Bringing California to Orange

Published 5:35 am Saturday, February 24, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Dr. Willie Morrow, of California, invented the hair comb known as ‘The Pick’, the California Curl, and many other hair relaxers, chemical-free creams and other products as a key player in the business of black hair care.

Linda Cleveland, of Orange, worked with him for approximately six years while she was in California in the 1970s.

“I was a technician and a platform artist,” Cleveland said. “A platform artist tells the audience what they are doing as the product is demonstrated.”

Cleveland shared how Morrow went to Africa and upon returning designed The Pick.

“It was a new way to lift hair without tearing the hair,” Cleveland said. “We would show how to use it and the different effects.”

Different handles and weights could create different hairstyles.

Cleveland added the hair products Morrow invented, many of which he made in his bathtub, were game changers for African Americans.

“Before, depending on a woman’s style, you could tell if she was going to a special dinner in the evening,” Cleveland said. “With the California Curl, her hair could look good all the time.”

Through her time working with Morrow, Cleveland became a beautician. She opened her own shop when she returned to Orange.

“It was exciting to be a part of history,” Cleveland said. “It was a pleasure to be in the hair shows and to show how professional how to take care of hair.”

Cleveland said her contact with Morrow led to the opening of her shop, Linda Kay’s Beauty Salon on 4th Street in Orange.

“It opened me up to do better,” Cleveland said. “His products created less management for hair. You could use your hand or pic. The style is still worn today. It is a free look.”

Cleveland will speak more about her time working with Morrow at 11 a.m. Sunday at New Beginnings Church located at 1512 15th Street in Orange.

“I am speaking to encourage the youth,” Cleveland said. “God placed me where I needed to be. There is nothing you can’t achieve. It is not about me, it was God.”