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Madison in 100 objects: 2. Paul Soglin's mustache
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Madison in 100 objects: 2. Paul Soglin's mustache

From the Madison in 100 Objects series
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100 Objects: Soglin's mustache

He's been called Madison's "Mayor for Life." We'll see about that. But one thing that has been a part of Paul Soglin seemingly for life has been his bushy mustache, now gray in his seventh term.

It’s always been there.

It was there when U.S. troops finally started to trickle back from a long war in Vietnam. It was there to mark the beginning of the career of the city’s youngest mayor. It was there when it was in style — and it was there when it wasn’t.

It’s been trim and neat; it’s been walrus and substantial. It’s gray now, but it used to be strikingly dark.

It’s difficult to talk about Madison’s past, present and immediate future without talking about Paul Soglin. And it’s impossible to picture Madison’s mayor of 17 years without his mustache.

Soglin’s ’stache is as Madison as Soglin is, and no one has influenced the city’s personality in quite the way he has.

Soglin might have the strongest case for having lucky facial hair, and that may be why he has never shaved it clean.

It’s been there each of the 10 times he’s been elected to a seat in Madison’s city hall — seven times as mayor and three times as an alderman.

It represents the advocacy that put the city on the map as a place where liberal politics would always be welcomed, and where many still look to government to solve society’s problems.

Today, it softens a man who has spent enough time in city hall to know better than you — and he’ll let you know it.

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