In the words of Scenic Rim wordsmith Bernard O'Reilly, "the theory of evolution stands forever condemned by one thing - the beard".
O'Reilly's humourous, journalistic contributions to existential Darwinian conundrums - "why evolution made the hair fall off the apes' bodies where it had always grown, and grow on his face where it had never grown before" - were undoubtedly pondered by twenty pre-hipster locals who downed razors for three months from July 1949 to raise funds towards St Mary's swimming pool.
As reported in the Beaudesert Times in October 1949, a bevvy of hairy chaps - most of whom were edging a little past their prime and confidently prepared to throw contemporary fashion to the wind - put Beaudesert on the map.
The competition to grow the most impressive facial hair was to be judged by The Courier Mail's Nelson Burns on sartorial elegance, density and length, with a maximum of thirty points to be awarded for each category.
On Sunday, September 4, two months into the hiatus on personal grooming, a benefit "Burlesque Football " match was held between the Bearded Ones and a mix of A and B Grade players from the local Beaudesert Club.
Now, it may be just me, but for those of you picturing a band of bearded, burly dudes in fish-net stockings, laced corsets and six-inch heels teetering after a diamond-studded ball, the term "burlesque" circa 1949 merely refers to satire, a parody, a jolly good exhibition match.
And jolly good fun it was.
As reported in the Times on September 9, the Bearded Ones, "some of whom may have been athletes or footballers in the past but did not look like it" on the day, were nothing if not good sports. N. Barker gallantly "chased his opponents right to the goal - even if it was fifteen yards behind and getting farther behind with every step".
Tommy Bourke set the day's record for the number of times he fell over without being tackled, and "despite the fact he spent much of his time on the ground, he scored a try - when no one was looking".
Tom Draper, who was by then in possession of a lovely, glowing auburn beard, scored the Bearded Team's first try, followed by George Dyer, who had "more hair on his face than on the top of his head".
Matt Hession contributed "a shapely pair of legs that did not appear to be of much use to him", although Andy Waters, "despite his facial fungus, played a game reminiscent of his old days".
Despite the fact that the Secretary of the Swimming Pool Committee staffed the score board and at one time had the Bearded Team credited 85 to 18, the Beaudesert Team emerged victorious 27-21 after Sid Callanan, Kevin Pantiz, Eric O'Brien and George Chaplin led the charge.
The exhibition match raised £15, which contributed to a total of £1000 the beard-growing competition had raised for St Mary's swimming pool.
Culminating in a gala ball, competitors dressed in 1890s finery and, having been taught by Moira Brosnan, danced The Minuet with their partners to music by Miss Jan Enright.
The fundraiser had produced black beards, ginger beards, brindle beards, thin, think and curly beards. However, the ultimate beard belonged to one of the youngest competitors, twenty-nine-year-old Robert Stewart from Brisbane Street, Beaudesert.
Stewart's "jet black" beard was declared "heavy, like a thicket with three-inch grown and fine staple".
For his efforts, he was awarded with both a fine dinner service and, as noted by O'Reilly, in the vein of other highly successful bearded ladies-men like Henry VIII or Blue Beard, "a lingering kiss from his wife".
All bearded men said they would shave first thing in the morning.
The History Hermit is a Scenic Rim resident with a passion for social history.
The Hermit has a Bachelor of Historical Inquiry and Practice and is working towards a master's degree.
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