Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Hair Insurgency

Les Trois Frères
The Musician, The Old AF Sarge and The Olde Vermonter
(Well, it ain't a political rant, nor are there pictures of fast jets nor clanking panzers in the snow of a Russian night. Nope, it's about haircuts. Hey, I'm the entertaining one! Though YMMV...)

While visiting the ancestral homeland over the past weekend, I was strolling around la maison de ma mère (Mom's house - I'll stop being pretentious now, maybe) enjoying the many things which remind me of home and my childhood. Those three pictures above brought back a memory of "the old days". Back when we were young. Back when long hair was just coming into vogue.


I was the oldest of the three lads and when I started high school, I thought it would be peachy-keen-neato to have long hair. Now I don't mean Metallica long -


More like early Beatles long, like this -


Though I was pushing for more the 1965 version of The Beatles, as in the movie Help!


At one point in time (there is an extant photograph) I did have a rather McCartney-esque look going on while a member of the high school ski team. (Note that I was the manager, not an actual competitor, my Alpine skiing abilities being somewhat pedestrian and my desire to do Nordic-style skiing conflicted with my well-known laziness. After all, cross-country skiing is much like running, but on skis. I only run to get away from something or while chasing a ball of some sort, with the opportunity to actually collide with someone always being desired at some point.)

But my Father had proclaimed that "no son of mine will ever look like one of those long-haired foreign bastards". Or words to that effect. (Hhmm, I'm sure that if we had been Chinese he would have referred to The Beatles and the like as "foreign devils". Gwai Lo!)

For Dad was convinced that The Beatles (and others of their ilk) were to be the death-knell of western civilization. He grudgingly allowed Mom to purchase the occasional Beatles record (usually an album per year and the occasional single) but none of that Rolling Stones nonsense - work of the devil that was!

So the McCartney look didn't last long. When spring came and Dad saw me without a hat, it was time to visit the barber. (I saw this same "stocking cap used to camouflage the fact that one's hair is too long trick" used in the Air Force some years down the road... But I digress.)

When we were really young kids we received crew cuts periodically. I did not care for the crew cut. Not then, not now. Of course, part of my problem with the crew cut is that I have a rather oddly shaped head. At least I think I do. I mentioned that once to The Missus Herself, she agreed that the shape of my noggin was somewhat "non-standard". (It's slightly elongated towards the back near the top methinks. Ya know, odd.)

So the hair could cover that sort of anomaly. Eventually I managed to convince my Dad that all of the other guys at school (except the geeks and nerds) all had longish hair. Dad observed this to be a true statement in both my sets of friends. (I had a foot in both camps, I was a jock and a nerd all at the same time. Why yes, my teen years were rather awkward. Why do you ask?)

So those pictures of my brothers and I are our "official" high school graduation photos. That's me in the middle sporting my 1963 Beatles cut (which my Father still thought scandalously long) and to either side of me my brothers exhibit much longer hair styles. What's up with that? (You may wonder.)

Well, all throughout high school I fought the long hair battles with my Dad. It wasn't an out and out full-blown war, more of an insurgency. Dad would occasionally drag me kicking and screaming to the barbershop for a haircut and then I would let it grow out again. And again. And again. Like I said, an insurgency. I would gain another quarter-inch or so of hair with each go-round, until eventually Dad just got tired of fighting that battle.

The Musician and The Olde Vermonter were allowed to be as shaggy as you please. Dad would protest on rare occasions that his two youngest sons "looked like girls".

But my triumph in the hair insurgency was short lived. I started going bald when I was 19. What a bitter pill!

No more long locks flowing in the breeze. No more shaggy dog look. (Well, I was drifting away from that look anyway. An ex-girlfriend's mother once remarked that I looked a lot like Ben Franklin. It wasn't meant to be flattering and I did not take it that way. Why, the very next day I went and got a haircut. Not really short mind you, but something that Dad really approved of.)

So on the way to that Sean Connery look (though without the "handsomeness" which is in it, just the baldness) I was. So really, what the Hell, might as well enlist.

And I did.

Haircuts every two weeks they said, you'll like it they said.

Harrumph! I had (and still have) so little hair topside that I can go a month without a haircut. Saved me a few bucks it did, back in the day.

But nowadays I'll go three months without a haircut. Or until The Missus Herself says "you look like a mad scientist, go get a haircut!" These days I go meekly, no hair left to fight for. And what there is has gone all gray.

Sigh. You win Dad.

I mean, there is a reason I'm usually wearing a hat.


