Wednesday, December 16, 2009

16 December 1955 “Manners: Then and Now and Christmas Ideas”

Let’s start with some films on manners from the time.
This next film is to teach school age children to behave at lunch, however, this should be used for adults on how to behave in the world at malls and restaurants, public bathrooms and lines at movie theatres. Such sage advice. It is odd to me that so much is expressed today to children about being fair and loving our differences but manners should go along with this. What better way to appreciate one another than to be considerate? 
You will even notice in this film such things as when the little girl takes the last milk, rather than shouting or demanding more or arguing with the little girl, he politely asks for if there is any more. How nice would this simple action be in a retail store or grocery store! Also, like most things, politeness can be contagious and you want to emulate. However, today there are endless reality TV shows that glamorize and reward the rudest and most wretched behavior. Even famous chefs are now to be exemplified by their ill mannered shouting and harassing of others. Isn’t it amazing how much actual real life knowledge there is in these films. They may seem campy and over the top at first, but don’t you think sitting with people who are polite and thoughtful more fun than someone shouting, putting their feet up on things and spreading crumbs and filth all over? Also, good posture is just medically sound. You are less likely to have back problems and such issues from merely elongated your spine and keeping your feet flat on the ground. Simple and easy, yet now scoffed at and seen as ‘old fashioned’. Also, it is medically sound to wash before and after eating, cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing and yet I rarely see this in public and I am sure the public schools are the same and we wonder at the spread of the H1N1. That is why often ‘good manners’ are merely ‘common sense’. Even a lady wearing gloves summer or winter in stores protects herself from the germs and can wash those gloves at home. Much courtesy is also for our won benefit as well as those around us!
I also find it interesting now that many people would view this movie and think how controlled everyone had to be, lorded over. But, honestly, in public the freedom to do what we want is a gift, how we chose to express that freedom should be in that we, as a free people, choose to make it nice for others around us and therefore also for us. With the choice, we choose to make a neat kind considerate world for all in which to live. Some how ‘freedom’ has been replaced with ‘I do what I want!’ in a dogmatic way. As if your personal actions are of a greater value than those around you. We are all told how wonderful and special we are that we don’t care about others who have to clean up after us or live in the world with us.
In the introduction of my 1954 “Everyday Etiquette” by Amy Vanderbilt we get a view that things are changing now in our ‘modern’ world:
We are in the midst of a social revolution. Manners are changing but the essential need for manners of some kind remains the same. Good manners are the traffic rules for society in general-not in the purely ‘social’ sense. Without good manners, living would be chaotic, human beings unbearable to each other.
A knowledge of what constitutes good manners makes us comfortable within ourselves and with other people. Automatic good manners under difficult circumstances increase our security and our ability to help others achieve social poise, too. Reduced to a phrase, good manners is consideration of other people in respect to their feelings, their safety, their privacy and their full social rights and privileges.
                                                                                                -Amy Vanderbilt
Under the chapter ‘Courtesies of Everyday Living” I found this interesting. Here is the question:
What do you consider the important “don’ts” for a man or boy to remember?
DO NOT-(remember these are what NOT to do)
Enter a room before a lady unless it is dark and you wish to make it ready for her
Seat yourself while ladies are standing
Speak or bow to a lady before she has given some sign of recognition
Smoke without asking permission of the lady you are accompanying or sit so near (as in a train) that the smoke might annoy her.
Call any but your contemporaries, servants, or children by their first names.
Keep your hat on while talking to a lady (unless asked to replace it) or fail to touch your hat or to lift it when necessary
Take a woman’s hand, nudge her, or take her arm except to help her into or out of vehicles or across the street
Fail to pull out a lady’s chair for her or fail to serve her or to see that she is served first
speak of repulsive matters at table
criticize another’s religion, belittle his race or country, or refer unnecessarily to his color in his presence
Enter any place of worship without removing your hat (if its removal is expected) and without speaking in reverent tones.
Laugh at the mistakes or misfortunes of others
Fail to give due respect to a clergyman of any faith, to a woman or any religious order.
I found an interesting question in this book about a woman who leaves her baby in its pram outside the store while she is shopping only to find someone cooing over it. I found out that at this time, in the 1950’s this was often done.  A woman would leave her child in its pram outside a store. Such a world did exist where others new their town and neighbors well enough to know that that child would be protected BY her community. Can you imagine that today? That says SO MUCH about our current society.
Here is a good list for children.
Can you give me a list of the important “don’ts” that might serve as a guide for my two goys, aged eight and ten?
Well, they don’t-(remember this is what they should NOT do)
scratch , pick the teeth, spit, comb the hair, or tend the nails in public
chew with their mouths open or with obvious noise or lip smacking.
Leave a spoon in  a cup, or eat with a knife, or tuck in their napkins or suck their fingers instead of wiping them on a napkin.
Sit down to a meal unwashed and uncombed or improperly dressed.
Fail to greet others in the household when they arise or return home.
Tilt chairs or lounge on the dinner table or put their elbows on it, except between courses (and then preferably one elbow at a time, if any.)
Go up and down stairs like elephants and bang doors after them.
Pass in front of others without excusing themselves.
Use a flat “yes” or “no” in answer to questions. Instead, “Yes, Mother,” or “Yes, Mr. Roberts (or Sir)”.
Swear in a way that is considered offensive.
Put more than a manageable mouthful in their mouths at one time.
Burp, sneeze, or cough without attempting to turn away from others, and then only behind the cupped hand or a clean handkerchief.
Behave noisily and conspicuously in public places.
Enter a room whose door is closed without knocking and waiting for permission to enter.
Interrupt a conversation except for an important reason and then only after asking permission to speak.
I know I am always appalled at the manners of children in shops. I think it funny how so many are worried for their childrens safety and won’t let them play or do things alone, but the second they step foot in a store, off they run and the parent cares less. Then they race in front of you, never say excuse me, kick parents and shout “I hate you” while the parents ignore them or they bribe them or use empty threats “You won’t get this toy if you don’t behave” two or three times meanwhile the kid is wailing and screaming.
It seems even in 1955 the ‘new’ permissive nature of upbringing was upsetting to some. As there is a question in the book from someone about the ‘so called permissive method of upbringing”. The thin end of the wedge I suppose. Although every generation was taught less respect and manners and then their children do less then that and so on and so on so here we are.
Now this book has far too many things to give more examples. I could talk about it more in later posts if you were interested or you could also ask for a great vintage book and get this yourself. I am sure it would be a few dollars at a local used book shop.
So, I think it is a safe assumption that people were, over all, more polite then than now. Of course one could then pose the question, given the technology we have now to those then, how long would it take before they merely were like us: talking on cell phone while being waiting on in a line in a store, saying hateful things anonymously online, cutting in front of others and strutting about in pajamas and messy hair? Who can say.
I have a theory, of course. It seems to me that what we, as a people, had come to at that point in time were already acting impolite in ways to the older generations who lived before the wars in corsets and ‘ladies at home’. Yet, there still seemed a civility of sorts. I think this decade really saw the last time in a long run of history (really since the Renaissance when the concept of courtly graces and ‘manners’ really came about, but that is an entire other post, or rather a year long project!)when a unified code of ‘what is right and wrong’ existed.
