As a sufferer of stick straight hair, I can understand the desire for luscious curls. For me it takes wet hair, tons of product, and it still doesn't work just quite right. However much I might desire curly locks, I'm not sure I could have gone to this length to gain those curls. The above pic, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society, shows a little girl from 1938. I have no idea how she sat still for this procedure.
This pic shows our Vintage Inspiration from yesterday, Joan Blondell, enjoying her permanent. These permanents were done by sectioning hair into about 20+ sections and winding hair starting at the root, and winding it up the curler. Heat was applied and thus the curls. Staring in the 1930s, chemicals were used to seal the curl, gradually discontinuing these fun devices. I'm not sure what's worse for your hair - tons of heat or harsh chemicals . . .