Editor's View: A whisker by any other name

By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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Call them what you will. Soup strainers. Chin warmers. Face coats. They come in various shapes and sizes. From ZZ Top’s knee-length beards to the chin pet of old Abe Lincoln, facial hair is as American as apple pie. Goatees, mustaches and muttonchops are but a few of the lengths men will go to grow the perfect specimen to put their best face forward. Retired El Dorado Hills Community Services District chief (and newly elected board member) Wayne Lowery is easily recognizable, given his finely tended beard. Retired Folsom Police Chief Sam Spiegel and Fire Chief Dan Haverty were known to sport a mustache from time to time. Folsom’s own Santa, Bill Anderson, is practically known for his fine beard. Sutter Street Theatre’s Mike Jimena and Allen Schmeltz grow face warmers for various roles they take on in local theatrical productions. A beard, or mustache, has graced my face for 20 years. The last time I shaved off my beard was the summer of 2001. I was living in Carson City, Nev., at the time, working for the Nevada Appeal newspaper. I usually shaved during the hot summer months, reserving the beard for the much-cooler winter. Nevada, by the way, celebrates the anniversary it earned statehood with a huge party. Nevada Day used to be held on Oct. 31 (the date the state was admitted to the Union). Now, with the commercialization of the state holiday, it’s held on the nearest Saturday, or some such nonsense. Also to mark the occasion, Nevadans (and some Northern California folks) put their chin whiskers up for review during the annual beard contest held on the steps of the capitol building. One of the contest judges that year was a Nevada Supreme Court justice. On a whim, I decided to enter. I had been regrowing my beard in preparation for the cooler coming months and was confident I could claim the title of reddest beard in the state. Alas, my dreams were dashed when a man with a beard worthy of ZZ Top, but fiery red, took the title. Not to be outdone, I also entered in the “best groomed” category. To my surprise, I won. I took the title that year and have kept the plaque beside the bathroom mirror ever since. It was also the last year a razor touched my chin or upper lip, until now. Yes, I have retired the plaque and joined the ranks of the beardless for the first time in nine years. With the New Year on the way, it’s time for a fresh start. To those who manage to maintain their fine whiskers year after year, I salute you. Telegraph Managing Editor Don Chaddock can be reached at