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Mustaches of Years Gone By

My father sent along this picture to me, of him and my mother back in their married days, which were also coincidentally his Navy days, which means that in this picture both of them are about 20 years younger than I am at this moment. Which messes with my head, it does. I have no idea what it is the two of them are doing in the picture, although if I had to guess, I’d say he’s handing his paycheck over to mom there. Which is, oddly enough, pretty much exactly what I do when I get checks. Not to mom, though. To my own wife. You know what I’m saying, here.

But what I notice most is that dad is rocking the full-on Jim Croce mustache there in the picture, which, while it doesn’t conflict with the Navy uniform is still nevertheless a reminder that facial hair fashions were different back in the day. No aspersions to dad, but these days seeing a fellow in that suit with that ‘stache would cause me to look around to see if I could also spot the cop, the cowboy, the construction worker and the Native American in the chieftain hat. It was a more innocent, less disco-y time back then, I suppose.

Also, those of you who know me will be able to look at those two faces and see which parts of my own face come from which parent: Eyes, nose and mouth from mom, but eyebrows? All dad, man. Genetics. I’m telling you.

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

50 replies on “Mustaches of Years Gone By”

What, you’ve never heard of the “Navy mustache?” They’re popular even now, and I can pick a Navy guy out of a crowd with zero effort (Marines, too, for different reasons).

And hey, was your dad stationed in San Diego? IIRC, you used to live there, right?

My dad switched between the “Jim Croce” and the “Grizzly Adams” back in the 70’s (AKA The Golden Age of Facial Hair). I love seeing those old pictures, and feel no small shame at my inability to raise such a magnificent crop of beardtastic facial hair.

I was waited on by a guy with a mustache like that just the other day, and I thought “wow, that is a great ‘stache.” You should totally grow one of those and then post the result.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but your dad could pass for Groucho Marx in this picture. At the very least, he could have played him in a made-for-TV movie.

He’s doing much better than me with the stache. I look like a crazy pervert with a mustache

That was back in the day that you could still grow a full beard when you were out to sea. Sadly, that privilege went away just when I enlisted. Sec. of the Navy (Lehman, I think?) felt it was a safety issue and could interfere with getting a good seal on your Gas mask or OBA.

On another note, I can’t quite make out the rate symbol on his sleeve. I can tell he was a First Class Petty Officer and that he had served one hitch by that time but not his rating. It kinda looks like a Hospital Corpman badge but I can’t make it out.

Had a beard about 18 years ago first time I got married. Went for the Grizzly Adams look. Shaved it off the following Easter.

Grew another shortly after I remarried. Went for the goatee this time. The permanent Mrs. Winter loves it, therefore I love it.

Don’t think I could do the Jim Croce ‘stace, though. My ‘stache sort of fades out before it makes contact with the goatee.

A few dabs of wax and five seconds of searing agony will take care of those eyebrows.

My step-dad had a cross between the Croce and the Cat Stevens ‘stache, whereas my father has sort of the thick-bristly-mess-on-the-upper-lip-to-compensate-for-the absolute-inability-to-grow-a-beard ‘stache. His cheek and chin hair is, to put it mildly, pathetic. I on the other hand, have five o’clock shadow by 3:00 p.m. and can grow a decent full beard in four days. WHICH I HATE! How’s that for one of life’s little ironies?

That is a very Navy mustache. I think it’s required of all male sailors to grow a ‘stache at some point in their career. I know I did (after I got permission to do so, of course).

Jeff S.:
Crossed Quills of a Yeoman, mayhaps? Handing over his re-enlistment bonus…

No aspersions to dad, but these days seeing a fellow in that suit with that ’stache would cause me to look around to see if I could also spot the cop, the cowboy, the construction worker and the Native American in the chieftain hat. It was a more innocent, less disco-y time back then, I suppose.

Well, those characters are who they are for a reason, you know.

