Friday, March 9, 2012

Sepia Saturday: Not by the hair

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

Facial hair is the focus of this week’s SepiaSaturday.  I have many samples of grizzly beards (did you think I said Grizzly Bears?), but not among my Irish family who are getting the glory this month.  

My dad was always clean-shaven.  So this photo from his performance in “The Light Eternal” while a student at St. Bernard College in Alabama back in 1948-49 came as a surprise.

The Dramatic Club was composed of students from St. Bernard
and Sacred Heart College, the Benedictine women's college.
Photo scanned from The Bernardian 1949 (yearbook)
My dad is the one sporting a beard.  I wonder if he grew it for the play or if it was part of the make-up.

Fred Slade kneeling
Photo scanned from The Bernardian 1949 (yearbook)
What talent!  Notice the concentration, the look of piety.  Humphrey Bogart and Errol Flynn were probably quaking in their boots.

Daddy took a bit of a detour before college.  Following high school graduation in 1945, Daddy joined the Coast Guard in order to qualify for a GI bill to pay his way to college.  Three years later it was a very proud moment for his high school, St. Joseph’s Academy, when they announced that six graduates were going to St. Bernard’s College. Maybe there was a future cardinal or pope in the class.

Scanned from a photocopy of a brittle newspaper clipping
The Portsmouth Star, Sunday Sept. 5, 1948
Fred Slade is in the torn piece

Daddy really let his hair down and made the most of his days at St. Bernard throwing himself fully into the college life.  He was vice-president of his freshman class:
Billy York, Treasurer; Frank Logue, President;
Fred Slade, Vice-President
Daddy had some socks!
Photo scanned from The Bernardian 1949 (yearbook)
He played intramural basketball with the other boys from Portsmouth.  While he didn’t have a beard, he certainly always had plenty of arm, leg, and chest hair.

Daddy is seated 2nd from left on the front row.
Photo scanned from The Bernardian 1949 (yearbook)

He thought about seminary for awhile, but one of the Benedictines said, “Slade, you’re too worldly.”  Well, thank goodness for that bit of insight.  I’d hate for anyone to have missed out on having ME in this world!  I guess you could say I missed nonexistence by a hair’s-breadth.

Check Sepia Saturday for more hair-raising surprises.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Memories backed up by photographic records are worth a lot. I don't remember my school magazine having pictures in the early 1950s - now it's all in colour and not as effective as your sepia ones.

  2. Great post of pictures of your father. He was really involved in school activities. Great memories for him and for you to see. Grace

  3. Wendy, you are so funny! This is a delightful post. Does your Dad read your blog? If so, I bet he is cracking up too. Thank goodness that he took the career advice on not becoming a priest, but he may have had a great career in acting. That surprises me that those guys were posing with their shirts off like that. Pretty studly crew.

    Happy Sepia Saturday,

    Kathy M.

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    1. I had forgotten how much Daddy liked plays! He certainly wrote some funny ones!

      I'm sure he would have been humbled to have been featured in your blog today.

  5. It's fun seeing your father's yearbook with his picture in so many activities. My parents still had a yearbook when I was young, but it disappeared forever when I discovered it and looked at it!

  6. Wendy excellent memories of your dad's famous beard. I think it is so important and also fun to see the life of our parents before we were born.

  7. How wonderful to have the yearbook. My favourite is the fourth one, so marvellously of its time, with the added interest of your Dad's socks matching the furniture.

  8. "by a hair's breath" - that was hilarious. So glad he didn't become a priest. We would have missed this great post.

  9. Your dad does seem to stand out from the rest what with the socks and the hair on the chest.

  10. I enjoyed your witty post. What fun it is to look back through your parents old yearbooks. It is like seeing a different side of them before they had to fully embrace adulthood.

  11. Nice play on words Wendy, and we can only agree that it was fortunate he did not take up the original suggestion of a career. A great set of news clippings too.

  12. What wonderful photos of your father! And we are glad you are in this world to share your stories with us!

  13. I'm so pleased that you have these photos of your Dad - he seems to have enjoyed his college years immensely. Jo

  14. A fine tribute to spin from a whisker of a theme.

  15. Funny to look back at our predecessors, and their accomplishments/journey. My post had more to do with "Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow!!"

  16. This is a lovely post, Wendy. I'm glad you have these photos of your father in his early days, before you came along.

  17. ..and a very social man too. Interesting how fashion goes full-circle.Then,as now, beards were not in fashion.A Fine Collection of Photos.