Now, rather it was driven by a Christian base or not, those who were not Christian still followed the sort of ‘social code’. It is true that I do not want the inequality back, I like and think that in our country, really in the civilized world, we should allow equality for all. If others think or act or live differently than we, it should be none of our business, but then in a public setting we should be tolerant but simply not forgetting our manners. What I don’t understand is the hate. The hatred of those we disagree with or don’t approve of has a sort of life of its own. It has become a sort of public god that many worship by shouting and holding hateful signs. Honestly, someone form 1955 would find it appalling and crude and wonder at it.
Again, if we were merely more decent people at the heart of it and held to common sense and manners, there would be no need to over throw and shout and hate. Yet, we well meaning masses allow those with the most extreme opinions and it seems loudest voices stand for the majority and than we end in riots, and shouting and just ill behavior all round.
I know that we may never, as a people, be those well behaved conscientious people who think before we act or accept that we may not all believe the same, but I thought the reason for founding and growing this country was to live together in harmony of our differences. Yet, why can’t we when in the shared public sector of living have a unified code that is for all? Nothing based on religion or beliefs other than the belief that kindness, calm rational thought, and manners will always make for a better living environment? Privacy at home and public actions out in the world. It should matter little if I think one way and you another, if we are kind and considerate of one another than we could coexist. Yet, privacy and what is best left ‘at home’ is now the majority of what is on tv and media. Privacy is no longer as ‘news’ programs delve into for hours and days on end what so and so did with whom and how often. How does dragging it out and incessantly showing it make it any better? Can you imagine Walter Cronkite talking all day long about Tiger Woods and if he did or did not cheat on his wife and his opinion of it?
When thinking about this post I began to see how many ways I could break down the various ‘break downs’ in manners. Just the way we act in stores with sales help and to other customers is almost an entire post in its own right. We have become so demanding so needful of what we want right now at our time and pace and at the lowest price, be damned the economy, it doesn’t affect me! Not realizing, of course, that we are ALL the economy.
I know I am going back to the big box stores example, but Wal mart and its ilk is probably one of the worst things to happen to our country and the world. We have been taught to only want what is cheapest and easiest without caring about the local business and the physical landscape of our town. I don’t know how it was done so smoothly, but people honestly act as if it is not in their power and it is not their towns that are being taken over. How many more years before the majority of the American landscape is just a Wal-Mart and a few houses clustered about and the dead empty streets of downtown crumbling? All of these things lead to bad manners! For what is more selfish and ill mannered than demanding what you want at a low price no matter who is hurt or how it affects others?
And I think that is the root of manners today right there solved. To have manners is to think of others first. Plain and simple. There is no secret potion nor formula, it is merely think of the person next you BEFORE yourself. If we did that would we be chatting away on the cell phone and shouting at the sales girl that this is not the price you thought it should be? If we consider the consequences for the situations in public that make us angry before we act or voice or ‘opinion’ than we would be well on our way to returning manners and civility.
Now, that is the second point in manners. One’s opinion. WE have come to believe, today, that our opinion is like a great lump of gold or handful of diamonds. What we say  is so important that it needs to be shouted over others opinions, for it surely is more valuable. Of course, this is being said from someone who writes her opinion almost daily for others to read, but I don’t feel I shout them at others nor shove them down their throats. I think because we can so readily text and tweet and i.m. and call and share our opinions today without repercussion nor hearing others opinions that we have come to think we are the best thing since sliced bread!
Even so called ‘news’ programs are merely people shouting their opinions at one another. Where is the subjective manner driven world that allows a person on TV to state the facts of a news story and leave their opinion at home? There are entire news channels devoted to nothing BUT opinions. They shout and rant how right they are! The very epitome of rudeness. These are the sort of things that are on all the time on newsstands and on TV and the internet and we wonder at children’s bad behavior today? It seems the example is always a better learning tool than merely informing, so children go out and live in a world where there is shouting and ranting for news, people are pushing and screaming at one another in traffic, on phones, wanting more in stores, crashing through large wal mart with grouchy slovenly dressed people, wanting and needing and shouting their way through life. Is it any wonder the quiet civility of the past is gone? We have asked for it. We demanded to be heard and now we are all so busy shouting out our opinions that none our heard. WE must simply gather into our camps of shared opinions and shout the louder.
I do feel sometimes that we have raced back in time to the middle ages, tossing aside Boccaccio and Courtly manners and shouting, living in filth and mud, and clambering to be heard. Good bye centuries of collected knowledge of learning to live together. Hello screaming masses!
I don’t know if we could ever get back that sort of civility that existed because to do so we would have to give up some of our convenience. The ability to call anyone anytime at any minute. The chance to get that lower price on that product. The need to get your point across and dogmatically want it enforced upon others, these are such easy and luring prospects that most will opt out for that than to slow down, think, and act in a way that would be more pleasant for all. Perhaps we have gone over that brink. It is interesting that most of ill manners is simply fueled by the greed to want more and have more even though we rarely need half of what we get. How many years ago was it that none of us could contact anyone until we got home and picked up the phone? So, I am afraid, in some way, that manners have gone the way of the dinosaur. They cannot live and thrive in this climate of noise, incessant media, and selfish driven ‘me first’ mentality.
We want the pill to make us thin, the low cost without consequence to other people or our own town, we want the biggest fattest cheapest meat regardless to how the animal is treated, we want easy and instant. Well, we were told that is what we want and so we think we do, but do we really? Perhpas the process of making or doing the things we have so easily exchanged are part of living. It cost us more to have the instant life. We have to work more as we buy more of it. We give up on our towns and communities to have the big store where you can go and get it all cheap and fast, but maybe, just maybe, the time to go out into a community to get your needs met, meet your neighbors, or even prepare and make some of those things with a base set of ingredients IS living more than always getting what you want. Have we sold our actual living our actual LIFE away to make it easier for us? And what do we get with the ease? Are we happier as a society as a whole? Do we spend our extra time when not at work gleaned from the convenience of not having to do anything loving our family and sharing in our community?
I know and hope many of you out there would like a return to manners, but do you think you could (if you do not now) increase your own use of manners? I know I want to and always try to be more considerate than I have in the past. I sometimes cringe when I think of the old me and had I the chance would love to slap myself straight across the face and send myself to bed without any dessert.
Yet, we can move forward, we have to really, but will we move forward mindfully? Can we step into each day feeling we DO control it and want to change for the better: shop locally, let another cut in line, put off that phone call until you are at least in the car, smile to others, not care if this or that is on sale, but either do without or be kind and go and learn the names of the workers in the local shops? Give up our seat on buses to older people, gentleman to ladies? We can do it. Each of us are NOT actually controlled by the tv and the corporation, though we often act as we are. We DO NOT NEED the new flat screen TV or the latest video game console or the newest car or the biggest house nor to be inline first or to text and call our friends every minute about the simplest things, “I just went into the book store LOL” and so on. We CAN slow down and quietly take the world in at a pace we want. The modern world has allowed us the ability to have and make choices and yet we have become so mentally lazy that we would rather let the media tell us what to think. ‘Oh, we need that car, video game, TV, outfit,’ or ‘oh, we hate those people now and think ill of these people’. We CAN change, but will we?
