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You can have a successful social life!

Etiquette for Young Moderns: How to Succeed in Your Social Life

Submitter: Perhaps the most unfortunate author’s name ever…”Etiquette For Young Moderns” by Gay Head

Holly: Ooooh, that IS unfortunate!  What’s even more unfortunate is that this book is so painfully outdated, yet still riding the shelves in a few public libraries.

Long distance operator?  Writing letters?  What?

There’s actually some good advice here about eating oysters and spaghetti. page 117 talks about checking hats and coats, though, as if “of COURSE” you’ll be wearing a hat!  In 1954, yes.  In 2010, no.

Oh, sometimes I think these traditional manners are nice.   Most of this book is pretty out of touch with modern reality, though.


0 Responses to You can have a successful social life!

  • I love old etiquette books. I agree though, this is taking up space on a public library shelf.

  • Do you know who the illustrator on this book is by any chance?

  • Oh, good lord! This made me roar with laughter. That can’t be good since I am sitting at our ref desk at the moment. Gay Head? Priceless!

    1954 was the year my mom was born. I kind of do like the illustrations.

  • The text may be outdated, but those illustrations are amazing.

  • My dad graduated from High School in 1954. But believe me, he was NEVER a “young modern”.

  • Considering how ill-mannered most Americans are, I vote to keep this on the shelves; you need all the help you can get.

  • I have another one of Gay Head’s books. It’s called Boy Dates Girl and it’s along the same lines.

    • Yes!!! I love “Boy Dates Girl.” I also have “Dear Gay Head” and “Hi There, Hi School!” I LOVE Gay Head (and no, I can’t type that w/o giggling).

      • I also have “Hi There, High School!”
        I got it at a library book sale 🙂 and it is one of my gems.

  • I love the waiter on the cover. His legs look a million miles long and his, um, package is just right there isn’t it?

  • Not long ago, there was still a magazine called Young&Modern. I think the name’s been changed in recent years. And yes, the author’s name is priceless.

    • I think you mean YM, which was a popular magazine similar to Seventeen when I was a teenager, but it’s not published anymore.

      • YM originally stood for “Young Miss”. It was later changed to “Young & Modern”. During it’s last few years of publication they changed it to “Your Magazine”.

        Man, I used to love YM, even though it was cheesy as hell.

  • Dave, the illustrations were done by Irwin Greenberg.

  • One thing that I do find unexpectedly refreshing in this book is in the car section where it says that the girl sits to the right of her guy – unless she’s driving. I appreciate that a book written at the height of the pearls and “how to please your man” period would note, without qualification, that the girl just might be in the driver’s seat.

    Old etiquette books are always fascinating. I would love to find this at a library discards sale.

  • I disagree that this kind of advice book should be weeded, even though it is obviously out of date. I am now 25. When I was about 13, I found another book by Gay Head (“Boy Dates Girl”) in my Grandad’s house (it had belonged to my Dad). I enjoyed reading it and laughing at a lot of the advice with my nanny. I expect I was not the only teenager who enjoyed stumbling across an old etiquette book and laughing at it. Why deprive your teenage patrons of that kind of amusement?

    This isn’t like the medical or technical advice books where being out of date is a potentially serious problem; “young moderns” who find this book will enjoy laughing at it, and even if they do take some of the advice, it will not do any serious harm; I expect they know how to make a long distance call and won’t try to explain things to an operator.

    They may also use it as first hand research for papers about how etiquette changes over time if they want.

    • Fantastic response–and not just because I’m in full agreement. Glad you took the time to comment!

  • I want that book, for it’s social historical context. Love that stuff. *Waves at submitter*

  • I see that I’m not the only one who loved the illustrations.

  • I would love to read this book, but at this point in time it really doesn’t have much place on public library shelves.

  • Wow – How time flies. I guess in the 50’s Gay head implied something like “Happy Mind”. Somewhere in the 60’s or 70’s he probably had his name changed….

