Ambrose’s Claim to Fame!

I posted last week about Levi P. Morton, and frankly, no one cared.

But there was one question I feel I must address!

Levi had some serious sideburns, and one of my faithful readers queried, “So should we credit him as a stylista for the mutton chop look?”

And though Levi’s were epic, he was not the first, and as to nomenclature, the term mutton chops goes way back, so far back that most folks aren’t sure.

Men have had facial hair since the beginning of time and until about 4,000 BC, most guys just went with the bearded look.

Most historians suppose shaving started in the Stone Age since there are cave paintings showing Neanderthals using seashells and make-shift tweezers to remove unwanted hair.

Some say flint blades found in archaeological digs date back to 30,000 BC, and flint would provide an edge sharp enough to shave, but alas, would dull rapidly.

Egyptians shaved for religious reasons at first, but are credited with introducing shaving as a daily routine for hygienic reasons.

They also invented make-UP and high heels.

In Egyptian culture, facial hair was indicative of neglect in the hygiene area, and the really rich kept a servant whose whole job was to shave the males of the family!

Alexander the Great some say, brought shaving to Europe.  Some also say, that Al didn’t need to shave, and insisted everyone else do so to keep him from looking like a teenager when he was the king and all.  Some dispute this as there is a mosaic in Pompeii supposedly depicting Alexander with side burns.

But, who knows? I wasn’t there, so I can’t unequivocally say yea or nay.

Another theory is that in battle, beards were easily grabbed and held on to, so Al had them shave to make the battle go better.

So when did it stop?

Well, in most European cultures it never did.

It just got fancier and more complicated.

Beards were passé in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, but facial hair was not.

Mustaches and side burns were the style de jour.

Prince Albert had sideburns as did most of the royals of 19th Century Europe.  And as royals are known to do, it got out of hand.

In some cases, way out of hand.

Kaiser Wilhelm I had side-whiskers to go along with his mustache.

Once the 19th Century rolled around, most European men were clean shaven, especially in Poland and Eastern Europe – it had to do with that battle thing.

But, nonetheless, military men brought facial hair back.  The Hussars all had sideburns, and as the European nations became Imperial nations, the fashion flowed to the Western Hemisphere.

Vice President and duelist Aaron Burr had sideburns…

…as did President Martin Van Buren. They were buds, BTW.

Young Van Buren

Old Van Buren

Robert E. Lee, US Grant and all the young Turks at West Point had them.

And when the Civil War broke out, those who didn’t have beards had side burns.

But they weren’t called that until Ambrose Burside, a not so great Union general, gained more celebrity for his over the top mutton chops than for his prowess in battle.

Burnside was a popular guy well liked in the army and later in politics.  He made friends easily, was known to smile most of the time, and had an uncanny ability to remember names

Professionally – not so much!  He was referred to as “unimaginative”, “obstinate” – he was a General after all – and Grant called him “unfitted” for command.

Nevertheless, he was popular enough to leave his mark on American Culture when his name was reversed and used to christen the side whiskers that made him stand out in a crowd.

Burn Sides became Side Burns, and voila!  we have a style, a fashion, a trend, and nomenclature.

They’ve come and gone over the years; the 1950s brought the greaser look as Brando was the Wild One and Elvis Presley was all the rage.

In the 1960s they were part of the counter-culture.  Beards were popular too, but side burns, while making a statement didn’t terrify the establishment so much!

I gradually let mine sneak down the side of my face all through high school, and by the time I graduated, they were long enough to make a statement, annoy the powers that be, and tell the world I was a grown UP.

Or so I thought!

Jack of All Trades…

“He was a jack of all trades,” his lifelong paramour would lovingly claim.

The added line, “but the master of none” was omitted from her speech, hers was a compliment she wanted unsullied by the finishing line deprecation.

He knew how to do a little bit of everything, many things really.

Sure, sure they weren’t perfect, but they were good enough, or so they seemed back then.

The memory is clear; he made her feel that though he may not be the master of the task, he was the master of the moment.

And that was good enough for her.


Each week, the lovely and talented Ivy Walker hosts a link-up challenging writers to spin a tale in six sentences – no more, no less. Click on the link right here to find out more and link your own post. While you’re there, click on the blue frog button to find more stories from some wonderful storytellers.

This week’s prompt was master.

Poet Laureate

Bob Dylan turns 76 today.

He is the poet of my generation.

Here’s one we rarely hear…

That’s right, today is World Turtle Day.  It’s a real thing folks, and is sponsored by the American Tortoise Rescue.

Don’t let the name fool you, turtles and tortoises worldwide get cred today.

The special day is designed to bring attention to and increase knowledge of and respect for turtles, tortoises and to encourage human action to help them survive.

In other words, share the planet.

Folks celebrate around the world by  – I’m not kidding – dressing UP as turtles or wearing green dresses.

Some save turtles caught on highways, and some teachers dedicate the day to learning about the little critters.

The relatively new celebration began in 1990 when the American Tortoise Rescue decided to make folks more aware of the friendly reptiles.

That’s right, they are reptiles.  Turtles are known for their hard shells which protect them, but in reality along with the upper shell, called a carapace, they have a lower shell called a plastron.

I missed that in Biology class.

The largest turtles are the leatherback sea turtles who can weigh UP to 2,000 pounds!

In some turtle species the temperature determines the gender of the turtle while in the egg!  Lower temperatures lead to males while higher temps bring on females.


Some turtles lay eggs in the sand and split, leaving the eggs to hatch on their own and make it back to the ocean.

Mom of the Year!

Sea turtles have special gland which remove salt from the water they drink.  Now that’s a filter!

And, last but not least, many are endangered, so be careful out there!

Happy World Turtle Day!