Memories Of An 80 Year Old Why I have a trimmed beard

By Lee Meyer

People who know me are aware that I have a trimmed beard, which I have been wearing since 1987.

I thought it might be interesting to my readers to realize why I quit shaving that many years ago.

I confess that prior to 1970 I did “more than enough” drinking with many friends. My favorite drink at that time was Seagram’s and 7up. People that know me from those “drinking” days will agree that I was not a successful handler of drinking hard liquor.

In 1970 I decided that it was time I not only cut back on my drinking, but I decided to completely quit drinking any form of hard liquor, including beer.

Quitting drinking was absolutely no problem for me. The fact I had a fantastic wife, and was the father of seven children made it a great decision.

One problem a person who decides to quit drinking has; is the fact it provokes a sense of resentment among long-time friends. It is usually a good idea to make changes in friendships.

One of the problems with longtime friends is when they have a problem relating to their drinking, they often hear from their wife, “Why can’t you quit drinking like Lee did?”

You can understand how this confrontation between old “drinking” friends and their wives can be a severe problem for a relationship between myself and some longtime friends.

I believe it is necessary for most people who do what I did by quitting drinking 100 percent to establish absolutely a new set of friends.

One thing I decided to do was establish a volunteer relationship, using my old drinking self, and explaining the benefits of quitting as a decision, at two establishments near our home in DeGraff.

I talked with two establishments, asking to be a volunteer working with teen age boys. Much to my surprise I was welcomed by both places.

In fast order I was welcomed as a volunteer at Project Turnabout in Granite Falls, MN and also at the Regional Treatment Center in Willmar, MN

Spending time with teenage boys was usually very interesting, and in some cases it was easy to see that a lot of really good things were happening.

It also provided a real negative feeling when involved with some of these young men. In my most difficult situation I was involved with a young man, whose parents were also living in our area, and were friends.

Spending time with this young boy convinced me that he was going to be able to turn his life completely around.

When this young boy was released from the Regional Treatment Center, I did have positive feelings for his future.

In a week after being released, this young boy who I thought was going to be okay, decided to end his life by committing suicide using a 12 gauge shot gun.

I learned at the time this young boy decided to end his life, that people who work as consultants, employees, or just volunteers like me, have many times where their emotional commitment is really challenged.

Now getting on to explain why I wear a trimmed beard, and will for the balance of my life.

I had just returned to my home in DeGraff from a many day fishing trip in Northern Minnesota with friends. I had not shaved in a week, and had the beginning of a beard.

I had just walked into my home when the telephone rang. The person on the telephone was a counselor from Project Turnabout in Granite Falls.

The counselor said he had a situation with a young boy that I had been involved with, and asked if I could come to Granite Falls now.

I explained to the counselor I had just returned from a fishing trip, and had not shaved in a week. I also told him I looked pretty grubby.

The counselor told me not to worry, just come now if possible. I said okay and headed to Granite Falls.

I had spent some time with the young boy the counselor was talking about. This young boy was at Project Turnabout because of an underage drinking problem, and he was there at the request of his parents.

The parents of this young boy were well-to-do farmers from Southern Minnesota, close to Iowa border.

This young boy did not like me, did not like any counselor at Granite Falls, and was just always in a bad mood. I was not too excited about the situation as I was driving to Granite Falls.

When I arrived, and met with the young boy, the attitude situation completely changed for this young boy.

The fact that I showed up with a rough looking beard completely changed this young boys attitude about me.

We had a great session, talking about why he was having such a bad day, what happened that convinced his counselor to call and ask me to come to visit with him.

The fact that this young boys attitude had changed so much toward me, and the fact he said he liked seeing me with a beard was a surprise to me, a pleasant surprise.

After we had visited for a while, the reason he was upset that day came out.

The counselor asked this young boy if it would be okay with him if he let me see the letter he had received in the mail this morning.

This talk about a letter definitely was interesting to me, however when I was handed the letter, my feelings for this young boy changed to a sense of sympathy.

The letter in question was from this young boy’s mother.

In this letter his mom said how his drinking had been such an embarrassing situation for the family in their area. They were so bothered that many of their friends now may think less about their family, completely putting a real guilt complex on their son.

The real “killer” sentence in his mom’s letter was when she said, “We are not sure you should come back to our farm and embarrass us again!”

As I read this letter, my first thought was that this young boy had a problem I was sure he would handle okay. My real thought was the fact his parents, especially his mother had a problem I doubted she even realized she had.

Over the next few visits with this young boy, our relationship was great, and quite often he said he liked my beard and asked me if I was going to shave or let is grow.

My feelings have been that this young boy was going to be okay, however he will never in his life forget that letter from his mother.

Up-date information relating to my drinking. I did not drink a single drink of any kind for 20 years, then I decided I would drink only beer, settling on Michelob Golden Draft.

Since I drive every night delivering the West Central Tribune, from Willmar, MN, I do not drink any beer during the week, only having a beer on Saturday nights.

From the situation with this young boy and my beard changing our relationship, I decided to keep my beard, for the rest of my life, only keep it trimmed.

I hope my story will be interesting to many of my readers, and may inspire someone else to try to make a difference in some youngster’s life.

Lee Meyer currently lives in DeGraff, Minnesota but has ties to the Morgan area. Some of his columns are based on his memories of Morgan and time spent there when he was young. You may contact Lee by email at:


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