Sunday, October 2, 2022

Early 20th C. Smoking Etiquette

Was this advice from 1864 the impetus for smoking jackets? “A host who asks you to smoke, will generally offer you an old coat for the purpose.” —The Addams Family character “Gomez Addams’” in his smoking jacket. -Photo source, Pinterest


A gentleman may smoke in the presence of ladies—especially in the presence of those who smoke themselves—but a gentleman should not smoke under the following circumstances:

When walking on the street with a lady.

When lifting his hat or bowing.

In a room, an office, or an elevator, when a lady enters.

In any short conversation where he is standing near, or talking with a lady.

If he is seated himself for a conversation with a lady on a veranda, in an hotel, in a private house, anywhere where “smoking is permitted,” he first asks, “Do you mind if I smoke?” And if she replies, “Not at all” or “Do, by all means,” it is then proper for him to do so. He should, however, take his cigar, pipe, or cigarette, out of his mouth while he is speaking. One who is very adroit can say a word or two without an unpleasant grimace, but one should not talk with one's mouth either full of food or barricaded with tobacco.

In the country, a gentleman may walk with a lady and smoke at the same time— especially a pipe or cigarette. Why a cigar is less admissible is hard to determine, unless a pipe somehow belongs to the country. A gentleman in golf or country clothes with a pipe in his mouth and a dog at his heels suggests a picture fitting to the scene; while a cigar seems as out of place as a cutaway coat. A pipe on the street in a city, on the other hand, is less appropriate than a cigar in the country. In any event he will, of course, ask his companion's permission to smoke.– From Emily Post's 1922, “Etiquette”


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

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Etiquette of a Dinner Guest List

Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the legendary daughter of Teddy Roosevelt, took great pleasure in inviting people to her dinners who hated each other, and then seating them next to each other. Then she would watch with glee as they either squirmed in discomfort or took out after each other. (She also had a needlepoint pillow in her drawing room that said, If you haven't got anything nice to say about anyone, come and sit here by me.)

Sometimes I'm in the mood for large parties, but there are times I really enjoy just having dinner with six or eight people. If you're going to do a small dinner, though, it is crucial that the guests be compatible.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the legendary daughter of Teddy Roosevelt, took great pleasure in inviting people to her dinners who hated each other and then seating them next to each other. Then she would watch with glee as they either squirmed in discomfort or took out after each other. (She also had a needlepoint pillow in her drawing room that said, If you haven't got anything nice to say about anyone, come and sit here by me.)

I never did understand the point of that. It just seemed mean and sadistic to me. Remember the Golden Rule. I certainly don't want to be in the room with someone I intensely dislike, much less be seated next to that person. I want to relax and have a good time. So do most people unless they are perverse. Certainly you don't want people who agree on everything. That's boring, which is the ultimate sin in party giving. You definitely want spirited debate at the table. I always like it when my guests start throwing their napkins at one another. But it should be friendly and fun. You shouldn't, for instance, put a serious pro-choice person next to a determined pro-life person, or a spokesperson for PETA (the animal protection group) next to someone wearing a fur coat.

Toni and Jamie Goodale (she’s a development consultant in New York; Jamie is a First Amendment lawyer) had a large book party for Ben a few years ago, and in walked, at the same time, Dan Rather and Connie Chung, who had just split up their CBS Evening News anchor team, as well as Judge Kimba Wood and writer Michael Kramer, who were in the midst of a very public divorce. Some of the guests, assuming that these people would not be speaking to one another, rushed up to Toni to advise her to separate them. As it turned out, they were all fine about it and it wasn’t a problem. But it did remind me that people often agonize about their roles as host or hostess in these situations. 