A modern case in point of such a media happening is this Tiger Woods situation. I can’t but not hear about it. I should know nothing of it here in 1955, but good luck not hearing about it. Now, rather or not this person is guilty of adultery, why should it matter to all of us? I also heard he makes the majority of his insane wealth from sponsorships. So, here we live in a world where money is made by being allowed to become a commercial. What does that tell us about who we are? That commercials and advertising and fame drive our lives. Honestly, why should any of it matter. I don’t condone his behavior, but I also don’t know him nor his wife nor any of the circumstances. Yet, every ‘news’ program will be talking endlessly of it. WHY? Because, honestly, there we are again, in the middle ages milling about the gallows waiting for the blade to fall or the rope to swing so we can smile and beam at the death and destruction of our fellow man. “He thought he was better than us, Ha there you go fall and crash and burn!”
Have our lives become SO empty that the downfall of someone great (only made great by our own buying into it mind) takes a few more thoughts of our own pointless lives away from us? We can stop thinking for a moment about the job we hate and the messy house we must go home to and that wretched dinner to make, better buy more prepared food, the rude attitude I will receive at the store, oh I have to go buy this and that. We have allowed ourselves to fall into a life that is, at its roots, empty and shallow and though our mindful conscious bit of us try and peek out every so often, we can simply ignore it with the latest thing I can buy cheap, or the newest, or the latest scandal. We can silence that inner voice that knows better and really has our best interest at hand.
I am not sure why we feel the need to give up on our own lives and power so easily, but it seems this feeling of mindlessly caring about that cheap t-shirt or that scandal is more important than just slowing down and enjoying our own life! Buy less, use less, have more time, use that time to think, read do whatever you like and your life WILL be better. That is the great SECRET TO HAPPINESS, but our modern world will not let you ever think that. So, we continue to feed into the hate and need and greed and ill mannered way to our own demise and that of our children.  Really, having manners third point is being mindful or thoughtful or simply THINKING. Such behavior cannot coexist with the modern world the way it is because it would come about that we would begin to see our emptiness and bored attitude and feeling of sadness is simply tied into our pointless buying, spending, wasting of our time. Stop, talk to your  neighbor, share the cost of dinners with friends, buy less, mend what you have, work less, learn to make and sew and knit, share ideas and thoughts, read books from the past when things were a way you like and take what you can and implement it into your life now! Even personal style can belong to you, you don’t have to just covet the glamorous lifestyle of stars, make and buy lovely things and care for them. You don’t HAVE to wear jeans and a t-shirt everyday or to the store. Perhaps if you care for your appearance a little before you go to the store, you will see the polite and ready service you receive. No need to shout or push. Well dressed and groomed and mannered people often are very well treated. 
That is another aspect of our modern world, we must never want what is old, for if we covet something from the past it is simply packaged new and made a repro vintage object to buy. We long for the 1950’s because we want civility, calm and family but instead we buy a novelty toy or a book with old adverts and funny sayings and put it in the pile of growing items and stuff. And you know what, you don’t feel better because it isn’t the kitschy past we want, it is the smiling mother and wife, the happy and smart dad with his pipe and answers to questions because he reads books instead of just watching tv, a warm meal made to please you because someone cared enough about it, the smile and chat with your neighbor because you both care how the other is and what they are up to. And you know what? YOU CANNOT PACKAGE THAT. It is NOT easy, but better for the effort. You can’t sell happy lives even though everyday we are told that is what we are doing.
So, here again I have learned in 1955 another element we all long for and would love to get back simply lost at the root of commercialism and consumerism. Yes, it’s easy, but does it make you happy? Are you happy right now? Do you feel good inside when you have pushed your way in front and shouted to get a better price? Do you smile when you get home from the big chain knowing you save 10 bux but drove another nail in the coffin of the local business and your neighborhoods appearance and supported yet another dollar to communist china and allowed that little girl to make your shoes so you can have another pair for less money?Are you glad you can call someone and tell them what you are doing while you are driving? Does it make you feel good and happy with yourself? I think quite honestly who could say in many circumstances we, as a modern people, are not a happy people and therefore we must take it out on others. Certainly it is their fault. And that is how we get to the fourth element of Manners ACCOUNTABILITY. It isn’t my fault I am unhappy, it must be because I want to buy more, that is on sale, the salesperson is so stupid, that idiot on the road doesn’t know how to drive, that stupid waitress didn’t get my order right! I am fat, Sad, Broke, In Dept, Lonely, Bored, but it is not MY fault.
To have good manners one MUST be accountable for their actions and thoughts. Is it really the salesperson’s fault that you cannot find what you are looking for?
I have also come to find that many of the ‘secrets’ that that snake oil salesmen on TV sell for the thinner you, happier you, is really rather a simple solution. YOU take control and eat less, buy less etc. I do think there are many who could have a calmer richer life if they only CHOSE correctly. Parents will complain about their children and the noise and chaos of today and then buy them all computers, phones, video games, as if they have NO CONTROL, “Well, I can’t NOT buy these things, right?” That is what it has come to we HAVE to buy. There is NO question, we just get up in the morning trudge off to our hateful jobs to make more money to pay down the debt. But we DON’T have to! We can slow down. We could work less if we do without things or maintain the things we do have.
I always use the example of taking a person from 1955 and dropping them in Starbucks. Can you imagine the look of horror on their face when they realize a 10 cent cup of coffee (in our current money) is 5 dollars or in their adjusted rate of expense in 1955 a 35 dollar cup of coffee! But, we do it. We spend it. It’s easy. It is all so easy, but, another lesson learned form 1955: is easier better or does it make you happier? Most of the time it is not, it does not.
Even in 1955, when our modern world really began, you were constantly shown in magazines and TV this is better, your life will be better if you use this electric stove or own this toaster etc. You were not as bombarded by it as today, because there was far less tv being watched and fewer outlets for it, but it was starting. That is why I often now say that the 1950’s are a touchstone to our modern world. WE can look back and really see ourselves in them, but there they have a clean slate. They have not yet gone down the rabbit hole or through the looking glass after Alice. They still have a chance; they still have choices. So, let us look back, it is easy enough, then let us make choices. We may not be able to change all those around us, but by being groomed, kind, and well mannered, you will be surprised how those around you respond. Instead of trying to be ONE OF THE CROWD and the COOL KID, why not make yourself happy and enjoy life and see how soon you look like a unique individual that others will want to emulate. “How can she be smiling? I mean look at what she is wearing, she is driving that car? Oh, that outfit is so last year’” Because, when it comes down to it, the nicest most expensive clothes and cares are merely you trying to belong to some group, but do you honestly admire the tenets of that group? Does its philosophy really make you happy. Isn’t it better to worry LESS about what others think of you and THINK MORE about others so you can be kind and considerate and make yourself happy in your own style? It is doable and so worth it. I cannot tell you how much happier I have been this year than ever before in my life.
Manners may be gone from the day to day, but we are still in control of our lives and can still set examples for our children, friends and strangers. Let’s say goodbye to the endless grown babies that want what they want when they want it and to ridicule and taunt others for their not being ‘cool’ and really begin to live our own lives fully and happy. When you do that you will be surprised how easy it is to allow another in front of you in line, to hold a door, to say excuse me and please and thank you, for you will really mean it. You will be happy and honestly care for those around you.
Now, i do like to always get down from my soapbox and then share some practical tips. Here are some fun Christmas ones!
First, here is the recipe for those lovely pies I pictured in an earlier pie recipes (click on image and it should open large enough to read.)
Here are the instructions for those darling pie tin decorations.
decorations how to 2 decorations how to 1
xmas candy There are so many candy recipes that I think I will leave those for my next post.


