1906.
(3) ...which, and this is straight from the "PRTDH", is "as good in every conceivable way as the original... though licensing rights are not extended to replicas or replicas of replicas or..." (2.5).
(4) again from the "PRTDH" (7.3).