Friday, May 15, 2020

Gilded Age Washington Etiquette

At a young folks’ dinner at Chevy Chase, Miss Alice Roosevelt arrived late. Upon her entry of the dining room, “all the guests arose, as if by common consent, and remained standing until Miss Roosevelt had been seated.” A new precedent was said to have been established. Was it? — A hand-tinted photograph of Alice Roosevelt (by Frances Benjamin Johnston). This was taken around the time of her debut, in 1903.  — photo source, Pinterest



A Momentous Question 

SOME people at Washington apparently find time hanging so heavily on their hands that they are driven to all sorts of expedients to kill it. Just now they are gravely discussing the question whether etiquette demands that a company shall rise when a member of the President a family enters the room. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat kindly seeks to help them out of their difficulty, and does so in that fashion. 

This ponderous subject of doubt was precipitated by a young folks’ dinner at Chevy Chase, at which Miss Alice Roosevelt arrived late. Upon her entry of the dining room, “all the guests arose, as if by common consent, and remained standing until Miss Roosevelt had been seated.” Now, a strong party formed who declare that the precedent has been established and that a new rule of behavior in the presence of members of the White House family must be promulgated. We hope to see this weighty matter settled right, and it should be settled promptly. 

We do not wish to be doubtfully wavering between a sitting and an upright posture while we are talking over matters with the French or German ambassador, should Kermit Roosevelt roll his hoop into the front hall, and it is of the highest of importance to know exactly what to do when he spills a pocketful of marbles on the floor, which will likely enough roll under all the heavy furniture. Should we at once rise and remain standing until he finds them all? It may be that the court etiquette set up by the boys and girls at the Chevy Chase dinner will be relaxed sufficiently to allow us to go down on our hands and knees and help Kermit hunt for his marbles. We should enjoy it much more. 

When we consider the size of the President’s family, we are somewhat alarmed at the possibilities of this new rule, and are inclined to question the wisdom of the nice little tennis boys in blue coats and white pantaloons and the sweet girls in fluffy dresses who have thus suddenly attempted to bring about this fatiguing innovation at court. We guess everybody over 19 years of age will be excused from getting up, won't they? — Sacramento Union and Daily Bee, 1902 


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia©️ Etiquette Encyclopedia

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