(Okay, this is a bit of trivia I didn’t know: The video for “In The Navy” wasn’t just filmed on a naval vessel, the US Navy used the song in promotional advertising. That’s just … oy, my brain hurts.)

Lefty @ 12:

I on the other hand, have five o’clock shadow by 3:00 p.m. and can grow a decent full beard in four days.

At some point in the distant past, I noticed that I could scratch an itch on my hand by rubbing it on my face. It was, if I remember correctly, about 2 hours after I had shaved. I decided that it was probably not a quality that would endear me to most people otherwise tempted to snuggle up with me. Hence, the beard.

When I looked at this thought the fuzzy, pre-caffeine light of the morning, the way the shadows fall over your dad’s face made it look to me like he was wearing an eyepatch, which is impossibly romantic and dashing.

You sure he wasn’t a pirate?

Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever heard you mention your father before. I had always assumed – forgive me, Mr. Scalzi, sir – that he was deceased.

That said, the moustache is full on power. Glad your father is still with us and Mom, too.

I never noticed you having especially verdant eyebrows. I will have to measure them next time I see you.

Yeah, I knew you had a Mum and Sis. Don’t worry. I’m not keeping tabs (rearranges index card and yarn Scalzi family tree). I fully get the Private Scalzi thing. Guess HELLO Magazine hasn’t met your price yet?

I kid because I love!

Be well, ‘Stacheless!

John, I can see how your features match up with your parents as you’ve described, but what hit me most strongly as a match for you was your father’s body language and the way he’s tilting over for comic effect. Was/Is he a bit of a ham? (If so, I bet he would have loved to get his hands on Photoshop when he was that age.)

Great ‘stache! I didn’t even have one that awesome when I was Navy. Now I’m Army and I’m pretty sure I’d be pistol-whipped if I even THOUGHT about having a ‘stache that…epic.

John, you should definitely do an identical pose with Mistress Scalzi (WMBO).

Bearpaw 17: The video for “In The Navy” wasn’t just filmed on a naval vessel, the US Navy used the song in promotional advertising.

Was it? The way I heard the story, there was one high-ranking person in the Navy who wanted to use it, but he’d only really listened to the chorus and had no idea who The Village People were, and that more knowledgeable people quashed the idea before any ads could be made.

But I’m going from memory. Do you have any information about this that you could link to?

Ok, I now need to check my coffee for additives – I read your header (above the “Whatever”) as
FLAGRANT Green Plumage
not
Fragrant Green Plumage – which is what it really says.

Couple that mis-reading with the awesome mustache of Scalzi-the-Elder and MAN.
I need to make sure this is really coffee I’m drinking.

I was somewhat struck by the length of his hair in the picture. When I was in the Army from ’66 to ’70 we tended to grow our hair as long as we could get away with (and longer). These days buzz cuts seem to be the fashion.

The Army didn’t like beards, the gas mask excuse. Someone in my platoon developed some sort of facial rash and got an excuse from a doctor to not shave for a while. Boy did he like to carry that written excuse with him to show to some NCO or officer who told him “You need a shave soldier”!

George

I had a “no shaving” chit for a month in USMC boot camp. Liked it so well, when I got out, full beard for … can it have been 41 years?

The chit didn’t end any push up or squat whoopee demands, but did draw a line there.

Bearpaw @18: Evil Rob has a beard at my request* for similar reasons.

And, well, it looks good.

*Which lines up with his own inclinations. It’s really funny listening to his mom saying, “Wouldn’t you look nicer with a shave?” Kind of wistful.

Mark Terry @ #3 was close.

I checked in the site after being a way for a few days and wondered why Frank Zappa in a sailor suit was handing Katharine Ross a check.

@ 44 & 45:

Pseudofolliculitis barbae. Shaving bumps caused when men — particularly blacks — with extremely curly hair are required to close shave daily. The hair tends to corkscrew into the surrounding dermis and create a localized inflammatory nodule or “bump”, which are then prone to nicking and infection.

JJB

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