  1. Thank you for another well thought out post.

    One of the (many) things that quietly annoys me in my day to day life is how we treat our fellow man.

    When I arrive at work, I like to buy my breakfast there. Waiting patiently in line I see many people trying to cut in, or just barking their order to the women who work behind the counter.

    At the end of the day, I am there to do my job, which happens to be sitting at a desk working on a computer. That does not make me any better than the ladies whose role it is to cook and serve our breakfast and lunches. Yet some people seem to think it does.

    At the end of the day, we are all human. Whether you are unemployed, managing director, catering staff, or homemaker, we all deserve to be treated with respect.

    Rant over..

  2. Metherer-it is so true. We seem to always want to be the 'better one' in most cases. Even in the old days of servants and more rigid class structure a truly 'well-bred' person was kind to their servants, never forgetting them on holidays and treating them with kind words. Such an atitude should be for any of us when we are at the other end of the counter or table or in lines at shops.
    James-I blush at your words and thank you. I have to say again it is an honor and a pleasure to have a gentleman among we ladies and our 'aprons'.

  3. Brava! Brilliant post! I know exactly what you are talking about with the crazy untamed children, I'm sure everyone knows! It's sad that we live in a society where the children think they know everything and the parents are these mindless idiot drones that don't know anything. I like your philosophy about changing yourself. If everyone changes themselves to be a better person then we CAN and ARE changing the world! You have inspired me this year also as I'm sure you have inspired many to live in the past, and with you I have learned and grown and now I have a better concept of understanding, so I thank you. I used to think that I would NEVER have kids because this world is so angry and hateful but then I thought, if the good people of the world aren't having children and the selfish grown children keep popping them out then how will the world change? How will anyone have a good set example to grow and be grown ups? Well, I plan on having children in a year or two, and I plan on raising them to be more old-fashioned than modern. I don't want to raise children that live superficial empty lives so they buy more and care about themselves and others less. I don't think the world needs to be worried about getting old and dying. Isn't it funny that some people haven't figured out that death is inevitable? I WANT to get old and I WANT to die someday, could you imagine how awful it would be to live forever? Thank you for the fantastic post!

  4. wow...if I could give a cyber standing ovation I would. What an inspiring (and much needed) post. As faithful as I've been to this blog honestly there are still parts of that post that hit home for me. I know there are definitely parts of my life that could be more fulfilled and "whole" if I just shut off the chatter and noise of the world, and stop trying to fill the void by throwing a bunch of money at it. But, thanks to a lot of self reflection, your blog, and also just putting my foot down and DOING it, these last couple of years have really been great for me. I'm less stressed, less fearful of the world (I can't watch the news anymore, it's too gory), and feel more in control than I have in my entire life (well..I'm only 26 years in but still!!).

    You know, the other thing that has really been bothering me especially this year with the economy...I see on craigslist, ebay, and even television families reaching out to "kind strangers" and "volunteers" to help "give their kids a good Christmas", all while telling their tales of woe. You read further down expecting to see needs for coats or blankets, and instead you see that their wish list includes ipods and computers and deluxe cell phones and expensive toys....really? Seriously? Things are THAT bad where now to have a "good" Christmas, you HAVE to have those things for your children even when you can't afford to pay the heating bills and your mortgage? I grew up in a VERY poor family with a single mother, and there were plenty of Thanksgivings and Christmases where we were thrilled just to have a turkey on the table, and we the children voluntarily told our mom we didn't want presents from the church so that "needy" families could get them instead. The thought that there are this many families out there using the current economy as an excuse for handouts for WANTS, not NEEDS, to the point where even MSNBC is talking about it, makes me incredibly sick to my stomach. This current economy really just makes it clear how much these gadgets and what used to be considered "luxury" items are considered necessary supplements to a "good" life. It's ridiculous, and I'm so glad that there are other people (like you, 50's gal), that are feeling the same way that I do. I'm all for pulling the plug and getting joy and memories back into my life!!

  5. Sarah-Thank you so much for your kind words. I am glad you are beginning to see the control of your life and the happiness of simplicity.
    Isn't it AMAZING what people think are necessities today? Honestly?
    I did not know that people on craigslist an such were pleading for ipods and such for their children. How about taking this time in this economy to teach yourself AND your child that holidays are about family and being together. That you don't need THINGS to make you happy but PEOPLE. I was agahst when the economy first 'fell' under our last president when his solution was 'to go out and shop'! I couldn't belive my ears, even then and I hadn't taken my journey to 1955 yet.
    I am not sure if we will ever change as a whole in this country, but I hope those well meaning and who care, as we do, can continue to change our own lives and help our by example let others see the pure joy of living your life and not mindlessly plugging into media and always wanting things. Our these generations when they are old going to say, "Oh, I remember the good ole days, we watched tv 10 hours a day, played video games and went shopping, Ahh the memories".
    It is interesting, too, that Mrs. P mentioned children. We have not wanted children for some time but this year has brought me the closest to actually considering it in a long time. I think were my husband and I to have THAT discussion seriously, I would need to make a fairly specific schedule of 2 years or so to see if I could world towards what would be helpful for me to be the best mother I could. Starting a fund for college/school. Working on any major projects around the house to be done BEFORE a child is in it. Planning and preparing. Being mindful and thoughtful seems to help every aspect of our lives.
    I am glad we apron Revolutionaries are happy to unplug and plug into our own minds, communities and families. How easy could it be to take away one tv night and replace with board games or reading aloud or acting out plays? How easy could it be to take one shopping spree a month out of your day, consider what you would have spent and stick that in your pin money jar? It is doable and we can all get our lives back to ourselves.
    Let us do it!

