Submitted by Dick Albert
I grew my first beard in 1959 when I went camping in the Sierra
mountains the summer after getting my BA from Cal. It was nice to
give up the hassle of shaving. I liked that so much I kept it
through grad school until I applied for a practice teaching job at
Oakland City College. I was told I should be clean shaven if I
expected Mrs. Grimwood to accept me. I shaved off the beard and
got the student teaching job. I decided to stay clean shaven when I
started looking for a teaching job later that year. Hired in 1962
by Chabot College, my first year I was not only clean shaven but
wore a tie and coat. The next summer I went camping again and grew
another beard. I just didn't like shaving.
Two weeks into the following fall semester, I was summoned to
Dean of Instruction John McKinley's office. It was a friendly
conversation. He spoke about how important a teacher's appearance
was, and that the public perception of the faculty could have an
effect on the upcoming election to approve funding for a college
campus. At the time we were huddled in temporary wooden classrooms
behind Pacific High School in San Leandro. I replied that I agreed
with everything he had said. He then asked me why I had grown a
beard. I said I had sensitive skin and didn't like to shave. He
then said, Dick, when I see a beard I think of Fidel
Castro. I replied, That's funny, John.
When I see a beard I think of Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ.
That pretty much ended the interview. The only time since then I
have shaved it off was at the behest of the director when my
barbershop quartet sang The Music Man, the 1976 summer
musical at Chabot College. My five year old daughter Amy wouldn't
speak to me for a week, but that's another story.
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