Sometimes things that we take for granted go by the wayside over time. They may even be banned or restricted.
I’m thinking of beards in the U.S. Navy.
Going back a bit, my two grandfathers, Hoyt Cook and Charlie Hahn, never wore facial hair. I think a couple of my dad’s brothers did off and on. I feel like most of the men that I knew didn’t grow beards.
My dad, William Hahn, did have a beard sometimes. When he went off to sea for three or six months at a time, he would come back with a beard. From the time I was about four years old until I was in high school, he served aboard a submarine tender and three different submarines. As I grew up, I just associated going to sea with beards. I think in a way it was just easier when you are bunking with a bunch of different people with limited space.
He didn’t necessarily shave them off as soon as he got back home, and later in life, after he retired, my dad occasionally let his beard grow. I never talked to him about that choice, but he was my dad with or without a beard. (Not like when my mom got new glasses and she didn’t look like my mom until I got used to them.)
In the ’90s, I used to watch the science fiction series “SeaQuest DSV”, set on a high-tech submarine. My favorite character was Chief Manilow Crocker, played by Royce D. Applegate. He was a chief; my dad retired as a chief. He wore a beard, like my dad. The backcard of his action figure (left) describes him as the “old man of the sea.” Guess what, some of the young people my dad served with used to call him TOMOTS (toe-motts), short for “The Old Man of the Sea.”
These days, the military limits beard growth. As I understand it, in most cases, they’re only allowed with a religious exemption, especially now, as they can reduce the effective of facial coverings during the coronavirus pandemic. The military website Task and Purpose, in October 2020, reported that the Navy is reconsidering its grooming standards and could possibly change the rules for beards. We’ll see.
As for me, I’ll always associate a neatly trimmed beard of a certain length with my dad and his service in the Navy.
“Bearded” is the week 45 prompt in genealogist Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. She created the challenge to encourage people to write about their family. Participants can write about their own lives (for your children, if you have them, or for future genealogists and historians) or about their ancestors. If you are reading this post and you’re interested in participating, check out the list of prompts for 2020. You can start at any time. If you need to, you can skip a week (or post late, as I have several times). You can interpret the prompts loosely, or if you’re not inspired by one of them at all, you can just write about something else.