  6. What a smart, well-written post.
    As a parent who does not have cable TV or any video games (by choice), I find that it is other parents who make comments about my children being deprived. In the evening we read books, play board games, do homework, work on projects, and just have fun spending time together. We spend a lot of time out doors having fun & adventures. Why is it that families seem to be judged by whether or not their children are up on pop culture, and not on their manners, kindness, and intellect. When my daughter was in kindergarten last year, some other girls in her class called her a baby because she did not know what "High School Musical" was and had not seen it. These are the same girls that had manicure/pericure parties for their 5th birthdays. Do not get me started on the state of children's birthday parties where the average venue seems to run $600+ dollars. We coose not to participate in school birthdays where 30+ kids seem to be invited to parties every weekend. We opt for family birthdays at home with a homebaked cake and a Mom-made party.

    *Kindred Spirit*

  7. Jeanne-good for you! Aren't the ideals and situations in High School Musical a bit too adult for a 5 year old? Just an average commercial can seem racy by 1955 standards that is for sure. It seems somewhere along the early 1960's on Madison Avenue some one muttered, 'sex sells' and it has been one long ride on that one note to today. I find it very hard to think about raising a child in the modern world, I think that is why I keep waffling on the idea.

  8. What a really interesting post, so many points that i totally agree with. 2 i want to mention in particular are to do with "belittling his race or colour" and the guide for children.

    Where i live i still here people being openly racist. They think it is just an innocent comment they are making, but to someone else it is very offensive. They don't see anything wrong with saying whatever they like without taking into consideration the feeling of others. I am half Chinese, and i have had people i know say the word "chink" in front of me and think it was perfectly acceptable. And when i have spoken up they look at me as if i was some kind of alien. How terrible is that?

    When my fiance and i finally have children, i would like to raise them in the way that your amazing book recommends. I grew up with a very old-fashioned dad who told me to sit straight at the table, always say please and thank you, respect my elders and all this had stood me in good stead all my life. He was strict, but i thank him every day for making sure i don't turn into some of the spoilt , rude, egotistical people that i meet on my travels. Now my fiance on the other hand thinks that we should give our children as much freedom as possible to do what they want. Take the example of his niece. She is a wonderful child who i love to bits, but she does seem a little wild, if that is the right word to use! She tears around the place, no matter where she is, pokes around, shouts and generally does things that i never would do when i was younger. Her parents have not been as strict as i think they should have been, as it will be difficult for her to grow out of this i think. Sometimes i would like to say to her, sit still at the table and eat your food without throwing a tantrum, but i know the rest of the family would think i was mad. I am predicting that my fiance and i may have a few arguments about how we raise out children, but i am determined to show him that this is the best way to raise children, so they can be model citizens. That is why i am so grateful that you wrote this post, that there are other people out there who feel the same way, thank you so much!

  9. This is one of the best blog posts I have ever read!! Thank you so much posting this.

  10. Stefani Valentine-I agree with you and also am a bit worried as well. Do make sure you and your fiance' iron out the details of child rearing before hand. I think having both parents on the same page would be so imperative to a healthy rearing, of course this is advice given from someone with no children, but I do think were you persistent and backed yourself up with good points, your fiance' could see the merits of making a child mind itself, have good manners and deal with the world appropriately, therefore making a better adult. I am glad you liked the post.
    Angelena-WOW, thank you for that wonderful comment. I am glad to see so many impassioned by manners and the lack there of in today's society. Obviously we need to revisit this and discuss further, non?

  11. I LOVED this post. I read aloud the "don'ts" lists to my kids and they were smiling. Many of those things I am always drillng into them.

    As I have said before, we do not have TV. My eldest son has a DS, but he is only allowed to have it for an hour at a time as a reward for extra good behavior (i.e. an A+ on a test, doing the dishes without being told, cleaning his room and helping his sister clean hers without being told). I do allow my kids to watch videos on the VCR, but I have seen them and preapproved them. They also only watch so much of that and then it is off with the thing.

    I have been surprised on more than one occasion by strangers complimenting me on my kids and their behavior. They say things like "wow, a REAL mom" or "you can tell you stay home with your kids", etc. My pediatrician has said such things to me many times. She loves that I stay home and am determined to make sure my kids have manners and know more than the words to the latest Hannah Montana song.

    Since getting rid of the TV, I have noticed my kids manners have improved, they have interest in a wider variety of things to do. They love to play games with us, read aloud, play school together, etc. My daughters best friend is "mad" at her mom right now cause she didn't get her mom's old iphone when the mom got a new one. The kid is EIGHT!!! My daughter is THRILLED right now because I bought a latch hook rug kit of a butterfly and she wants to work on it all the time.

    We were looking at some blogs I visit today, and I showed her a video of SuperKawaiiMama. She said "Mom, she is so pretty." "I think so too." I responded. She said, "Makes Miley Cyrus look like a creep." (at this point I wanted to stand and cheer!!!)

    I am trying HARD to show her vintage clothing and hair. Share old style music, read books and such. I shudder to think of her growing up to be some scuzy teen in emo clothes chewing gum texting on her phone and ignoring the friends she is with cause it is cooler to text than to talk....

  12. To be bold, I will say that sin started in the Garden of Eden with Adam. There are many Biblical examples where great men of faith came up short in raising their children. Some were spoiled by their parents, such as Sampson. The consequences were the same then as they are today. My point is not a Biblical lesson, but a realization that there is nothing new under the sun.

    In our current history, it was the roaring twenties that started the downturn of manners and family life. Young women smoked, wore dresses that were too revealing, bobbed their hair, and spoke like the "fish monger." They frequented speakeasies. Young men pushed the "envelope" as well. The behavior of the young men and women shocked their Victorian parents and grandparents much in the same way they did in the next generations. What the previous generation did in moderation, the next generation did in excess. We see the results today.

    The decade of the 50's was the swan song of the Puritan ethics and lifestyle. The essence of the previous decades was present, but it was not deeply rooted. It was too easily removed.

    There has been a assault on our culture from many fronts. We have been influenced by movies, television, magazines, literature, music, fashion, sports, education, and employment. It was incremental. In the name of "progress," we have been duped into a society that we didn't necessarily want.

    Raising godly children in today's society isn't for the weak. The failings of our culture seep into our daily lives whether we like it or not, especially with raising children. It is easy when they are young. It is the teen years that divide the "men" from the "boys" in parenting skills--and fortitude. I know this from many years of observation and experience in raising a large family.

