The stock market of 2018 is soaring and diving at a pace rarely seen before in American economics. But did you know there may be another unforeseen consequence besides a fluctuating portfolio? Baldness! It happened before, and was believed to have been caused by the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906…sort of!

            There were tough times economically in Southern California following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The stock market plunged, banks were consolidated, and there was limited new construction, causing the development of Naples and other Long Beach communities to falter. Treasurers of Long Beach fraternal organizations were disappearing with the group’s money, the Pacific Electric was cutting back on the scheduled runs to Long Beach because of a decrease in ridership, and rumors were circulating that the city’s finances were in trouble.  As a result Long Beach men, worrying over the state of affairs, began to lose their hair. But Long Beach males were stoic; even though they couldn’t do much about the economy, they could do something to retain their allure…they turned to wigs!

            The December 9, 1907 Los Angeles Herald reported that at least 175 Long Beach men were now wearing wigs. The demand from Long Beach was so great that the wig-makers of Los Angeles relied upon Long Beach for a large part of their income. Now Long Beach women, when attracted by the curly, wavy or straight locks of a member of the opposite sex, began to ask the question “Is it his?”

            In December 1907, the wig wearing males gathered at a convention, of sorts, held at a Los Angeles hair factory.  Topics discussed ranged from the different styles of toupees to the causes making their wearing necessary. Most of those in attendance took comfort in the statement by one speaker who claimed to have made a lengthy study on the subject of baldness.  He told them that throughout the United States American men were becoming hairless, and he had diagrams and statistics to prove that, in the course of a few hundred years, the average man’s head would resemble an egg.  As to fashion’s mandates in the future, he believed they would not determine how much hair one had on one’s head but how high a polish it could take on.

Could wearing hats cause baldness?

      A general discussion of the causes leading to baldness ensued. Some declared it was an indication of a weakening intellect, but this was quickly discounted by the majority of those present (who happened to be losing their hair). They began to cite examples where men with extremely long and thick hair had become mentally unsound, and a number of those present said baldness was evidence of extremely great intelligence, the constant action of the brain causing  the hair to fall out. The wearing of tight fitting hats was thought to be a possible cause,  and many prayed for the time to come when man would go about hatless.

      The abnormal run of baldness in recent years was laid to the once great prosperity of the country and the mad rush for the elusive dollar.  This had worried the average man, and it had intensified during the recent depression. What more natural, it was asked, than that a worried man should scratch his head? And what was more natural than hair falling out from long and continued scratching?

Could scratching one’s head lead to baldness?

           At the conclusion of this “convention” it was decided that man’s worst enemy in regards his hairline was  scratching, and his best friend the toupee. And some expressed hope that sometime in the future bald would be beautiful, and hats no longer needed.

            Alas, the day has come when bald is beautiful and the fashionable wearing of men’s hats a thing of the past.  A recent USA Today article (2/6/2018) gave additional hope when they published a study which found that a chemical used in McDonald’s French fries grows hair follicles on mice. But one thing that hasn’t changed in over a 100 years is the stock market—it continues to ebb and flow, just like the tide—and many still scratch their heads wondering in which direction it will head next.