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Ringgold County's Oral Legend & Memories Project


Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, April 14, 2005

Sesquicentennial beard spirit has a hold

If the sesquicentennial celbration is going to call for growing beards, then I'm going to jump right in.

In fact, in honor of the celebration which was marked by placing a sign in the courthouse lawn this week, and has been marked with our series of sesquicentennial articles in the Mount Ayr Record-News, I began my beard over the weekend. If I look a little cruffy, that's the reason. It isn't that my razor is broken or I have come down with a skin disease that makes it so I can't shave.

I haven't had a full beard since my college days. I have some pictures of those days when I grew a beard for a lark. I did have a moustache for a time after that, but I've scraped away at my beard every morning for years and years now. I think I may have had a moustache at one point in the early days of living in Mount Ayr, but I haven't for the most of the 25 years Valle and I have lived here.

It's a little strange to skip that part of my morning routine. And it certainly is strange to have this scratchy stuff all over my face, The first week or so it the worst for beard uncomfortableness, if I remember correctly. We'll see if it gets better.

I guess you could say that this is the second step in a plan to get ready to face the world each morning. I have cut my hair short enough that I don't have to spend any time with a comb. Now I don't have to shave. I don't want to take this too much further, however. I would rather bruch my teeth than take them out of a glass of denture cleaner.

I have three brothers, and they have had facial hair in the years since I went clean-shaven. My brother Ron has worn a beard for years. It's growing better now than his crop on top. My brother Steve is now clean-shaven, but for years he had a moustache. My brother Doug has had a moustache for years as well, but recently shaved it off. He was telling how shaving his moustache had brought some consternation to his co-workers, who hardly recognized that he was the same person.

I guess joining in wiht a beard now that some of my brothers are going the other way will help keep up some family facial hair tradition, at least until the celebration this summer.

One thing is certain. It's going to be a salt and pepper beard at this point, probably with more salt than pepper. We'll have to see how that works.

I remember in college when I was trying to grow my first moustache, I used a mascara brush at one point to make my moustache darker as it was growing in. I may need a bottle of "Grecian Formula" if my beard will have any color this time around, if they still make such stuff. Nah, I'll just let it come in however it wants to come.

I don't know what beard categories, if any, are planned for the beard competition at the sesquicentennial. I'm quite sure mine won't win any of the "best of" categories. Maybe if there is a "booby prize" I'll be in the running.

One thing that the beard growing will do, however, is provide one good way to advertise for the celebrations this year. Someone is sure to ask why people are growing beards, and it will provide an opportunity to share information about the coming celebration.

I see in the news that people are being paid big bucks to advertise products on their foreheads or other parts of their bodies. Everyone who joins in the beard growing contest can be a sesquicentennial advertisement. I wonder if we can take a charitable deduction on our income taxes for offering up our chins in the name of county-wide community spirit? Maybe that would help move more people to join in the fun.

I was at the meeting Sunday afternoon at Peggy Sue's where reporting was done on the dialogue sessions held about county strengths and weaknesses. Discussion was held about looking for economic development for the area to come in tourism and recreational areas and in developing small business opportunitites instead of looking for some big industry to move into the area. They suggested looking to the businesses and industries we already have such as agriculture and see what it would take to help the owners grow the business to expand and employ more people.

That, and a comment about how we don't do a very good job of tooting our own horns about the positive opportunities for a good life we have in the area, got me to thinking about ways to market the message.

If growing a beard and sharing why it was being done could generate interest in the sesquicentennial, what other ways could be advertised and help get the message out?

Valle and I have made so many trips to Independence, MO, in the past few weeks that we are beginning to recognize some of the semis making the trip. One is a Hy-Vee truck wich has a driver that won a truck driving rodeo. If we come up with some type of theme forinviting people to come experience life in southern Iowa, maybe we could get it plastered on the trucks that area truck drivers drive. Maybe we could come up with license plate holders with a message like "Ask me about outdoor life in southern Iowa." Maybe a bumper sticker would be more appropriate.

Maybe some sort of lapel pin -- like those worn by Lions Club members -- would be a way to get a conversation going where benefits of our area could be shared with a stranger who asked about the pin. Maybe there is some other aspect of clothing that would stand out and make a statement. Maybe the Red Hat Society from the area should have another bright color other than the traditional purple and red as part of their ensembles when they travel. When asked about it, they could promote southern Iowa.

Maybe it is a big green ribbon that is on the car with a decal or wrapped around the car antennae or a green ribbon worn with outfits that stands for "Go to southern Iowa for outdoor fun." The green would fit in with the major color theme for the square in Mount Ayr.

Maybe if we become part of regional tourism efforts for traveling along Highway 2 or Highway 169, we could develop road sign decals to go on cars and businesses and on stationery and other items which would emphasize that we are part of this area.

Maybe you have a better idea.

Getting started on a beard for the sesquicentennial has gotten me thinking about other ways we can share the message of what we have in southern Iowa. I hope it doesn't stop when I shave it off later. It's too important.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, November of 2012

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