    It is important that parents work together. They must be "on the same page." They must have life standards that do not change. They must model these standards. They must discipline their children in love. They must not accept anything to come into their lives that would undermine their standards. They must internalize maintaining these standards on their own. Family is more important than friends. We did these things with our children--and more. As adults, they have maintained these standards and are continuing them with their children.

    No Idle Hands

  13. No Idle Hands-I am glad that we can, here in our community, agree and still have some differences and still want the same end result. I feel that even those who are not christians should and would benefit from manners and teaching respect. That is not to say anything against god or christianity, but I honestly feel,again, that despite such differences we can all feel the same goal of accountability and kindess to our fellow man.
    In the case of people finding the new generations appaling, it was not only the 1920's. Even during the mid victorian times, the older generation was appalled at the new dancing. When the Waltz was beginning to be danced in polite society it was seen as the unravelling of goodness. Before hand, dancing involved lines and couples only touching briefly throughout, but the waltz put a couple together in close proximeity. This sounds silly now, but then it was truly seen as a disintegration of society. Ladies also smoked, particularly in upper classes, as early as the 1870's though the older generation found it unseemly and not lady like. I feel that rather a woman has her hair short or long or if her skirt is long or a reasonable length (not 1960's short in other words) one can still be a fine upstanding person who is polite and kind to others. Although to our current times it could look at the 1920's as a real break, it was often the younger generation seemed to 'break' the previous generations rules. Now, I am not making excuses, but I feel that in today's modern society a certain level of personal freedom SHOULD go hand in hand with manners and personal responsibility. I am all for clean well groomed people who represent respect for themselves through their appearance and how they treat one another, I feel that has gone on the wayside. Yet, though I respect an individuals right to their particular choice of religion, I also want to feel that we are inclusive to all. So, if there is a young girl who is not christian say, I would want her to feel equally that she should be proud of herself in her dress and actions to others.
    I think such a life is hard work in today's society rather christian or not but also worth while.
    I don't want this to seem as an affront to you or to sound as if I disagree with you, only that I do feel I want to include all religions and practices with the intent of trying to regain civility and goodness and conscientious actions. Does that make sense? I want to show that we can respect one anothers differences yet still show that we all want the same outcome. Well behaved individuals who repsect one anothers opinons while holding true to common decency amongst our fellow man.
    I hope I am coming off clear and not in opposition to what you are saying. We may find that many people want the same outcome regardless of their own personal beliefs and that is a good thing, as it shows we can co exist with differnt personal ideals while still sharing a common goal for social communal goals of personal pride, grooming, and manners.
    I hope this makes sense as you are great contributor to our blog and community here and I would HATE to offend.

  14. I forgot to say that i would love this book, i'm trying to find it online and can only seem to find the one that has been updated for modern readers. Do you have any suggestions where else i could find it? I live in the UK so it would be easier if there was something online.
    Many thanks.

  15. Stefani-here is a 1956 copy without dust jacket for 9 dollars American on ebay. You can ask if they do overseas ship. Here is the link it is a buy it now:

    Good luck!

  16. Actually Stefani, I checked and they have the same book by the same seller so it's about 6 pounds with free shipping, I would get over that asap and get your great book on etiquette! Good luck!

  17. Love this wonderful post. You're truly so insightful, and compelling - you make it seem so simple and that the "good old days" are only a major attitude adjustment away, but still obtainable. Love it. :)

  18. Like you, I don't wish to go back to discrimination, and lack of rights, but I completely agree about manners and just plain consideration of others. A bit more care in our personal appearance would be a nice change too.
    I love your blog. It always makes my day!

  19. Thank you Kristen and Spinnakersu. That is why I keep realizing how much the 1950's are really a touchstone or a very real modern means to a return to civility. By the time we reached the 1950's we had gone thorugh two wars, the carefree 20's the Depression of the 30's so many people were just disullisoned with the past. Yet, the return home became a mix of modern things and ideas,the concept that we SHOULD all be equal rather our skin color or religious affiliation, yet we wanted, on some level, a return to home and civility that had once been a normal part of the 19th century but really began erroding away by mid victorian times with the increase of production and industrial revolution. That is why I really thing then we had the chance to meld to two togethert. To take the modern ideas of freedom and equality and mix it with manners and decorum and of course style. Full skirts, men and ladies in hats, gloves all mingled with new technology and modern thinking. If we could use this time as a starting point for our own modern world to try and meld the two we COULD have civility, manners, style AND equality and fairness and still feel rather modern.

  20. Another homerun post! I like how you make the distinction of not only being held accountable for our actions, but for our thoughts as well. We (society as a whole) are so quick to want to blame everyone else for our problems, and are usually the last to take a hard look at ourselves to see what part we could have played in whatever problems we have.

    I do think simple courtesy is lacking today; some places around the country are worse than others...rural areas seem to be less "sullied" by rude mindsets...and much of it stems from the sense of entitlement that's so pervasive today. But to be fair I can't lump all young people into the same basket....some emo kids are quite polite and take meticulous care with their appearance, even though their costume of choice differs from the mainstream. Personally, I'd rather see a well-put together goth or emo kid than someone who looks like they haven't bathed or changed their clothes in days. ;)

    But I think (hope) the tiny seeds of change are starting to be planted...I think this recession has made a lot of people rethink their priorities, and the last couple of years have seen shows like "Nanny 911" and "The World's Strictest Parents" gain popularity because people are realizing something isn't working and are looking for answers. Parents are seeing the consequences of being their child's friend versus their parent.

    And you're right, we're not a happy people. I don't know figures of how many people these days seek counseling and antidepressent medication, but I'll bet anything it's a lot higher than just a couple of decades ago!

  21. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    My children are generally well behaved, but I was looking for something a bit more "picky" and this is it! Wonderful post!

  22. Hi 50's gal,

    I was unclear. I was referring totally to the Old Testament, not as a religious reference, but as a historical/literary reference. I am sorry for the confusion.

    I attended public school during the 1950's. Teachers were required to read from the Bible and pray every day with the students. My state was, and is, a rather liberal state, and, even then, most teachers either didn't bother or complied as quickly possible. The exception was my 6th grade teacher. She dutifully read one Psalm every day, without fail. She was Jewish. So were many other teachers and students. It was no big deal to me then or now. Her actions only stand out because she was the exception to the rule.

    I do not equate having personal standards and ethics as being a specific religious choice. While most religions have standards and ethics that are specific to their beliefs, a person may have personal standards and ethics without religious belief.

    Some religious groups, such as the Amish, have specific dress codes, but most religious groups do not, although the demographics in the US is changing. Beyond the obvious, it would be difficult for me to know a person's religious beliefs by the way they dressed.
    Although there are exceptions, most young girls today prefer to dress in the latest fashion rather than being motivated by a personal belief system. It is the same for young men as well.

