Monday, June 28, 2010


Tsar Nicholas Romanov 1898

On this hot a muggy June day what am I going to write about?  Beards.  Yes, beards.  I'll let the subject of my infestation of Japanese Beetles go for another day.

From the first time I saw Jon Nagy with his Van Dyke type beard, I wanted one. For those of you old enough to remember, Jon Nagy was a television personality of the early Fifties who taught "Anyone can draw."  At that time in my young life (10 years old) I fancied that I wanted to be an artist.  And the man who was going to teach me to be an artist was Jon Nagy.  I looked up to that man.  I thought he was a cool as could be.  Not for me Howdy Doody and Buster Bob and the stupid, silly Soupy Sales; I wanted to be cool like Jon Nagy.  Unfortunately it wasn't I was in high school taking numerous art classes that I discovered I had absolutely no artistic talent.  But that fact didn't dissuade me from wanting a full beard.

There were two other men whose beards I admired greatly.  Coincidentally they were both first cousins.  Their mothers were both Danish princesses.  Tsar Nicholas Romanov of Russia was the one man who had a fantastic beard.  His cousin, King George V of England had an equally outstanding beard.  I wanted to look like them.  However, at ten years old, I was some years away from having enough testosterone to grow such a manly, impressive beard.

King George V 1895

After I graduated from high school I joined the Army.  Of course in the Army of that day (the early Sixties) a beard was strictly verboten.  Only hippies and "artistic types" (read homosexuals and perverts) had beards in those days.

After I left the Army I scrambled around for a job.  Of course one didn't interview for a job in those days with a beard.  Again, the same rules applied.  If you had a beard you were either a revolutionary or "artistic" (which was dangerous because "artistic" could cover so many threatening fields.)  Clean shaven, I got a job at Girard Bank in Philadelphia in March of 1965.

Me 1969

Some years pass and the urge to have a beard still was in my subconscious.  I have an angular face with a prominent nose and a beard would set me off from the rest of the rabble.  Plus, I wanted to look as attractive as I could be for my weekend bar hopping excursions looking for strangers in the night.

Me 1972

Thus is came to pass one day I started to grow a beard.  About the third day in my beard growth, some of my older, more conservative co-workers started to express alarm.  They asked "Why are you growing a beard?"  They felt threatened.  Was this a revolutionary in their midst?  Another co-worker said "You are already very handsome, why would you want to grow a beard?"  My answer was always the same, "Because I've always wanted a beard."

In about two weeks time I had a full, dark brown beard and it was as fabulous as I thought it would be.  I was a happy guy.  Almost immediately I noticed that I would attract attention when I walked into my local watering hole on the weekend.  Viola!  I now felt complete.  This was in the year 1972.

Me November 9, 1976

For most of the past almost 40 years I have had a full beard.  Back about 17 years ago my beard started to turn white.  My hair stayed dark brown (less of it) but the beard on my chin was full white.  At various times I left it white and other times I colored it with Just For Men.  I only colored my beard to stop Bill (my life partner) from nagging me about my white beard.  He said "You look much younger with a dark beard."  Of course he was right.  But what a pain it was to color it every five days, not to mention the expense.  Another problem was the splatters of the coloring got on my bathroom sink top and was hard to remove.  Was this worth it?
Me November 1980 (celebrating Phillies winning World Series)

Back in 1995 I shaved my beard.  I didn't like what I saw under the beard.  My face had changed.  Gravity had worked it's magic.  I had this "thing" around my mouth that I didn't have before.  I didn't like my look nor did anyone else.  I grew my beard back.

From that day until this weekend I had not shaved my beard.  This weekend I shaved it on the "advice" of a friend who said I looked "old" with a white beard.  Of course he was right but then again, I am old.  I am 68 years old.  I will be 68 years old this November.  I am an old fart.  What do you want?

Me and my First Financial Bank employee photo 2001 - I'm coloring my beard now

Well, talk about not liking what I saw when I shaved my beard.  This time I discovered I had jowls.  Yes , jowls.  Definitely not a pretty sight.  In fact, my jowls have taken away my boyish look that I had retained for lo these many years.  I now have that Old Prospector Look.  Maybe I don't look like Gabby Hayes but I definitely cold pass for Slim Pickens brother.

Me this morning sans beard - I don't like it

So here is what I'm going to do.  I'm growing the beard back.  I will color it sometimes and sometimes I won't.  Tsar Nicholas didn't make it to a grand old age (we all know THAT story) but George V did.  Looking at Old George in his later years, he doesn't look all that bad.  I would rather look like George V in his twilight years than Wilford Brimely.

Wilford Brimley and his look alike cat


  1. I have become so familiar with your face I like it with or without. Did I ever send you a photo of Glenn and I with short beards?

  2. Stick with the beard, Ron. It's you.
    Speaking of beards, I heard the best line about them in the Dos Equis ad "The World's Most Interesting Man".

    "His organ donor card includes his beard".

    Now that is a beard to be proud of.

  3. I never realised just how much you look like Tsar Nicholas - uncanny.

    There are 3 reasons I have a beard.

    The first is, quite simply, I hate shaving. All I ever get is a painful rash and sharp stubble shortly afterwards. Really, why bother?

    Secondly - and this is only really a guess at what my subconscious is up to - I suspect having gone through my entire childhood putting up with "But Kim's a girl's name!!!" it became more important to have an immediate visual indication of my sex.

    And finally, my wife loves beards. We've been together for nearly 20 years and she has never seen my chin. I seriously suspect if I shaved it off I'd be sleeping on the counch until it grew back

  4. Mike,

    You make me smile. You are sweet. I figured by now you would be pretty fed up with seeing my face. :)

    No, I haven't seen your pictures of you and Glenn without your facial hair. I would like to see them.

    And I am growing the beard back. I went to work today with the new look. I got a lot of "you look different." I would say. Youth is fleeting. But character is forever.


  5. Liberty,

    Thanks for the advice. I have decided to stick with my beard. No more shaving off the beard. I will die with this beard. I always wanted a beard since I was 12 and now I know why. Like you said, "It's you." :)


  6. Kim,

    When I first saw the title of your blog, "The Bearded One", I immediately thought "Darn! That is the title I should have had on my blog." But, you beat me to it.

    Having said that, you are one of those men who would be incomplete without a beard. Some men cannot wear a beard (re Johnny Depp) no matter how hard they try (re Brad Pitt.) But you? You and your beard are one. By the way, my partner says to grow the beard back too. He isn't too thrilled with this "stranger" in his house. I'm not either. I'm scaring myself every morning I look in the mirror.



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