Friday, February 18, 2011

Time to make the aspic

We have a soft spot for old etiquette guides.

Are you young? Modern?
Are you young? Modern? Great! This book is for you! (1954, Scholastic)

Or maybe you need to grow up a little first. (1962, Harper & Row)

Some of the advice dispensed in these books holds true today. Some is completely outdated. Some borders on cringe-worthy. But oh, the illustrations!

What career will she ever choose? (Spoiler alert: if she follows the advice of the book, it will be to get married and have babies. "Basically, of course, every girl wants to get married and raise a family," writes author Candy Jones. "...And when she does marry and finds herself darning socks or rinsing out baby's diapers - even when she gripes about how terrible her fate is, don't believe her...sock darning and diaper rinsing are part of what she wants out of life, deep down inside. Meanwhile, however, one has to pass the time some way, before the right marrying man shows up." ("Time to Grow Up," By Cindy Jones, 1962, Harper & Row)

"Let them paw you"
Look at that cool customer! This part of the book warns readers about the dangers of being "fast." This is probably advice parents will give their children until the end of time. (From "Time to Grow Up")

Or perhaps you are looking for some solid napkin advice.

Beware the "lapkin"
Beware of the "lapkin"! I wonder which "high authority" "daringly suggests" that you sit on your napkin? "Quite beyond the pale" indeed! Fetch me some smelling salts! By the way, this same book says that dunking your food in sauce in acceptable "only in the bosom of your family." Remember that. ("The Complete Book of Table Setting," By Amelia Leavitt Hill, 1949, The Greystone Press, NY)

Many of these books provide meal suggestions, and it is amazing how much aspic is included.
Mmmmmmm, aspic
(from "The Complete Book of Table Setting")

Table setting ideas are abundant, from styles suited to sitting side by side (a bit awkward if you've ever actually tried that) to "little people" at Halloween to duck hunters.

I think sitting side-by-side is a little weird
Very little people!
This will come in handy at my next Duck Hunting Luncheon.
(all from "The Complete Book of Table Setting")

Good manners never change, but etiquette is a living thing, adapted for each new generation. Teaching the waltz can co-exist with teaching texting etiquette. When our young people grow up, the world will be yet more different, but there will always exist the need to treat others with respect!

Have a great weekend - may it be filled with proper table settings.

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