Appalachia Cleaning

Shaving Soap

Jerry Pap Wilson

Pap 1970 something.

A few days ago The Deer Hunter and I were watching some silly reality tv show, I believe it was Ax Men. One of the ‘tree hunters’ is really more of a swamp hunter. I’m sure it was to add to the craziness of the show or to highlight the oddity of his character, but he was shown barreling down the water in a boat shaving with a razor at the same time-only he was dry shaving.

The Deer Hunter remarked “Ouch-that had to hurt!” While he was wincing with sympathetic pain, I was thinking of Pap. Just like in all areas of his life, Pap never thought about spending money on himself-not even for something as needful as shaving soap or a shaving brush.

Seems like it was only yesterday that I could stand on tip toes to watch Pap lather up a bar of Ivory soap then smooth the bubbles across his face-from the tops of his cheek bones to the curve of his chin. Then with sure fast strokes starting at the same spot on the ridge of his cheek bone he wiped it all off with the end of his razor only leaving behind small lines of soap that disappeared as soon as he wiped his face with a towel.

I don’t know if it was the era Pap was raised in or a hold over from his days of being a Marine, but I have never seen him with a beard or a mustache. I’ve rarely seen Pap with even stubble on his face-he keeps it smooth and clean shaven.

Most of the time my brother Steve has a mustache, but every once in a while he’ll shave it off.

Unlike Pap, Paul, and Steve, The Deer Hunter doesn’t have to shave every day since his beard grows much slower. Oh he wished he did though! I’m secretly glad he doesn’t-because if he could he’d grow a beard that ended at his waist.

The Deer Hunter goes from having a mustache-to not having one-to having a goatee-to not having one-to having a beard during deer season-to not having one. In other words he changes his facial hair about as often as the wind blows. The first time the girls seen him without a mustache they cried. Actually they pitched a fit and wanted him to put it back-which of course he couldn’t. It was a real ordeal-2 toddlers running through the house screaming, crying, and refusing to listen to us explain anything to them. All over a mustache.

The Art Of Manliness tells you how to shave like your Grandfather did-go here to read about it.

Want to make your own shaving soap? Check out these links:

Wellness Mama

Blue Aspen Originals

And please if you make shaving soap or have any other tips about shaving leave a comment about it.


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  • Reply
    July 13, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    My dad was always clean-shaven. My husband and son wear full beards and moustaches most of the time, although from time to time they’ll feel the urge to “start over”. I really like my husband in a beard and moustache, but figure it’s his face and his hair. LOL First time he shaved off after we had the younger grandkids, one refused to come give him hugs for a whole visit, as she was really not certain it was him.

  • Reply
    July 12, 2013 at 8:11 am

    The blacksmith makes his shaving soap. He pours it into PVC pipes and then when it’s hard cuts it into bars. The little circles fit perfectly in his shaving mug.
    I use the bars too! they fit perfectly in little glad reuseable containers found at the dollar store.
    I will send you a couple of bars in a week or so.
    You can buy inexpensive shaving brushes at Wal-Greens for about $12. The authentic beaver bristles are much more expensive and I’ve not found them locally.

  • Reply
    Mary Rutherford
    July 11, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    I can just see the girls running around crying! I never knew my husband without a full beard and mustache. One Halloween when our son Jacob was about four the doorbell rang and we opened the door expecting a trick-or-treater. Well the trick was on us – there stood my husband completely clean shaven! Such a strange sight to see. After my initial shock, I recovered enough to ask Jacob “do you know who this is”? He replied: “No, but he is wearing my daddy’s clothes”. It took us awhile to not feel like we were living with a stranger!