    I taught in the public school system for many years. There is no lack of encouraging personal pride for the student. When it comes to their clothing, the students were *very* vocal. They dressed the way they wanted to and were "proud" of it and they let you know it. The teachers were reluctant to advise a student that their clothing conflicted with the board approved dress code. In most cases, they wore what they wanted and how they wanted, and their parents approved. They were proud without manners.

    No Idle Hands

  23. Oh, I am so glad you commented again. I worried that perhaps my response to you seemed odd. It was only that I know sometimes people can read more into things than is there and I just wanted to make sure that we could see that all, despite religious choice, could work towards a public standard of better grooming and therefore more likely, kinder and more polite.
    That is so interesting that in public schools they would read from the bible. I do think today, in the attempt to make it fair for all, that sometimes far too big a fuss is made over christian words and symbols. Why, for instance, should it matter to those who are not Christian if there is a large cross in a public place or the ten commandments, and as well to Christians, if there were some other form, say a jewish quote I don't know, put in a public forum, could that not just as well be a personal expression in a public way that is not making a great statement one way or the other. We have been programed to be so responsive, often in a rude manner, to anything such as that. We are always ready for the 'affront' and therefore, by our actions of offense, in fact offend more!
    I certainly believe aobut the public school worrying more about how a child 'feels about himself' than what he wears or honestly what he knows. I sometimes wonder, why public schools cannot focus more on strict education. Who cares is billy or susie feels good or happy about who they are, if they cannot read nor be prepared with an education, they will feel bad for sure in the future! But, don't get me started on the public education system in this country! It seems to just represent today some of the things I have come to be upset about in our own country. Our feelings of privedlege and atitude that we don't have to 'bother' to be smarter or more economically sound because somehow it is our 'right' to just be #1 (which of course in reality we surely are not) Our educational scoring is a joke world wide, our foreign relations/policy is often barbaric etc. But, I digress...
    I am glad that you cleared up what you were expressing and I am glad that I did not offend in my misunderstanding. I do think we Apron Revolutionaries might make a small dent in the world with our return to politeness and grooming and education and skill. We shall be quietly proud WITH manners and set examples by our skills.

  24. I loved the videos and I cannot wait to show them to my husband! He works in retail and he doesn't remember the last time a child asked for something and said please. And he notices that the parents don't correct them because they think whatever their children do is cute.

    I see ill manners all the time in stores, in movie theaters, in concerts..I do encounter polite gentlemen who open the door for me, and I'm always surprised because it's so rare nowadays!

    I've noticed lately how so many people say that the 50's were idealized. Well, perhaps in a way, but then maybe our current times are idealized as well. Thanks to your blog, I've been rethinking my ways and my lifestyle, and I think I will do things differently especially since 2010 is coming soon and we want to try for children a few months from now.

  25. Thank you so much for posting this. As the father of a baby boy, I am concerned about the environment he will be exposed to in the "post modern" world, where some things have greatly improved, such as tolerance for others and for other cultures, but other common sense manners seem to have been discarded, along with men's hats and women's white gloves (I was born in 1960 and remember these things from my childhood). What I have noticed today is that children don't usually call adults "Mr." or "Ms." (Mrs. and Miss seem to have gone away), and there is a tendency among many parents to insist that their children call an adult friend by his or her first name, or "Mr. [first name of adult]" which is almost as bad. If you say anything about this to your post-modern adult friends, they either look at you with confusion or they are insulted. I miss the old formality of my childhood. Maybe we can bring some of it back again? I will certainly try with my son by example.

  26. I am happy to see the positive response to this post. I think it is safe to say, regardless of what the reasons are (more technology, post 60's, more ease/laziness) that people are for the most part less polite. I am glad to see that others wish a change and in this we certainly have some power. If we try to curtail and counter every rude moment with a smile and polite response, it may become infectious. At least it will allow us in our own little sphere to try and cultivate a general feeling of politeness and consideration. Another tenet and guideline for our Apron Revolution, long live the Apron!

  27. I've finally gotten to watch the videos and can comment. My first thought is that etiquette books, whether from 1955 or 2009, are written as an ideal. While it would be very civil for everyone to follow them exactly as written I think few people do. They're more of a reference guide to find specific information, like the proper note to write to someone who has lost a loved one. But I agree we've strayed quite far from the ideal etiquette from any century.

    The video of the children in the cafeteria was charming. Brought me back to my elementary school days, despite mine being in the 70's. What I found disturbing was the comments about the videos on the u-tube page. I understand some may find them funny and poke fun at them but the comments were just terrible. Calling the makers of the videos Nazis? A perfect example of how people feel entitled to write anything they want on the web and how teaching appropriate behaviors is considered by some as taking away one's personal freedom. And the language. You'd think u-tube would monitor it.

    But the good news I can share is my little corner of the world children still say thank you, please, clean up their place after they eat, etc. Parents volunteer to help in the elementary lunch room so I've experienced this first hand. It's awfully sweet. They look up at you all wide eyed. My children's friends say thank you, Mrs. Hxxxxxx and the others just a shy thank you. I don't know for sure about the hand washing but I know the school required the kids to use hand sanitizer before they leave the classroom to go to the lunch room. It's more of a germ defying tactic but I like it anyway. One thing that is a little Mr. Bungle is the kids are so rushed, only 25 minutes to get to the cafeteria, go thru the lunch line, and eat. The kids don't wait for each other but rush out to recess because the lunch monitors hurry them out as soon as they're finished.


  28. Great “do not” list, I will try to impress them into son, I have to admit I’ve forgotten some of them. I can proudly say that the childrens’ “not to” list is checked all through at our home. I feel like a proud mother right now and will continue working on the adult “not to” list. He’s 16, so he will soon be a man. He is nice to others, and to girls his own age and small children, so I suppose it will be easy. :)

    Generally, in Denmark we are polite in public and generally children (and adults too) behave. And we can put our babies outside to sleep in a baby carriage. If a child misbehaves or an adult acts impolite in a queue all other people standing nearby would stare that person down and perhaps someone would make a remark. When I compare this to the US I feel quite proud on the behalf of my country. I think that politeness and good manners spread like an infection, so we, the Apron Revolution, might better get started. :)

    The other day son’s music class spent a Christmas concert and one of the boys, of other ethnic race, was wearing a T-shirt saying: “I’m from Cph our dirty tart”. It is common that they form gangs, act violent, shout swear words at others, and think they are tough doing so. Fortunately, son also thinks it is bad style. But I am afraid that this bad behavior spread, so let’s get started and show them some good manners.

    Danish Christmas hugs

  29. I appreciated your post. I was born in 1955, so please remember that I speak from the viewpoint of an earlier era.

    Concerning religion and manners, certainly religion isn't required for good manners, but it does seem that treating others in a civil manner has often developed from a religious framework, and when that framework is tossed out, good manners are lost as well. My husband, born in 1952, remembers his elementary school principal playing a recording of the Lord's prayer over the intercom every morning. I think an atmosphere of respect for a higher power, a love-thy-neighbor standard, influences treating other people with respect.