My feeling is this: invite whom you want. If your guests are worried that somebody they don’t like will be there, they don’t have to come. If they find themselves arriving at the same time as somebody they’re not speaking to, or in a room with someone they are uncomfortable with, let them work it out. That’s not your problem

Years ago I was planning a party in my old bachelorette apart ment on California Street. I invited the writer Larry McMurtry and two women who were both interested in him and, unbeknownst to me, had had words with each other. One of the women, a close friend, told me that if I didn't uninvite the other she would never speak to me again. I did uninvite the other woman, reluctantly, and she has barely spoken to me since. And I don’t blame her. We’re all older and wiser now. I would never do that again.

I recently had a party where a guest was entering the front door and another guest, who had just been publicly fired by him, quietly whispered to me that he was leaving, and slipped out the kitchen door.

If you are among writers and journalists, you should be especially careful not to put a guest next to someone who has written something awful about him or her.

Sometimes, though, it's hard to know. Once, at a Swedish embassy lunch years ago, I was seated next to New York Times columnist Bill Safire, who had just written something that I considered negative about my husband. Of course, in high dudgeon, I turned my back on him and refused to speak to him the entire time. This was really awkward for everyone at the table, and I felt extremely bad about it. You can imagine, then, my chagrin when, after lunch, Ben came over to the table and threw his arm around Safire with a big friendly grin and a hearty “How are you, ole boy?” (Bill has since become an admired friend.) So much for loyalty.

Ben and Kay Graham are very much alike on this score. Neither one of them is capable of carrying a grudge. Sometimes people will write bad things about Kay that upset her, and I don't speak to them for years. Then I'll go to her house for dinner and there they'll be, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, her new friends.

The question of whether or not to invite people who have been disgraced is always an issue. Maybe you don't know anyone who’s been disgraced, but then you obviously don't live in Washington. Half the people here are publicly disgraced at some point your in their careers for various reasons. My feeling is that decision should be made on a case by case basis. How close are you to the person? Is the person somebody you need to stand up for, no matter what he or she did? Did the person actually commit a crime, or was the disgrace a little more personal, like getting caught with a prostitute, for instance, or having an affair, or being drunk and disorderly?

Oh, what is the poor hostess to do?

As always, the answer is simple. Do what you believe is the right thing to do, not what people think you should do. If the person has committed some crime and you basically believe that he or she is a truly decent human being who made a mistake, stand by your friend and invite him to your party. Have him next to you at the front door as you greet people, to show that you are supporting him. If your guests are offended, too bad. They can leave.
 — From Sally Quinn’s 1997 book, “The Party: A Guide to Adventurous Entertaining”


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

Friday, September 30, 2022

Mid-20th C. Finger Bowl Etiquette

Above is a selection of antique picks and forks for crab legs and lobster, along with a pâtĂ© spreader and an individual caviar knife.– “When one has eaten lobster, the finger bowl is quite necessary. Usually a slice of lemon is served with the finger bowl of warm water, for lemon rubbed over the fingers will take away the unpleasant fishy odor.”


  • Finger bowls are not often used, but one needs to know what to do when a finger bowl is provided. 
  • At very formal dinner parties, hotel-dining rooms, and with sea-food dinners, it is brought to the table before the dessert.
  • At the formal dinner party the finger bowl arrives on the dessert plate, a small doily under it, and the dessert fork and spoon resting on each side of the bowl. When it comes to the table, the guest removes the silver, putting the fork at the left of the plate, the spoon at the right. Then he lifts the bowl and doily from the plate and sets them on the left side of the plate.
  • The proper way to use the finger bowl is to dip the tips of your fingers in the water, rub them over your lips if you like, then wipe both your fingers and your lips with the napkin. Do it as inconspicuously as possible. 
  • When one has eaten lobster, the finger bowl is quite necessary. Usually a slice of lemon is served with the finger bowl of warm water, for lemon rubbed over the fingers will take away the unpleasant fishy odor.

– From Emily R. Dow’s 1957, “Brooms, Buttons and Beaux”

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



Thursday, September 29, 2022

Etiquette and Entertaining Parties

Round tables are best for conversation. That's just a fact. Even with twelve people you can have a group conversation with a round table. This does not mean that you have to have a round table to have a successful party. In fact I don't have a round table in my dining room in Washington. I do, however, have a rectangular table that is almost like a round table, where I can have a cozy group of four or ten. 