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    July 11, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Our Dad had a shaving mug, a large heavy white pottery one that a round bar of soap went into. He’d lather up a brush, brush it all over and shave, and once in a while, if we were standing watching him, he’d lean over and slap a bit of the lather on our nose, setting us to giggles. LOL
    I believe one of The Sisters has the mug now. I hope they’ve been able to find that round bar of soap to go in it, because to me, that would be the forever scent of our Dad.
    Wonderful memories.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 11, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Do you have a razor strop hanging around there anywhere? It’s a strop not a strap. Gramma had Grampa’s hanging on a nail in the kitchen. She threatened me with it many times but never ever touched me in anger. Grampa Breedlove died two years before I was born so I didn’t get to see firsthand how he sharpened his razor. Daddy used a safety razor and cup soap and that is how I began shaving. The first razor of Daddy’s I can remember had a handle that screwed off to replace the double edged blade. The second one opened up like a double clam shell and you didn’t have to take off the handle. Razor blades were expensive then as now, so Daddy used a blade for weeks then turned it over and shaved some
    Have you ever been bearded? That is when a man would rub his stubbly beard on you in a particularly sensitive place. Daddy did to to me and I did it to my children. I haven’t yet bearded either of my grandsons but your post today reminded me that they shouldn’t have to miss out on a family tradition.

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    July 11, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    First off, I can visualize the girls freeking out over the change in his look..LOL.. I use to work a job that required me to shave everyday and wear a tie, yuk,, The things you’ll do to pay the bills, I stayed at that job for 6 long years,, felt like decades.. When I finally got this job I grew a beard after the first couple years and have had it every since.. and don’t plan on getting rid of it no time soon.. I’ve had it for about 22yrs..

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    July 11, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Well I never heard the beat! So many shaving response from so many fellows! From all their comments, I was reminded of my childhood experiences of watching my Daddy shave on the back porch – where he had a tiny mirror hanging. It was always fun to watch him – even when he was so tired from digging in a well all day. He always smiled as he finished drying his face.
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    July 11, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    I dont have a beard and I shave my legs with Grand Pa’s Pine Tar Soap. But I did make the laundry soap and my laundry has never been so clean or smelled so fresh. Even my husbands stinky T-shirts don’t smell. I put a bit of bluing in the warsh water but none in the wrench water. See my vocabulary is increasing.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    July 11, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I grew a beard at about 18 and kept it up until 12 years ago. I first shaved the beard and then after a while the moustache. I will never forget coming out of the bathroom with a smooth face and my wife looked at me and laughed! She said she didn’t know my upper lip was so long. I have tried several times to grow it back but after a while I had to shave. Last year for Christmas my wife gave me a nice razor and shaving cream from a company called The Art of Shaving. I am hooked on it. I use the brush and a shaving cup. I have my grandpa’s straight razor that was made in Sheffield England but have never got up the courage to try and shave with it. I’m afraid I might cut my throat! I did get a shave with one at a barber shop once and it was great. I found that in a pinch my wife’s hair conditioner works very well if not better than shaving cream. One day at church a little old lady came up to me and put her hands on my face and said she loved a man with a clean shaven face. I was so shocked that I didn’t know what to say. She was well into her eighties and I did not know her from Adam’s house cat. Hmm…I wonder where the term Adam’s house cat comes from?

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    July 11, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    For Howland, you can buy Wilkinson Sword blades on, but they claim that they are now made in Germany.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I hate shaving almost as much as I hate being unshaven, and use a Norelco battery-powered razor most of the time, but if I let it grow for a day or two I get out the old Gillette Adjustable and a can of cheap Barbasol. Truth is, the electric razor burns more than the blade razor does.
    Here’s a little-known fact about Gillette razors: When King Gillette (yep, that was really his name) started in the razor business he donated razors to the government to be given to soldiers in basic training. Those brass razors that came apart by unscrewing the handle were inexpensive to make and the real profit was in the blades and many of the recruits were shaving for the first time or nearly so, and the razors worked so well that the guys kept using them long after they left the service.
    I remember ‘way back when Gillette was the major sponsor of the World Series on TV, and the jingle that touted Gillette Blue Blades.
    The Dollar General has Gillette stainless blades, made in Korea, but I really wish I could find some Wilkinson Sword brand blades, made in Sheffield, England. I’ve read that, but cannot verify that there’s a steel mill in Mexico that rolls out old railroad rail to make new razor blades. Sounds plausible..