Ain't much foliage left on that hilltop!
Right Anya?

22 comments:

  1. Yep, I remember being at the Kun as a bright new 1LT giving the OLD Captains grief about lack of hair. Col Swope advised me I might want to back out of that a bit as the back side of my head was becoming uncovered. He hoped the Captains would forget about the grief before the uncovering was complete. They didn't.

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    1. I can't imagine them cutting you any slack whatsoever. Live and learn.

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  2. I'm just a few years ahead of you Sarge, but in the part of rural Illinois I lived in the crew cut--at least for athletes--was the norm thru Spring, 1962. I only started out to let my hair grow so I could effect the "Ivy League" or "Princeton" haircut as it was known then in the summer of 61. I was the only guy on the football or basketball team w.o. a crew-cut, lol. (And caught hell for it, lol) But it got me a good start for college in Fall, 62, except in those days LSU had mandatory ROTC for all males and they shaved the heads of ALL freshman males during orientation week, so here I go again! Then came AFROTC "summer camp" at the end of my Jr year where my head was shaved again. LOL. Nothing like coming back to school in the fall as a Sr looking like a Freshman!

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    1. Wow, mandatory ROTC. I didn't know that but my first year of college was at Norwich University, first two years back in the day we had mandatory ROTC. The last two years you still had to wear a uniform. They don't do that now. A captain I knew in the AF went to Texas A&M, they had the mandatory ROTC as well.

      Ya know, when I think of it, mandatory ROTC (at least for the first year) is not such a bad idea. Might teach some of these kids a little discipline.

      My two oldest kids were/are SWOs, one of their complaints was that for a lot of the young sailors, their first experience of discipline was in the Navy, Not at home. Spare the rod...

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    2. Sarge/

      I should have mentioned it was mandatory for only the first two years, thereafter only people desiring a commission continued on. It made for some big-ass pass & review formations, tho. The cadet corps (Army & AF) was about 5,000 strong then IIRC.

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    3. Norwich was the same back in the day. Now I know people who graduated from there and didn't have to wear a uniform at all. Sad.

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  3. Showed up for Army Basic circa 1963 with a beard and hair collar length. That didn't last long.

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    1. I'll bet the Army barbers enjoyed divesting you of all that hair too!

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    2. Yes, and charged me 25 cents. One guy had a mound of greasy hair that took several minutes to remove leaving a scalp with numerous sores. That barber enjoyed giving the guy a good splash of witch hazel on his scalp. Ah, memories.

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  4. The only time in my adult life I was inflicted with the military que ball haircut was for jump school at Benning in 76 and after IOBC starting Ranger School in 78. Never again even while a company commander in the 2nd BDE 82nd. Though I wasn't anywhere near the exception in the early 80s.

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    1. Yup, got the shaved head look once. In Basic in '75. Now it seems to be the hairstyle of choice for bald guys. Not me. Not now. Not ever.

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  5. I was warned by the recruiter, a Master Chief Gunners Mate, to allow my hair to grow out from a crew cut before going to boot.

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    1. Sound advice. We had two kids in my basic flight who thought it would be clever to show up with their heads shaved. Yes, they paid for that (literally AND figuratively).

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  6. You look the best of the brothers. My husband has a lot less hair than you, and he started losing it when he was 16. He's 48 now.

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    1. Why thank you Ma'am. Started losing his hair at 16? Ouch!

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  7. Yeah, I'm in about the same shape as you are for hair... sigh

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  8. My dad never gave in- I've had a Navy reg haircut my entire life. Now I don't have enough hair to matter though so I keep what's left pretty short. You do look like a short-haired Poor Richard though.

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    1. Ah Tuna, you just didn't want it bad enough.

      (Hey, it's just hair.)

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  9. Had mandatory ROTC for all males at the University of Tulsa. We weren't required to have a shaved head but still had to have it high and tight. It was only temporary because due to an "animal house" first year of college, I received the inevitable letter from the US draft board stating that I had lost my student deferment and was classed as "1A" (prime draft fodder). BTW your hair might be thin but still doesn't look too bad. At least you're not doing a comb over!!!!

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    1. Hhmm, your first year of college sounds much like mine Russ.

      Ooh, comb overs are the worst, I'd never go there. We had a TSgt at Kunsan with a wicked comb over. Once day outside his hat blew off taking his comb over "over the side" (as it were) that comb over actually reached his collar. Too bad the squadron CO was standing there to see the whole thing. After the CO stopped laughing, it was "get that sh!t cut Sarge..." No more comb over.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)