Assuming you're not having a buffet supper, the table becomes the most important thing about your party, after the guests. This is where it happens. This is where hosts’ and hostesses’ reputations are made or broken.

Relax, I'm only joking. But... if it doesn’t work at the table, it’s over.

Round tables are best for conversation. That's just a fact. Even with twelve people you can have a group conversation with a round table. This does not mean that you have to have a round table to have a successful party. In fact, I don't have a round table in my dining room in Washington. I do, however, have a rectangular table that is almost like a round table, where I can have a cozy group of four or ten. My problem is that when I put a leaf or two in the table, it suddenly becomes too long for a group conversation and doesn’t really work. I can see my way around this problem. I don't like round tables for fourteen— I think they’re awkward— so I make the best of the situation when I have more than ten. 

Usually, if I’m having more than sixteen to eighteen for dinner, I take the dining room table out and bring in several old round fold-up caterer’s tables, put skirts on them, and that always seems to work better. The worst tables, and I've fallen for this in a country house once, are those long narrow antique wooden refectory tables. For some reason they are conversation killers. At least those at the end of the table have a little threesome, but those stuck in the center always seem to get left out. I think of those tables as lean and mean. The rounder and more generous a table, the better time guests generally have.

You don’t have to have down-filled armchairs at the table, but chairs should be relatively comfortable. Forget backless benches. They may be quaint and look good in the decorating magazines, but you simply cannot have a good time for a whole evening if you can’t lean back and relax. Those bamboo upright caterer’s chairs don't look it, but they are surprisingly comfortable, especially with cushions, and they don’t take up a lot of space, so you can squeeze more people in if you have to. 

I much prefer to have too many people at the table than too few. It is deadly to have great, huge spaces between seats at a party. A five-foot round table is a good size because you can put four people or twelve at it. Twelve is a little tight, but I find people have a good time when they're jammed in together. The caterers will tell you you can’t possibly fit twelve at a five-foot round. They are wrong, but ten is best for that size table. A four-and-a-half-foot round will seat ten, and a four-foot round will do eight. So if you’re hard up for space, squeeze ‘em in. — From Sally Quinn’s 1997 book, “The Party: A Guide to Adventurous Entertaining”


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

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Manners for Sports’ Spectators

“As you grow older, you may go to the horse races, and if you are as lucky as most people at a race track, your horse will lose. Don't boo a horse if he does. He has feelings, too.” — Marjabelle Young Stewart

As you grow older you will become more and more a spectator at sporting events. At some, such as football, base ball, horse racing, hockey, and track meets, you can shout to your heart's content. But at others, like golf and tennis, you must remain quiet until the player has made his shot, or-in the case of tennis-until the player has made his point.

Razzing players on a football or baseball field may be good fun, but it isn't good sportsmanship. You have to assume that the people on the field are doing their best, and nobody likes to be razzed or booed. Before doing either one, try to put yourself in the player's place; see how you would feel if the fans were booing you.

As you grow older, you may go to the horse races, and if you are as lucky as most people at a race track, your horse will lose. Don't boo a horse if he does. He has feelings, too.


Source ~ Marjabelle Young Stewart’s and Ann Buchwald's 1969, “Stand up, Shake hands, Say ‘How Do You Do’” ~ What boys need to know about today's manners.

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Skin Care Etiquette for Teens

Elizabeth Post had her own line of cosmetics and beauty products for fans of her etiquette columns. This mid-century, miniature powder and accompanying puff, were the perfect size to toss in a handbag.

