Pat Wahler

Penning stories to savor.

A Promise is a Promise

Valentine Tapley, in all his hirsute glory.

Valentine Tapley, in all his hirsute glory.

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.

Oh yeah? Well, I promise not to come down from this cat condo until the political commercials all go away. They're making my ears bleed.

Oh yeah? Well, I promise not to come down from the cat condo until somebody poop-scoops political ads. They make my ears hurt.   


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  1. It’s good to know that Sir Winston is getting into the political fray.

    Thanks for making me chuckle about politics. We all need that.

  2. Pat Wahler

    September 26, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Hi Sioux! This year’s political season has me madly searching for anything that can make me smile.

  3. I bet you will be glad that it ends if only not to have to hear about it all the time. It drives me crazy listening to them harping on about everything they are going to do for us, knowing full well it is a pack of lies.
    Tapley sounds like he was quite a character, that is quite a beard!
    Lynne x

  4. Seems that Mr. Tapley was stubborn as a Missouri mule.

  5. I love your web site and beautiful picture of you. Yes, we need to try and find some humor in this crazy political process.

    • Pat Wahler

      October 3, 2016 at 7:16 am

      Welcome, Ann! This whole migration thing has been tricky, but hopefully will eventually sort itself out. Thanks for visiting!

  6. I love this story. I could never be married to someone with a beard like that, but I guess I probably would have loved his commitment to a cause.

    • Pat Wahler

      October 3, 2016 at 7:17 am

      Hi Margo! Beards (and mustaches) can be incredibly difficult to live with. Well, at least for the long suffering spouse they can.

  7. This is great! My son-in-law to be (2 weeks!) can grow a beard like no one’s business. My daughter teases that if he shaves on Monday it will be full again by Monday night. lol

    • Pat Wahler

      October 3, 2016 at 7:24 am

      Hi Lisa! Beards come with a brand new set of grooming issues, don’t they? If I was a man, I’m not sure what I’d hate more–shaving my face every day or shampooing and combing out a beard!

  8. Lynn M. Obermoeller

    October 3, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    It was fun to learn about something I never knew about… anything political and I pretty much stay away from it. 🙂 Cute little pooch!

    • Pat Wahler

      October 3, 2016 at 7:08 pm

      Hi Lynn! Yes, the whole political scene is so disheartening. Sometimes the only way to cope is through finding something to laugh about.

  9. Love the new site Pat! Still working ridiculous hours… But so happy to have found you!

    • Pat Wahler

      October 11, 2016 at 4:00 pm

      Hi Holly! Learning WordPress continues to be a struggle, but I’m (very) slowly making progress. Hope all is well in your world.

  10. Brenna Tapley Nichols

    November 10, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Thanks for the article. The Tapleys are still characters and I would imagine Uncle Valentine is spinning in his grave because of the political leanings of some of his descendants.

    • Pat Wahler

      November 10, 2016 at 12:16 pm

      Hello and welcome, Brenna!

      Are you a descendant of Mr. Tapley’s? He must have been a very fascinating man. I do wonder what many outspoken people from the past would have to say about our current political situation.

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