    If you don't mind reading a supporting view for this idea, here is an excerpt from an article by John A. Howard, "Culture Makes or Breaks an Ordered Free Society":

    "It was Christendom that delivered a society that was basically honest, lawful, conscientious, cooperative, kind, helpful and productive. People under the age of 75 can’t begin to imagine what life in America was like prior to World War II.

    As an 8-year-old child I would walk my younger brother at night half a mile across a park and the railroad tracks to the Community House for a children’s program. My parents hadn’t the slightest concern for our safety. At the public grade school I attended, the day began in an all-school assembly with a prayer, a patriotic song and a reading of some uplifting message. Occasionally, our family would go into Chicago, customarily leaving the car unlocked. If the driver, forgetfully left the key in the ignition, the key, the car and any packages were there when we returned. In my company of the First Infantry Division in World War II, almost everybody had two parents or one had died. Divorce was rare in those days and a source of embarrassment. It was assumed that people belonged to a church or synagogue.

    Since the patterns of behavior which prevailed were rooted in religion, any effort to weaken or revoke any of the prescribed standards had a tough go, because it was simply taken for granted that God was more important than anything else."

    I've enjoyed your site.


  30. I just read the last part of this brilliant blog post, and I also have to say: you are a clever woman! :)

    Do you really behave like that in the US? I'm chocked to learn. If people behave like this, how do they come back to that shop again? Returning would not be possible in Denmark.

    Am I happy? Yes, I think I am. My health is good, I've got a great marriage, a well-behaved son with lots of friends, we have lots of friends and can make and repair everything ourselves. In fact I don't want anything else, except more time and less work. I would love to be a homemaker you know. :)

    I've told myself and my family to sometimes stop and tell yourself that life is good. The Danes are the happiest people in the world and Oprah loves us, but there are so many facets she does not know about. E.g. that Denmark is the most expensive country in Europe. Our houses, cars, tax, food, clothes - everything, is very expensive. So we work hard, but I think we are good at appreciating the small things in life, like ...

    Here I sit in front of the pc, my DH and best friend are watching TV together, son is in the basement with three friends playing his new x-box games he got for Christmas and I am reading your blog. Yes, life is good. :)

    DH and I have agreed to buy nothing (or as little as possible) in 2010, and to clear out what we don't use, sell it or give it to charity. And he has not read your blog, but I cannot agree more. In fact I look forward to clearing the clutter and using what we have. I got an lovely advent calendar, a gift each day in December, from DH for my birthday. So I will not need to buy neither soap nor creams and lotions for the next year to come. I have a personal stock. ;)

    I'll go watch a movie with the boys.
    Have a lovely Christmas, dear. :)

    Danish e-hugs

  31. This is excellent, as usual, and really, I cannot agree with you more. Though I'm a fairly feisty gal of Irish descent with very strong opinions, I do wish that those who disagree could do so politely, disseminate their opinion in a temperate manner—without shouting one another down, at the very least. It's rude, condescending, and frankly, stressful for all within earshot. Samuel Adams was a firebrand, but he was also polite and acted with humility toward those with whom he disagreed (except, perhaps, George III, who at any rate wanted the heads of BOTH Adamses on a plate!).

    The loss of manners really saddens me to no end...That list you have shared could be given to many children and adults who would be shocked to find that even the young were expected to adhere to such standards at any time in our history. Metherer's comment about the way some treat those whose job it is to serve as cashiers or cooks brings to memory similar things I saw at my old office (maybe we worked at the same place!). Does this rudeness get the job done faster, or make either person, including the one with the bad attitude, feel better? Really? It seems to me that bitterness and rudeness only serve to create more. Succumbing to these lesser impluses to behave poorly toward our fellows is like fertilizing weeds.

    That said, you mentioned people waving signs and such. Now, I've no idea what you are referring to, but I sit today and look at the headlines which I'm to work on, headlines about people in Iran protesting the way their 'leaders' are railroading them; headlines about Cuban, Chinese, and Korean dissidents being jailed simply because they cry for liberty, and their families being jailed, raped, or otherwise abused because a family member has the audacity to call for freedom; Americans in the past who peacefully marched with signs protesting racist behaviour, and similarly peaceful, sign-bearing marchers in the present who simply seem to fear a departure from our founding principles and a too-powerful government encroaching upon the liberties they hope to preserve for their posterity.

    Indeed, such things have quite a provenance in America especially, starting with our Founders prior to and during the Revolution (Saturday, for example, was the anniversary of a 1776 tea tax protest in Atlanta, attended by 200 people). I'm a student of the Revolution period and those involved, and manners were quite important at that time as well. Yet these same men, blue-blooded plantation and shop owners and professors and lawyers, eventually came to realize that in order to live freely, they had to take further tea parties, protests, newspaper writing and pamphleteering, and so forth, even hangings in effigies, until it finally came to war. The few times such protests grew violent (as in the case of governor's mansions being sacked) many of the leaders of the time, including Sam Adams, spoke vehemently against the wanton violence, destruction, and mood of anarchy. THAT, certainly, is not the American way.

    All I am trying to say is that such protests are in the blood of Americans especially, but all mankind, when their God-given liberties are attacked or when they believe such is happening; and so long as those protests are temperate, non-violent, and non-anarchical, I have no problem with them and don't see them as a problem at all, whether or not I agree with those involved. It's when those with grievances real or imagined begin to destroy things, people, property in malicious and riotous behaviour that I will condemn them, and perhaps that's what you meant. People do have the right to disagree, protest, and address grievances; of course, if they do so politely, they're more likely to be sympathetically heard and considered, too!

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  34. This post is beautifully written, excellent choice of words. I agree wholeheartedly, our society and indeed our world has become increasingly vulgar. Sure, there were offenses in the past, humanity has never been without it's wars and excesses. However, I feel that at least in history, stepping out of line had consequences, people felt a deeper sense of honor and self-respect that would keep them from falling into certain temptations or attitudes, everyone seemed to think twice before committing a faux pas. Nowadays we see this sort of behavior rewarded on TV with fame, reality shows totally dedicated to glorifying the seediest sorts of choices. It's repulsive, and yet people are proud of this sort of thing, it's a shame. All respect has been eliminated, respect for manhood, for womanhood and even for childhood, worst of all. The sexualization of children is appalling, I can hardly buy my 6 year old daughter clothes without being in shock half the time, and I'm not a religious conservative by any means, but I am a person concerned for our society and who enjoys good manners because I believe it helps humanity keep itself in line. Kids need to be kids, men need to be men and women need to be women. What did "progressive liberation" bring us but slavery toward the dollar, consumerism, unrealistic body images, superficiality, addictions, etc.?


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