Care of Your Face

  • Never go to bed without washing it, no matter how late it is. If your skin is oily, use soap and water. If it is dry, use soap sparingly and be sure to wipe the skin dry after every washing.
  • Your powder puff and lipstick should never be loaned, and do not borrow other people’s. 
  • Face powder is fine to hide a shiny nose, but don't make a mask of it on your face. 
  • Lipstick color should match nail polish, if you use colored polish. Select a lipstick that will suit your natural coloring, your hair, skin and also the color of the dress you are wearing. Be careful not to overdo the lipstick. Keep the natural shape of your lips.
  • Rouge should be saved for parties and evening dress-up. Use it sparingly, or it will look unnatural.
  • Pimples should never be squeezed. Keep your hands off them. Picking can make an ugly scar and start an infection. See your doctor for constant skin trouble, as there are many new ways to treat it. 
  • Get plenty of sleep and check your diet. The health of your skin depends on sleep, diet, exercise and cleanliness. Keep away from rich, spicy or fried food. A food allergy can cause a rash. 


– From Emily R. Dow’s 1957, “Brooms, Buttons and Beaux”

đź’„Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Monday, September 26, 2022

Locker-Room Manners

Control your temper: Don't throw your helmet, towel, or a ball to the ground; don't shake your fist or holler in anger at anyone. No one respects a person who can't keep his temper under ice.
–—–––––––––––––––––––––––––––
To update these excellent manners from 1969, Etiquipedia would like to add to this list that unless one is from a reputable news service or magazine, under no circumstances is it allowable to take photos of others in a locker-room without their permission. If the person being photographed is a minor, the parent’s or guardian’s permission is first needed, as well.


Some fellows who can control themselves on the field in front of an audience lose their cool in the locker room. This is dangerous because you are judged by your team mates and your coaches in the locker room, and if you get out of control there, they can't trust you on the field.

Don't use foul language in the locker room. It's out of character for good athletes, and it embarrasses other people.

Control your temper: Don't throw your helmet, towel, or a ball to the ground; don't shake your fist or holler in anger at anyone. No one respects a person who can't keep his temper under ice.

Don't spit in locker rooms or showers.

Don't leave hot showers running, don't throw tissue on the floor, and always, always flush the toilet after using it.

Don't start water fights in the locker room. Someone could slip and become severely injured.

Towel snapping is permissible, providing you're willing to let someone snap a towel back at you. 


Source ~ Marjabelle Young Stewart’s and Ann Buchwald's 1969, 
Stand up, Shake hands, Say “How Do You Do” ~ What boys need to know about today's manners.

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

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Manners of a Pea Eating Champ

Move over, Nathan’s! It wasn’t those New York famous hot dogs which were being eaten competitively in the early 20th century. Bad manners were also on display, with a twist (or should I say, ‘a slit’?) in this competition. In 1929, on the West Coast, one Ruth Keller was the winner of a competition of eating peas with a knife! The knives all had a special slit down the middle to help speed things along. 
 

Why Peas Leave Pod

Why they leave their plate via the knife route was demonstrated by Ruth Keller, who is the champion of California when it comes to consuming the little vegetables with only a knife as a weapon. She won the state title in competition with other girls.– A. P. photo.

Girl Proves Champion at Eating Peas With Knife

LA CRESCENTA, Dec. 28.– Eating peas with a knife, like drinking coffee with a spoon in the cup, is admittedly poor table manners. But because Ruth Keller of this town excelled at the first-named social ban, she is wearing a medal today as the fastest green pea eater in California. In competition with other pretty maidens, Miss Keller sat down to a festive board here recently with a huge bowl of the elusive little vegetables in front of her, and only a knife as a weapon. Everybody started off at a given signal. 
A safety pea knife with a slit down the middle, as advertised in the late 1920’s 
The only advantage possessed by the contestants over the ordinary individual who likes his peas on a knife, was that the blades used by the girls had a slit down the center. The theory of this stroke of mechanical genius, displayed by one of the contest managers, was that the peas would stick in the slit and slide down easier into the mouth. Miss Keller consumed her peas in amazingly short time. True, they skipped and staggered and skidded about on the knife, but even the most unruly pea finally succumbed to the girl's sense of balance and followed its more tractable predecessors, until all had disappeared. - Oakland Tribune, 1929


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