Hello Friends and Family,

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In the summer of 1967, I honored the long-standing tradition of Purdue University (where I obtained my Bachelor degree) by growing a senior beard. This was the first time in my life that I had allowed my facial hair to grow for more than a couple days. As the tradition requires, I shaved it off after our Homecoming football game.

Please allow me a brief digression. A few years earlier, when I was a freshman, I was assigned a "big brother" who lived just across the hall from me in the dorm. He was there to help his "little brothers" adjust to the dramatic changes of being away from home for the first time and attending college. He was a senior and thus had his senior beard when I first met him. He followed tradition and shaved it off after the Homecoming game. He never looked right to me after that — he had such a "baby face". Funny how much different a beard makes you look.

That summer of '67, I got a job at Bell Labs at Homdel, NJ — and thus was not living with my parents (in Fort Lauderdale, FL) as I had the previous summers. That meant that they did not get to see me with the beard. So after graduation, the first trip to visit them, I decided to regrow the beard but not tell them — just let them be surprised. In those days, just out of college, I could not afford to fly so I drove the whole way from Minnesota to Florida. When I arrived, my mom came running out of the house to greet me — and stopped abruptly, put her hands on her cheeks and cried out "Oh, David!"

Soon after that, I shaved it off again since it had served its purpose. Then I discovered that I had gotten used to not shaving — and that I did not like shaving. Before long, it grew out again and I kept the beard until about 1980. It was then that I started the MBA program at Santa Clara University and I felt that for professional reasons it might be better to be clean shaven.

Well, I must have made a good impression on my dad. Perhaps, not immediately but gradually he added some facial hair — a mustache at first and later a full beard. And he has kept it for many years.

Now jump to the very recent past — and a request from Mizuki to grow my beard again — she just wanted to see what I would look like with a beard. So I let it grow again. The first thing I noticed is that my beard is now white! Does that mean I am getting old? Hmm, perhaps not — you can see just a little bit of blond coloration. But I think it does make me look older!

When I had my haircut, my hair stylist decided it would look better if trimmed a bit. Of course, I assented to her professional opinion and let her take charge. But that meant that from now on I would be shaving part of my cheeks and most of my neck. Somehow, this beard — which should be "low maintenance" — has become a bit of a pain. Granted, I do not have to shave those areas daily — perhaps every few days — but I have to be careful to leave the long hair and only shave the short hair.

Well, on Tuesday we are traveling to Maryland to visit my folks. I wonder if the TSA will look at me extra carefully since my ID shows me clean-shaven. Probably. I told Mizuki from the beginning that I would likely not keep the beard. But at least I will keep it until my folks get a chance to see it — and have a picture taken with my dad.

But then it is coming off. Not sure if it will be in Maryland or Arizona — but it is coming off. Not only is the maintenance too burdensome, but who needs extra facial hair during the heat of the Arizona summer?

But at least you all had the chance to see it before it is history.


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com