Sunday, May 8, 2011

Once in Love with Amy... perhaps love is too strong a word...

 Dear Helen Hartman,
     I Wuz born in a barn. You Can just imagine my embarrassment whenever I make a social faux pas and look an outright fool someone asks That inevitable question.
     I’d love fer you to help me learn how to comport myself so I can fit in with polite society

Dear Loved One,
    First, Helen feels compelled to tell you she has never had much use for 'polite society'. Helen believes that if you never make a big ol' jack ass out of yourself from time to time you are depriving yourself of an excellent chance of finding out something monumental – who your real friends are! 
Good friends send flowers, and apparently watch you as you lie in bed. In the 1950s there was a fine line between friendship and stalking. A VERY fine line. Also, the ads were creepy.

That said, Helen is big on manners. Manners helps us navigate through life’s tricky passages and put others at ease. They make sharing an elevator, a work space, a bed, a country, indeed a whole planet a little more bearable. And so when I saw this on a table at a yard sale in a chi-chi neighborhood for one dollar I snapped it up! One dollar!

I'd have bought a book on manners written by Bart Simpson for a dollar! I mean, it's the price of a lotto ticket and who knows what it might teach you. I also added to my collection of Amy Vanderbilt's Success for Women Series (now women can buy furniture, decorate with color - were they NOT using color before Amy intervened? - learn how to make conversation and plan a vacation). Also found an Entertaining Diary (it's actually NOT entertaining at all but a diary to makes notes about parties and events you want to stage) for a few dollars as well. At the cost of sounding impolite in gloating - SCORE! 

The seller of Amy's essential Guide to Gracious Living didn’t think anyone would have any use for the book these days. HA! Helen can imagine half a dozen uses from a doorstop to pressing a keepsake flower. Or more in its originally intended vein – if I encounter a rude rube in need of schooling, I can whomp him up side of the head with it! That’s a lesson he will not soon forget. (Btw, the very fact that you think about this and ask, Loved One, means you are NOT that rude rube).
Thank you Helen Hartman for bonking me in the noggin' with that book and knocking my friend to the ground and sicking your dog on us. We needed it and as God is our witness we will never try to take a yard sale find out of your hands before you pay for it again.

So let’s turn to this tome of wisdom and… holy crap, did you see how massive that is? 9 parts! 75 chapters! Everything from how to set a breakfast tray (with linen under the serving pieces, please)properly:

To this tidbit that I am sure we all will embrace and make a part of our daily routine:

Amy, Amy, Amy... with advice like this no wonder women turned to Valium in the 60s. 
Oops! You startled me! Just let me slip into my matching bibless apron and I can begin my housework like a simple, every day 'lady of the house' that I am.

 Once again I find myself indebted and filled with (grudging) admiration for the dedicated and phenomenal Amy Vanderbilt. But I hope no one finds me ill-mannered when I heave a sigh of relief that her amazing book is now more useful for bug squashing or threat making than for a guide to every day life. Thank you, Amy, for all you've done and for providing me with tons (I mean this, TONS) of material to blog about for a long time to come. Oh, and much as I love my friends, please don't watch me while I sleep. 
Amy would disapprove and I may sleep with that book under my pillow, just in case.

What better advice to share than on Apron Thrift Girl Thrift Share Monday? 
and Nifty Thrifty Tuesday and Coastal Charm


  1. ;-)) As much as i love the 50's there are some things i don't like and the writing of that book has to be one of them, Does she think that all women are of simple mind? Goodness i find that really condescending. I agree that having a book to help show you how to run a home ie Like life skills almost is a good idea but blimey how to set up a breakfast tray.......But i do say i love your posts and the style and humor you write in its great ;-)) have a nice week, dee x

  2. Hello Helen:
    The advertisement of saying it with flowers is not simply creepy but could be thought to be downright frightening. Those ghosts of 'friends', and that corpse on the bed!

    But, thanks to this post, if, and a big if, we were ever to get down to doing some housework, then at least we know the correct clothes to wear. Get out the starch, we say!!

  3. dee - I honestly thought it would be a simple, direct book of sound advice in the manner of, well, our modern day Miss Manners! Oh my! Any occasion you can think of is addressed - eg - what to do for weddings and funerals of all sorts of faiths, which in some ways IS handy - but there is an other worldliness to the ideas, isn't there?

  4. Jane and Lance - I totally expect photos in your blog of you both in starched house-dresses, matching bibless aprons and a perfectly appointed breakfast tray! (yes, that ad haunts me!)

  5. Oh you write delightfully funny. Those books are fun too read and look at. Fascinates me and creeps me out all at the same time. I look like a frump-a-dump everytime I'm doing housework. Never ever crossed my mind to look all delicate and pretty whilst cleaning. Very interesting concept, indeed. Thank you, ever so much, for visiting my blog and leaving your sweet comment. I'm a new follower her as well. I'm glad to have met you and look forward to reading!

  6. My husband and I were just discussing the change in our society from say 50 years ago. We had to really persuade my daughter to wear a dress to her May Faire celebration. Other children in her class were wearing blue jeans. I explained to her that it's an honor to dress up and show respect. It's a hard lesson to teach children though and as we look around at our malls, many parents aren't teaching this to children. I don't necessarily expect everyone to wear top hats, dresses and suits. But for certain occasions it would be lovely if people dressed up. Okay, so my comment is probably far more serious than it should be. I loved your writing in this post, especially the bug squashing bit. I agree that most of the advice in these books are silly.

  7. My question is about the breakfast tray...unless you're bringing breakfast to the Queen, who cares?

  8. Thanks Michelle!

    I know what you mean about not dressing up - what goofy pictures will kids have to laugh at when they always dress the same for everything?

    Barbara - but wait! There were also multiple blueprints for other breakfast situations. Just breakfast - I didn't dare study the other meals for fear I'd overload!

  9. I'd love to comment on this post, but I'm too busy starching my housedress...because, social outcast that I am, I have to do my own housework. :)

  10. Oh Dana, if you must, you MUST - just don't wear a sweater and wool while you do!

  11. Heeeelarious! I'm so glad I found you. So refreshing.

  12. I love these old books! I am reading one I just got that was written in 1941 and has an entire chapter dedicated to how to dress your maid properly for you dinner party!

  13. Diann - if I had radar it would have just popped out of my head and started beeping - how to dress your maid? Only ONE chapter. What about dressing your maid for other times? Thanks for sharing that!

  14. Your commentary on those old photos has me cracking up! I don't know if I could have survived back then, my house would never be clean enough.

  15. Damn so thats why my husband tuts when he gets home, i thought it was becuase his dinner was not on the table and the baby wasnt hushed but oh no it must have been my unstarched house dress - thanks to Amy Vanderbilt for saving my marriage *wink* Mwah Scarlett x


Loved To Have Their Own Say In Things Ones say:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...