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In honor of Father's Day: The Old Man teaches Shep to shave

Anyone remember their father teaching them how to shave? Was the advice good or bad?

Most guys would have to be in their 60s to have learned to shave on a double edge razor, which was intimidating for kids to use. The DE tradition of father to son instruction has largely been lost, though perhaps it's coming back.

In honor of Father's Day (or Fathers' Day, or Fathers Day?), here is a link to Jean Shepard recounting his father, aka "the Old Man," teaching him to shave with a brand new, gift wrapped, shiny Gillette razor and Blue Blades:

Jean Shepherd - "Shep's First Shave"

This is a recording of Shep live on WOR radio, July 28, 1975. The relevant section begins about the 31 minute mark.

Shep was born in Hammond, Indiana, July 1921, and he says he was 14 when his father gave him his first razor, which he describes as a Gillette chrome twist to open in a black pebble box. So I guess it was actually a nickel Senator open comb butterfly razor. How would you like one of them as a gift?

The shaving instruction begins with having Shep scrub the many layers of dirt off his face with lots of hot water and Palmolive soap. This is followed by squeezing some Williams shaving cream from a tube onto his face, and building a lather with his fingers.

The Old Man says he shaves starting at the bottom of the neck using short strokes, so Shep should try that first, but then feel free to develop his own routine. Don't press, he advises, let the razor do the work.

Well, you can guess what happens next: Shep's first encounter with what he calls a "septic pencil." When he's through shaving, the Old Man has him put some Aqua Velva on his hands and splash it on his face. This was not exactly the fun part.

It was six weeks before he needed his next shave. He says he has hated shaving ever since. (Back in the Old Days, DE shaving was not nearly so romantic as it is now.)

I've never used one of those open comb butterfly Gillettes. But my father gave me an adjustable closed comb butterfly, and I despised it. They look like cool presents, but are, how shall I put it, dangerous razors for teens. I think a New Type open comb would have been milder and safer for Shep (has anyone ever nicked themselves with a New Type?). I started with a Tech, which was safer, but disappeared from the medicine cabinet after I got my new razor (my sister?).

In case the name Jean Shepard doesn't ring a bell, he wrote and narrated "A Christmas Story," which is based on stories he told on WOR, and his actual childhood. Here are some relevant links:

I remember hearing those stores live on WOR in New York when it was a 50,000 watt clear channel AM station, so it carried!

I hope you enjoy listening to this as much as I did, and still do.

What did your father teach you?


BTW, if you find my writing a bit long winded, it is due to the bad influence of listening to the seemingly random peregrinations of Shep's storytelling live an hour a day on WOR.
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Jean Sheppard was one of my favorites. He had a TV show in the NYC area.

My father was a terrible shaver who constantly cut himself. When I bought my first razor, a Gillette adjustable (FB), I followed the directions on the sheet and got much better shaves.
My dad shaved with an electric. He gave me a cheap electric too. I did see him on occasion with a DE razor and a can of cream. He has a pained expression on his face.
My Dad was using cartridges and canned foam by the time I started shaving. Found out later he hated DE razors and having to make a lather. He gave me a can of Noxema shaving cream, some sort of cartridge razor, and told me not to cut myself.
I was on my own for shaving (a group of us on swim team at a regional meet actually shaved our legs because we'd heard that's what the Really Fast guys did).

I remember once my father sent me to the drug store to pick up some razor blades for his DE. He did not specify a brand or anything so I did my best and picked some that looked plausible (the advertising spoke highly of them :)) but man he grumbled at me the next day. "These are the worst blades I have ever seen!" I think I said the same thing when I tried Voskhod. :p YMMV!

My brother turned me on to JS when he came home from his time in the Army with big reel-to-reel tapes of JS's radio show which he'd collected off VOA or something. Being a bookworm type, I went immediately to the books, which I loved.

Had the chance to see JS speaking at a local event in Oregon and sad to say found him ungracious to the fellow in the book-signing line in front of us; however his story-telling was on point as expected.

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