  • Just don’t throw out anything by Judith Martin. I just read her 1970s/1980s guide to raising impeccable children and its advice was just as true today as then, including all the different kinds of … creative parenting philosophies out there which either have come back again or never left.

    I do remember an Encyclopedia Brown story that seemed terribly outdated even when I was a child. The case was solved because the “woman” was seated to the left of the man rather than the right. Therefore she *must* have actually been a man, and therefore had the strength to do the crime of which she was accused since a woman could *never* be that strong. Etiquette in action!

  • As a person who still thinks Emily Post makes sense, I absolutely love this title – but not for the etiquette section of a library today. Still, I’d love to add this to my personal collection.

    Part of me does agree with nona, though – manners seem to be dying. We can use more etiquette training all around, IMHO.

    • I blame parents.

      I was in a Soup Plantation with my parents. Now mom’s legally handicapped due to back surgery and is slow. A mother with two kids told them, “If the people ahead of you are slow, just go in front of them.”

      I SO wanted to tell her bratty kids (and they were bratty, shoving in and grabbing, also incredibly loud) to “Get back to your mom and stay in line or I’ll spank you!” but I didn’t.

      But I have told kids before to shut up in movie theaters and that their parents should spank them. The parents usually remove the kids.

      Maybe the library should keep this book and schools should make it required reading.

      • If a stranger threatened to beat my kids, I would call the police.

      • If you encourage your kids to cut in line and push ahead of people, they deserve to be threatened.

      • How very polite of you, Jamisings. Your manners are fascinating.

      • I don’t think anyone would *actually* spank someone else’s kids, but I can understand the motivation behind threatening it. I’m not even that old (40s; not quite into the “get off my lawn, you kids!” phase of life yet), I live in a very nice area, socio-economically, and I despair at the families I see out while shopping, eating, going to the movies. Kids really do seem to be running wild these days, with the parents just blithely ignoring *any* sort of rude behavior, as though they do not see it. I don’t know if it’s the unspoken threat of being prosecuted for child abuse or what, but if I was running around a public place screaming like a monster and ruining other peoples’ meals/movies/afternoon out at the store, my mother would have yanked me to a stop and swatted my butt. Now, that’s called child abuse, but how many of us were swatted on butts as children and grew up to be perfectly well-integrated adults who earn a living, don’t commit crimes, have loving families, etc. etc.? Probably most of us. I think these ill-behaved kids *really need* a book on etiquette! (And an occasional swat on the butt!)

      • “I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words… When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint” (Hesiod, eighth century BC).

  • Etiquette for Young Moderns is neither young nor modern—discuss!

  • Ask anyone of any age today what “young moderns” means and they will stare at you blankly.

  • They lost me at “Golly!”

  • I wish there was a book like this for today’s young moderns. I’ve dated guys who were never taught the basics, like opening a car door. Of course I can open my own door (and I do, most of the time), but manners never go out of style.

  • I think the “At school” section is quite appropriate for today. Today’s classrooms and halls bear little resemblance to the ideal presented in the book.

    • The girls thought I was harsh because I told them they had to stop giving pedicures and applying lotion to each other’s legs in the library. I know, I am a total B***H!

  • Surely I’m not the only one who knows that Gay Head was the former name of a town on Martha’s Vineyard? They kept voting on whether to change the name, and voting it down, but finally (inevitably?) they changed the name to “Aquinnah.”

    • Oops, I see you beat me to it, J. I just posted a link to the Wikipedia article on the town (which I *still* think of as “Gay Head,” and apparently most of the locals do, too).

  • Judith Martin’s sense of humor adds to the appeal of her sensible, intelligent advice and books. I’ve read out-of-date etiquette books for a laugh since I was a teenager, partially because they addressed people and situations from someone’s dreamworld. I still enjoy fantasy.

