If the waitress is well trained, it is but rarely that she need be spoken to, as it is her affair to watch out if the water or butter or anything else is needed by anyone at the table. It is a pretty definite rule that no guest should ask the waitress for anything, but should address any such request to her hostess. An exception might be made to this rule in case such request would cause embarrassment; for instance, the waitress might have forgotten to place an extra knife or to pour any water; In this case it would then be all right to just whisper to the waitress as she passed near by rather than to call attention to the fact before the whole table. It is conceded that the mistress, not the man, of the house must give all commands and orders to the maid; otherwise, it might cause embarrassment, and misunderstanding.
As an example, I recall an experience at a dinner at which X was a guest: A visitor, who was sitting on the right of the host was seemingly very fond of the entree (mushroom timbales) and remarked that she preferred these lighter dishes to the more heavy roasts, whereupon the host asked the waitress to serve her with another timbale. The waitress, knowing there were no more in reserve, endeavored to appear as though she had forgotten the order. The man of the house, however, did not let the matter rest, but in rather a pompous fashion, again ordered the extra serving. He was much embarrassed when told that there were no more. The rule is a pretty safe one to follow, that as long as the mistress orders the meals and knows what is in the house, it is her prerogative to take the lead in such matters.
In houses where napkin rings are used, for family and house guests, napkins should be kept neat and folded and rolled into the ring at the end of the meal. It is usual for the guest at only one meal to place the napkin on the table without folding it. It is a nice custom for the waitress to stand back of and pull out the chair of the mistress of the house, but in some families where there are young sons it is well for them to be trained in this act of courtesy. If there is a woman guest, it is optional whether the waitress should do this or the host. I have been a frequent visitor in a charming home where there are five sons, and have been so interested in watching their little imitations of father’s table manners and small courtesies. Each son, in turn, was taught to pull out the chair for mother and render other small courtesies such as are the hall-mark of good home training.
The boys and girls returning from boarding school are very apt to bring back with them table manners that are apparently necessary in dealing with a large group, one of them being the habit of holding the sugar bowl or salt-cellar in the hand while serving themselves. This should never be permitted in a private home, and this applies to any dish of any kind. Children away at school are very apt to be critical of the food they receive, and the habit often returns home with them. Any unfavorable comment on food at the table is, of course, not good form. Dinner table conversation should be interesting, avoiding any but the lightest discussion of serious subjects. If children are taught correct dinner table conversation and the simplest rules of table etiquette they, and their parents, will be saved many embarrassing moments. – By Florence Austin Chase, 1929
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