  • Reply
    July 11, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    A few years ago, I had met the
    Deer Hunter with you and the Blind
    Pig Gang in Concert over in Brasstown. He was clean shaven and
    all, but about a week and a half
    later I was sitting here reading
    the Blind Pig at my desk. Something
    made me turn around and there he
    was sitting patiently right beside
    me. “How’s it going?” he said, and
    that’s why I have extra drawers
    in my bathroom. He had grown a
    mustache and I didn’t recognize
    him at first.
    I’ve never tried to grow anything
    below my nose or chin, it itches
    me unless I shave often. I recon
    I take after my daddy, got lots
    of hair. When my granddaughters
    were little, they use to love to
    run their tiny little fingers
    in my hair and just grinnn…Ken

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    July 11, 2013 at 11:55 am

    my uncle used a straight razor until his death and he was in his 90s!!!!! My aunt said that he was so very careful that it took him longer and longer as the years went on. My husband was “haired out” somewhat like your Deer Hunter. I miss it…

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    July 11, 2013 at 9:54 am

    My hubby of 42 years has always had a full beard as long as I’ve know him. All except one time years ago when he shaved it off one day. It was awful! I couldn’t look at him till he grew it back! He’s kept it ever since.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2013 at 9:33 am

    My girls were too old to cry when their dad shaved his moustache for the first time in years, instead, they laughed for hours about how ugly he was. They now realize he was even uglier on the inside.
    Dad had a little metal box that he kept his shaving brush, soap and razor in. He locked it when he was through shaving to keep us girls from butchering our legs with the sharp blades.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 11, 2013 at 9:25 am

    my husband also changes his “look” so often I don’t notice it for a few days, just something vaguely different about him until it hits me.
    Also uses soap.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2013 at 8:53 am

    I remember my dad having a shaving cup, the soap, and the busy brush. I was always curious about the razor; one day I took it apart and dropped the screw that held it together. What a time I had trying to find it. The worst part was telling my dad what I did. He quickly solved my problem with a lecture on how dangerous the razor was and not to do it again.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 11, 2013 at 8:19 am

    I hardly notice the changes in the Deer Hunter’s facial hair any more. His norm is change. LOL Though it used to be startling.
    When I shave my lags I use the regular bath bar. I always have and it’s always worked fine. I can, however, see that a mans beard is much coarser than my leg hair and need a little more help to shave.
    One more thought on male facial hair…..I’d rather kiss a clean shaven man.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 11, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Not only do I shave almost every day, I shave my head 2-3 times a week. I started balding at 16 and spent the next 30 years trying to cover it up. When I finally outgrew my vanity, I started buzz cutting my hair then shaving it. I only wish I had done it sooner. I shave my head in the shower using the same soap I use on the rest of my body. No mess, no bother! It all goes down the drain.
    I do have a mustache. I keep it to cover an ugly scar I have on my upper lip. I was in a wreck and busted up my face. Tore my nose almost off. Dr. Jack Thornton did a fantastic putting me back together (he estimated 200-300 tiny stiches.) They only noticible scar is the one on my lip and I can cover it with my ‘stache.
    So all you guys with hair loss problems, don’t listen to Dr. Bosley, check out Dr. Gillette and lose it all. You’ll be surprised how good it makes you feel. You’ll also be surprised how many women want to help you keep it smooth and shiny.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    July 11, 2013 at 7:41 am

    I too shaved with Ivory (99% pure) for years. I grew my first mustache for Swain County’s Centennial in 1971 and have only shaved it off a couple of times. The last time my daughters protested so I haven’t gone there again. After getting out of wearing a uniform in Law Enforcement I grew a full beard which I wore until it mysteriously turned mostly grey, I now stick with just a mustache and goatee which looks more like Harlan Sanders as time goes on.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    July 11, 2013 at 7:30 am

    I have gone back to a safety razor. Got tired of counting how many blades the razor companies were going to put in next. I also went to a shaving brush, which I love using, and a cup. I do use an actual shaving cream that I have to lather up with my brush after putting about an almond-sized glob of it in the cup..
    I am a tuba player, and if you try to grow a mustache, it gets painful when you press that big mouthpiece against several days’ stubble. Then if the mustache hair grows out long, the mouthpiece leaks air. And a beard without a mustache looks sort of weird to me, so I shave it all every day.

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