    • golly, i want this book! want it, want it, want it…reading stuff like this puts me into a kind of, i dunno…almost a happy trance; its like reading the elaborate protocols of some impossibly polite Dreamworld.

      the older emily post ‘etiquette’ editions are, of course, the gold standard-as a kid i must have spent many hours deep in study of how to be a proper member of the aristocracy of the america of 100 years ago(how to adress a duke, a baron…how to give a Tea)-wonderful, useless and for some reason, both calming and mildly euphoric…

      • I did this too! I’m glad to know I wasn’t alone. It was like reading an historical novel, but much more interesting. I especially liked the section on wedding invitations.

      • You need to attend a “cotillion.”

        That word used to refer to coming out parties, basically, but now it’s a sort of instructional event for the offspring of the nouveau riche. They learn how to sit down at elaborately made-up tables, which fork to eat, how to excuse themselves…. For a time they inhabit the world of which you dream.

  • Sure this book would be fun to read and laugh at when found at a grandparent’s house. But it just sends the wrong message to have it available for check-out at a public library (ie. that libraries are stuck in the mid-20th century and inrelevent today). Please folks, send this to a University Historical Archive, or better yet, a booksale!!!!

  • Probably, the best place for this book will be a special collection in an academic institution. I believe that if this book is included in a collection of similar publications, it can have a research value for somebody working on a topic of changes in social ettiquette, etc.

  • its sad that so many find good manners either unrealistic, or funny.
    :/ no wonder people today act little better than barbarians.

  • Modern etiquette, example 1:
    NEVER USE ALL CAPS, unless you’re really angry or flaming

  • As the blog-owner (is there a better word for that?) of a blog about Modern Manners, I would love to get my hands on a few scans of this (or other outdated) etiquette guides.

    Any tips? Discards that can make it my way?

    • Erica, search in thrift stores, library sales, yard sales, antique stores – they are out there! Online too (ebay, abebooks, etc.). I know from experience 🙂

  • Look around the next time you’re eating out and see if you notice anyone wearing baseball caps inside, while eating. And then try to say that “young moderns” don’t still need to be told to check their hats.

  • I’d be EVER so glad if guys would check their stupid ballcaps at restaurants. :shudder:

    • Really. You notice this a lot? Why would what someone else had on his or her head matter one little bit to you, let alone make you “shudder”?

      I certainly eat out often enough to have encountered several thousand fellow diners in my short life so far, and have never once taken offense at anyone else’s headgear. It’s never even occurred to me to notice, that much…. I’ve no idea how many men do or don’t wear caps, because it matters to nobody at all. Certainly not to diners at other tables.

      • To ISRW: I am in agreement with Mehitabel about the baseball caps. It’s untrue that it “matters to nobody at all”. I’m one of the diners at at one of the other tables, and it does indeed matter. It’s rude and disrespectful of the establishment and demonstrates a lack of common courtesy to others. I understand that you in particular do not care about this, but many others do…so please, stop generalizing. Unless you’re at a fast food place, lose the hats. It’s just tacky.

      • This must be a generational thing. I know once upon a time people both regularly wore hats and removed them in restaurants, etc. However, given the present-day rarity of hats (even baseball hats) in day-to-day life, it seems reasonable to assert that the protocols of headgear have changed. I mean, if it’s a baseball cap worn at a fancy restaurant, fair enough, but even in the low/mid-range establishments (e.g. Chili’s or Applebee’s)?

        I just cannot associate “wearing a hat” or simply “not removing a hat” with “rudeness” or “disrespect,” and I don’t see how it possibly impacts diners at other tables. You as well complain that someone 2 tables over is wearing white after Labor Day.

  • “Perhaps the most unfortunate author’s name ever…”Etiquette For Young Moderns” by Gay Head”

    I see your Gay Head and raise you a Gay Search.

  • I have a distant older relative named Gay; I would think she’s probably in her 60s now. Somewhere in through midlife she came out as a lesbian. I’ve always imagined the conversation with her mother about that was something like “Who’s on first.”

  • Out of place in a library but I’d totally buy it and read it.

  • I’m curious about the cover’s “T21 2/6.”

  • This guy also wrote a book about starting high school. I saw it at my Aunt’s house and laughed my ass off.