Brothers of the Brush Mom Interview
Page A6 Central Illinois- Decatur, Illinois, Wednesday, June 25, IMS e r'y XWM-rl M Ml ! K-s X iI8 ? hc? f f ; . I 1 1 I J "j " Photo by Cheryl Frank You can trim your beard, but not shave it, in Mount Pulaski, and barber Frank Wade does the honors for Scott McKinney Don't expect a close shave here By JEAN ANN GEYER For the Herald A Review MOUNT PULASKI Some men might consider a beard law a big hairy deal. But in Mount Pulaski, the new beard law is in style. The law,-effective April 1, bars men from shaving. For those who can't stop their every-morning ritual, shaving permits cost $10. Sound like nonsense? "Well, kind of," said Tom Ohler, a bearded participant and chairman of a group called Brothers of the Brush. Beard-growing is one way to have fun and promote the city's ses-quicentennial, or 150th year, to be celebrated Sept. 4-7. "Actually, the beard law is nothing new," Ohler said, explaining it was in effect for the 125th birthday celebration. Obeying the law is easy: Don't shave. But Ohler says there's more to it than just laying down the razor. At first, men who wanted to compete were to show up at the city clerk's office beardless. Clerk Marietta Romer would then verify that everyone started clean-shaven. This plan ran into some problems, though, when some full-bearded men didn't want to start from scratch, so to speak. Ohler says they are still working out a way to solve the dilemma. The contest also involves categories, such as the funniest and longest beard, Ohler said. This part of the contest can be entered on the spur of the moment, he added. The final part of the contest involves the Brothers of the Brush. The brotherhood, connected to the Mount Pulaski Anti-Shaving and Anti-Horse Thief Society, is asking contestants to buy buttons for $5 and wear them during waking hours. A member caught wide-eyed without a button will be slapped with a $1 fine. Those with a permit to shave are issued an ID to be carried at all times and made available for inspection by any member of the bearded brothers. "This is when the fun actually starts," Ohler said. "In 1961, the contest was taken pretty serious ... we had the men on their guard for either wearing their buttons or carrying around a shaving permit. "It even went so far as having some men dressing as Keystone Cops and arresting those who didn't have a button or worse for those who had shaven," he said, adding, "I suppose we'll start seeing some action this year when July or August rolls around." One participant in the fun is Tom Kennedy. Kennedy, who is retired, likes the contest because it takes him less time to shave now that he has an excuse not to. "The most amusing thing about growing a beard," Kennedy said, "is when the wind starts blowing, especially this time of the year. The wind just picks up my beard and it tickles." One bad thing, Kennedy says, is that beards get hot and itchy as the summer heats up. A first-time moustache-grower is school Superintendent Bob Mueller, who says his beard hasn't been all that itchy. But Mueller's wife, Julie, says she hates the beard contest. "It feels like porcupine quills ... but it does look nice." After the sesquicentennial, whence all that hair? Said Ohler: "Maybe we'll have a shave-off at the celebration or maybe we'll auction off all the hair, but then again who knows ...?"