October 2008 Issue
As he did half a century ago, Warren Bailey donned his game face and awaited the judges’ decision. And, borrowing a page from the past, history did indeed repeat itself: The Delaware resident took first place in the Vandyke beard-growing competition that was part of the city’s summer bicentennial celebration.
“It was easier growing it the first time around,” the 81-year-old says with a laugh. “I guess it was because I was younger then.”
Bailey’s foray into beard-growing took place in 1958 at age 30, when he sported one for the city’s 150th birthday fete.
“It was a great contest for the community,” he says, “and I haven’t had a beard since. So when the idea for this year’s celebration came up, I thought, ‘Well, heck. Let’s do it again.’”
Bailey was committed to recap-turing his award-winning look. He pretty much shelved his razor on February 10 in preparation for the July 5 contest. He’d take it out once in a while to shave the side of his face, but leave his burgeoning moustache and beard untouched. Bailey chose the Vandyke style because it’s low maintenance.
“All you need to keep it groomed is a bit of moustache wax,” Bailey says. “That keeps the whiskers away from your mouth. The style is short enough that it doesn’t curl up on the ends.”
After accepting his blue ribbon this year, Bailey didn’t hesitate to ditch his old new look.
“I didn’t particularly like it,” he says. “It’s a nuisance when you’re eating. Especially since July is sweet corn time. Try eating corn on the cob with a beard and moustache. It doesn’t work very well –– it’s extremely messy.”
Although Mary Lea Bailey, his wife of 58 years, admits her spouse looked dapper, she, too, is glad the beard is history.
“It’s better kissing him when he doesn’t have it,” she says with a smile.