Sunday, March 30, 2008

Beautify America—Get A Haircut

This photo was taken just before I went and got a haircut. I had to get a haircut in order to be able to live and work at my Aunt Martha and Uncle Finley K. Clarke's Katahdin Lodge, of Patten, Maine. The photo was taken in the backyard of the home where I grew up, on Dunmanway, in Dundalk, Maryland, during the first few days of January 1969. I had been in Maine from mid November 1968, until a few days before Christmas. Then I came home to my parents' house for the Christmas and New Years holiday.

When I was in Maine, during November and December of '68, I kept my, slightly, long hair combed back behind my ears, or tucked up under my hat, so that it was not too obviously so long. It had to be hidden, as best I could, until I made the decision on whether to live and work at the Lodge, or go back to living near Baltimore, where I was free to grow my hair longer. I hadn't quite yet been fully committed to going back up to the Lodge, until the January day I got that haircut. There was no way I could live up there with such awfully long hair--as you see it is in the photo.

Yeah? Well it was too awfully long for Northern Maine at the time.

Not only would my Uncle Finley and Aunt Martha never allow it, there was no chance for me to date any girls up there, while I was wearing my hair long. And, sooner or later, some clean cut country boy was gonna' start a fight with me.

Up there, back then, if one person from in or around the Town of Patten started a fight with someone who was "from the outside", then the whole town backed up their local troublemaker. Right or wrong, they stuck together.

I never had any problem understanding and accepting that. It was a difficult natural environment to live in, work in, and raise a family in. The families up there relied on each other for their mutual survival and well being. In that type of a social situation, absolute interfamily and interpersonal cohesion, surrounded by a thick wall of potential, instant exclusion of any outsiders, is a must for the best interests of the sparsely populated community.

Until about six months after my US Army discharge, in November 1971, that was the longest my hair had ever been. In 1972, I eventually grew my hair down to my shoulders. I would have grown it down to my shoulders before I went into the Army, but I had chosen to live and work hard at Katahdin Lodge, where longhaired males were not allowed. In 1968-69, I had grown to love being up in the woods, and spending time with the finest kind of northern Maine folks, a whole lot better than having long hair.

In 1969, in the southern Aroostook County/northern Penobscot County area of the Great North Woods of Maine, longhaired men were not very much welcomed at all. I only saw three longhaired men at Katahdin Lodge one time. They were there for less than an hour, while doing emergency repairs on their car, with the Lodge's tools. My Aunt Martha, Uncle Finley, and the native Mainers who worked for them at the Lodge did not like those longhairs being there at all. One time, while driving a Katahdin Lodge truck, I picked up a friendly, happy longhaired guy who was hitchhiking from Nova Scotia down past Houlton, Maine. During most of 1969, I traveled all over that Aroostook-Penobscot area of Northern Maine. Those four were the only longhaired men I saw during that entire year I lived up in Maine.

I picked that longhaired hitchhiker up on the northerly most stretch of Interstate 95; then dropped him off, when I turned off, at the I-95 Smyrna exit. There was no way I would ever mention anything to anyone at Katahdin Lodge about helping that fellow hitchhiker, unless I left out the fact that he had long hair. Picking up safe looking hitchhikers, while driving a Katahdin lodge vehicle, was A.O.K., but not longhaired male ones. Uncle Fin and Aunt Marty preferred that I left any hitchhiking longhairs to rot on the side of the road. In the summer of '68, after a plane ride from Baltimore to Bangor, I had hitchhiked from Bangor up to Katahdin Lodge. My hitchhiking, was also A.O.K.with Fin and Marty. But my aunt and uncle'd be p.o.'d if they ever knew that I had gotten into a vehicle with any longhairs.

My best hitchhiked ride, from the Bangor Airport to the Lodge, had been with a slightly longhaired, traveling male computer technician. He was driving a brand new, baby blue, Pontiac GTO convertible. He advised me to get into computer training. He said that he was one of the few computer techs in the nation, and he was well paid to travel around the United States fixing computers. Not only that, he added with a great big grin on his face, when he arrived at a town where his next job was, the first thing he did was to go to the office where the broken computer was located, and introduce himself there. And in there was always a whole office full of women, a few of whom were always single and ready to mingle. He never had any problems finding a girl to go out on a date with him in any new town his job took him to. I liked the sound of that fringe benefit. And the good money and plenty of paid traveling expenses aspects too, of course. But, like I told him, computer work is an indoor job, and I have never been interested in only working indoors.

I did a lot of hitchhiking in my younger days. And Maine was the best place to hitchhike that I ever knew of. Jeeze I'd love to be able stick my thumb out for one more, safe, wonderful, travelin' time. Unfortunately, it ain't safe no mo'.

In 1969, longhaired men were freely roaming all over various places in America.

But not: in a lot of small towns; or most of the southern states; the wide open country of large western states; midwest farm communities; many mid-Atlantic communities; or in many parts of northeastern states either.

That didn't leave much but a lot of California and some of New York City. Look at the average length of men's hair in the August 1969 Woodstock Music Festival movie. Not many of those Hippie type music fans had really long hair. In 1969, there were longhaired guys living in many American communities. But roaming freely in their hometowns was not something they could always do without risk of some kind of a potentially serious problem from somebody who didn't like longhaired men.

During the late 1960s, there were infamous billboards put up with "Beautify America, get a haircut" plastered all over them.

21st Century Sensibilities

Now, in the 21st Century, whenever I am in a public place, and there are some nice, healthy, happy, friendly groups of various peoples enjoying each other's company, I often receive a fleeting flashback to the 1960s times; when people put far too much emphasis on how your hair, clothing, and jewelry may have differed from theirs.

Today, I absolutely love seeing all of our 21st Century social mixes of longhaired, no haired, purple haired, spike haired, green and orange polka dotted haired, and every kind of different cut haired friends and acquaintances getting along so well together.

I sure am glad that people today can pretty well do what they want with their hair and be accepted by, and/or hired to work for, other individuals or groups of individuals who choose totally different hair styles.

I feel mighty fine about seeing any tattooed or no tattooed, body piercing-ed or not piercing-ed folks comfortably walking or sitting down relaxing together in a public place, like Baltimore's Inner Harbor or Fells Point.

I truly appreciate seeing any employees of the businesses in those public places freely expressing themselves, and/or just being their natural selves, by the way they wear their hair, dress their own personal bodies, pierce their own personal bodies, etc., because enjoying your own God given personal freedoms ROCKS!!

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