The political season will soon (thankfully) come to an end. Some will be thrilled by the result, and others will be appalled, but I wonder if anyone will have the kind of reaction chosen by Valentine Tapley from Pike County, Missouri.
Mr. Tapley had a passion for the Democrat party. If Republican Abe Lincoln became president, Tapley vowed he would never shave his beard again.
Not one to argue his way out of a promise, when Lincoln won in November, 1860, Tapley threw away his razor for good. And as his beard grew, so did his pride…and his fame.
Tapley cared for his whiskers like a mother would coddle a baby, wrapping them in silk and winding the length of his beard around his body or draping his whiskers around his shoulders so they wouldn’t drag untidily through the dust. For obvious reasons, Tapley never worked around a fire, but there is no record of how he kept food and drink from dirtying them. I have a strong suspicion that Tapley’s long-suffering wife, Caroline, must have often said things like, “Valentine, you’ve got potatoes stuck in your beard again.”
Hey, I’m married to someone who grows facial hair. I know how it works.
Valentine Tapley died in 1910 at the age of eighty. His beard measured over twelve feet long and his pride in it prompted him to set up extra security to keep guard over his grave. He didn’t want any robbers trying to dig up his coffin, cut off those infamous whiskers, and put them on display with a traveling sideshow.
Tapley was a man of integrity. He stuck to his promise, no matter how hairy it got.