Joshua Roberson knew other people in Hattiesburg had mustaches and beards. So he hoped that maybe that common interest was
enough to make new friends and get some buddies together. So he began a Facebook page titled, “Hattiesburg Facial Hair Society.” And the page’s popularity is bordering on 90 members.
“Everywhere you go in town, you see people who have goatees, mustaches, beards and stuff like that,” Roberson said. “You look around in the larger cities and everyone’s got some form of facial hair. Basically, Hattiesburg is a big city and it has a lot to offer, where you can hang out with good friends. That’s why I put it together, just a place for everybody to meet each other and share something in common.”
For Roberson, the decision to cut his beard came with the job. Roberson works for the Ellisville Fire Department.
“I had a beard years ago, then I got into a new line of work and had to lose everything but the mustache,” he said. “I have had a mustache probably seven or eight years now. I just started growing it out last year. They had a local competition at Sully’s, so I was already growing it out. I was getting into waxing and styling. I quit trimming it and let it grow out a bit.”
For truck driver Doug Cochran, changing to a new job allowed him to grow a beard.
“I guess the reason I started growing a beard is because I am ex-military,” he said, adding that he and Roberson rode motorcycles together and have been friends for a long time. “In the military, you had to shave all the time. And plus I like the beard.”
Bradley Myers, who won a local contest for a trip to Boston because of his beard, said he comes by the facial hair honestly.
“My grandfather has a goatee and he is 85,” he said. “He’s got this long goatee and every time I go home he gets aggravated because he swears his goatee is not growing anymore.
“He swears that it’s not growing. We always pick with him and ask him why it’s growing. He’ll always say, ‘Well, have you ever seen a goat without his goatee?’
“Everybody asks him how long he’s going to grow it; for some reason, he just wants it long enough to put it in his pocket. That’s his thing. So I went home last time and put mine in my pocket and he got so mad. He had a brother who had a beard that I bet was down to his belly button when he passed away.”
The addition of facial hair doesn’t come without some initial problems, simply because of the nature of the beast, Roberson said.
“Facial hair is different from any other kind of hair,” he said. “Most of it comes out wiry. It’s taken me almost half a year that what I’ve got is almost straight. About four or five months ago, I cut about an inch of it off. It started getting way too long over on one side and I just evened everything back on it. It doesn’t always happen that way. I’ve got two buddies who have had shaving accidents, and they are starting back over.”
Cochran said the moisture that’s trapped close to the skin can cause problems.
“I’ve been growing the beard about a year,” he said. “The only problem I had was when I first started growing a full beard. My psoriasis wanted to act up, so when I get it out on the sides, it gets scaly pretty bad.”
Roberson said the initial stage of growth with a mustache also has its own unique trouble with its progression over the lips.
“The hardest part of it was whenever I trimmed it and first started growing it out, getting used to it and getting over the lip line,” he said. “It’s brutal. It takes a few months to start getting it trained where it will get up and getting used to it being there. The first time that it goes over the lip and starts poking before it has gone to the side, that’s where most people quit.”
Another obstacle facial hair growth is eating. Some foods, like soup or ice cream cones, can do damage to a mustache or beard. However, Roberson is not adversely affected by the prospects.
“I’ll eat anything,” he said. “It hasn’t changed my diet one bit. Sandwiches and especially in the morning when I get a cinnamon roll, it’s horrible. I get to where I have to eat them with a fork and a knife; I cut them up. Anything that’s not bite-sized whenever you’ve got a lot of it on your upper lip, it just pushes it right in. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ll take a bite, brush it out, take a bite, brush it out … I carry a brush in my pocket for when I finish eating.”
Cochran said he has the same feelings about food.
“There are no foods that I won’t eat because of it,” he said. “Seriously. Lately, I haven’t had anybody say anything about it. Being a truck driver, you usually don’t have to worry about it.”
Another area of discussion among bearded and mustachioed Hattiesburgers is the culture associated with facial hair. Shaving becomes more involved for people like Roberson.
“I started using a cartridge when I shaved, then I went to a straight razor,” he said. “Now I use a 1914 Shovelhead, it’s an old Ever-Ready single-edge razor. I’ve got a brush and a friend on the Coast made me an osage orange lather bowl. That’s how I shave and it’s a phenomenal shave. You get people with beards and razors and balms become standard conversation.”
The brush for combing and the one for shaving must also be special, Roberson said.
“All the brushes for my mustache have boar hair for it,” he said. “I’ve got a brush of badger that I use for shaving.”
For Roberson, using the razor and shaving mug has sentimental value.
“I’m an old soul to begin with,” he said. “I shave with 100-year-old razors. I smoke 60-year-old pipes. I like the older stuff; it’s made better back then. It was a simpler time.”