How I helped Garcia's mustache get an early start | Bleader

How I helped Garcia's mustache get an early start

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Jesus Garcia (center) as a sophomore at Saint Rita High School, shortly before a dress code change allowed him to start growing his trademark mustache.
  • Jesus Garcia (center) as a sophomore at Saint Rita High School, shortly before a dress code change allowed him to start growing his trademark mustache
My coverage of the mayoral campaign has focused largely on Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, not because we attended the same high school in overlapping years, although we did.

Garcia was a sophomore and I was a senior at Saint Rita in 1972. (The school was at 63rd and Claremont then, and since has moved to 77th and Western.) I didn't know him in high school. When he was an alderman in the 1980s and a state senator in the 1990s, he was a faithful liberal, and I thought several times of profiling him for the Reader, but never got around to it. I decided to profile him shortly after he announced his campaign for mayor last October. In November, when I interviewed him for the first time for that profile, it was also our initial meeting.

I knew he was fond of his mustache—I'd never seen a photo of him without it—so in that first interview I asked him how long he's had it. He said he started it in high school and has had it ever since.

That made me laugh. It so happened that in 1972, Saint Rita's student council and student newspaper—I was one of the editors—had pressured the administration to loosen up the dress code. Our pressure resulted in the formation of a new dress-code committee, whose first chair was—me. We soon claimed a radical victory: for the first time ever, students would be allowed to have facial hair. Garcia apparently started his 'stache shortly thereafter.

Garcia yesterday, at his campaign office.

He chuckled when I recounted my instrumental political role in the birth of his mustache, which is now streaked with gray. One of Garcia's attributes is his penchant for giving credit to others. He told me that he thinks the mustache has made him a more appealing candidate through the years, and that it was a good, full mustache in part because of its early formation. "And I want to thank you for that," he said.

So depending on your politics, you can either credit me or blame me tonight if Garcia wins by a whisker.

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