John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Beards of Summer

Posted on August 25, 2014
Abraham Lincoln November 1863.jpg

"Abraham Lincoln November 1863" by Alexander Gardner - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

I shaved my beard the day I got home from vacation.

It wasn’t much of a beard, to be honest.

But it was a start.

Two times I tried to start the beard-making process this August, and two times I aborted the mission.

In the 1970’s, my Dad grew a beard.  He was going through a poet phase of his life and I think he thought that growing a beard would give him more street-cred with his pals at Poets Corner.

His dad didn’t have a beard.

My mother says that men who grow beards are trying to hide something.

His father didn’t have a beard, but did have a mustache, pencil-thin mustache that was the style at the time.

Thomas Dewey had a mustache and most of the pundits thought he was going to win the election of 1948.

He didn’t and that was the last major Presidential candidate to sport facial hair.

The last President to have a beard or a mustache was William Howard Taft.  Bill has enjoyed a renaissance with Washington Nationals fans.  He is most famous for being the first President to throw out the first pitch at a Major League baseball game.

Of the five Presidents who participate in the Nationals Presidential baseball diversion, three have facial hair:  Taft, Teddy Roosevelt and Abe Lincoln.  Instead of facial hair, the two other Presidents – Thomas Jefferson and George Washington - sport spiffy powdered wigs.

The first President to have significant facial hair was John Quincy Adams.  He had mutton chop sideburns.  Only Chester Arthur, who was our 21st President, used him as an inspiration.

Lincoln was the first President to actually grow a beard and after his death, for the next 50 years, almost every President grew a beard too.  One who didn’t was Andrew Johnson, and he got impeached by the House, but barely avoided conviction by the Senate.

Beards unify the left and the right.  Karl Marx, for example, had a beard.  And these days, the Duck Dynasty dudes have long beards.

Facial hair is exceedingly popular with winning baseball teams.  The Boston Red Sox won a world championship with a team of bearded Boys of Summer.

The Washington Nationals love to sport the unshaven.  Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth have impressive beards.  Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper and Denard Span all have various hair growths on their head.

Even Ian Desmond has a little patch below on his chin.

Alas, my beard is gone until my next vacation.

That’s probably for the best.

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