Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Barnabee Bumbleberry and the Great Mustache Debate of 1960
 


Barnabee Bumbleberry and the Great Mustache Debate of 1960

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 23, 2013

Barnabee Bumbleberry was a feature of the Children’s Friend for many years. The style of the cartoon changed according to the style of the illustrator – the 1960 cartoon featured here was drawn by Bonnie D. Malan. The gentle, imaginative whimsey of Barnabee and his puppy was consistent, though. Naomi W. Randall, a longtime Primary leader and the poet who wrote the lyrics to “I Am a Child of God” was its author.

I chose this cartoon to post because, well, Keepa is the online source for historical information on Mormon facial hair, isn’t it? And the whole theme is another one of those things you would never expect to find in a current magazine.

We might be tempted to think this cartoon was part of a subtle campaign to persuade little boys that they shouldn’t wear facial hair, but I think that would be an error of interpretation. Barnabee Bumbleberry regularly indulged in imagining the possibilities in life (the adventures he might have that day, or what might be in the box his grandmother sent); after exploring several improbable alternatives, Barnabee always freely chose a normal, reasonable option (he chose to go to school as usual, or was pleased when Grandma’s gift turned out to be a pair of pajamas). So instead of suggesting that mustaches were bad, this cartoon actually suggests that the different styles are exciting possibilities, even when, in the end, Barnabee chooses the only real option available to a little boy.

From the Children’s Friend, March 1960:

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Barnabee has a big problem that has been troubling him.

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Should he wear a mustache like Mr. Hanson’s?

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Or should he grow one like Mr. Mike’s, the organ grinder man?

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Of course Mr. Pierre, the Frenchman, looks grand with his.

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And farmer Jenson has a beard to go with his.

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Maybe Barnabee would look better if he had one like professor Hall’s.

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On second thought Barnabee decides not to wear a mustache at all.

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“It’s good to get important problems such as that settled,” says Barnabee.



7 Comments »

  1. Good set up! And yeah, you’re right that we wouldn’t expect to see this type of cartoon these days. Maybe a more innocent time allowed for serial cartoons, and fanciful topics?

    Comment by David Y. — April 23, 2013 @ 7:46 am

  2. I have nothing against moustaches, but in my opinion Barnaby made a wise choice.
    A little boy with moustache would look quite silly.

    Comment by Niklas — April 23, 2013 @ 7:53 am

  3. I may be reading too much into this, but as a descendant of the Malans, making me some kind of cousin by marriage to Sister Malan, I note the difference between the Frenchman, Mr. Pierre looking “grand” with his mustache and “Mr. Mike, the organ grinder man” appearing as perhaps an Italian caricature (well, they all seemed to be caricatures). But the Frenchman seems much more positively protrayed than the possibly Italian organ grinder (assuming stereotypes here). My Grandmother, who was from the Piedmontese back to the Malans always made the distinction that they were French rather than Italian – a cultural preference. The Waldensians (Valdois) were French-speaking Italians just over the mountain border, and as early Protestants, weren’t big fans of the dominant Italian culture. Not to mention that when they got to America, Italians were a disfavored ethnic group here for a few generations.

    Comment by Grant — April 23, 2013 @ 9:29 am

  4. How wonderful that little Barnabee had so many role models from which to choose! (Alas, my neighborhood has never had an organ grinder…)

    Comment by Paul — April 23, 2013 @ 9:54 am

  5. Prof. Hall looks suspiciously like Elder Widsoe.

    Comment by The Other Clark — April 23, 2013 @ 10:58 am

  6. Thanks for the reminder. I enjoyed the Children’s Friend as a child. Each month when it came, the first thing I looked for was Barnabee Bumbleberry. I would have my mother read it to me. I don’t know why, but for the longest time I was sure the correct name was Baraberry Bumbleberry. I think I was an early teen before I took notice that I was saying it wrong.

    Comment by John Wilson — April 25, 2013 @ 11:18 am

  7. I love this, Ardis. :-)

    Great find!

    Comment by Sonny — April 25, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

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