Party’s Over

party book cover betty betz

The Betty Betz Party Book: The Teen-Age Guide to Social Success

Submitter: After thumbing through this book, I understood why our library has held on to it all these years. It’s absolutely essential for all teenagers who are preparing to throw a swell shindig like the ones Betty Betz describes. She instructs teenagers on such topics as:

– What to wear. (“Always be sure that your dresses are at least an inch or so below the knee, because it’s always embarrassing to have a few cards wisecracking about your peekaboo knees.”)

– Who to invite. (“If you have singles, be sure that they can be paired off suitably. And don’t forget to consider such things as height, looks and IQ.”)

– What food to serve. (“Exotic foods are fine if your friends are making a point of going to an East Indian tea room or a Pizzeria, but if you’re dishing it up, it’s best to be strictly homespun.”)

– What songs to sing. (“Nothing lets the hair down faster in a mixed group than a few peppy songs.” Such as “Shoo Fly,” “Buffalo Gals,” “Johnny Get Your Hoe-Cake Done,” and “Good-Night Ladies.”)

– What games to play. (“Each girl…takes off her right shoe, and puts it in a bag. All the bags are collected and put in a laundry basket. Each boy selects one of the packages. The girls are all seated in a line against the wall, and it’s up to the men to find the owners of the shoes. When this is done, they are all off in a swirl of swoony music, and woe unto the ‘dolly with the hole in her stockin’!'” )

Miss Betz also has some suggestions for theme parties, such as a butterfly chase party. Each couple gets a butterfly net and small bottle of gasoline to “to chloroform the insects” and then sets off into the woods to “bag booty.” When it’s over, you have plenty of beautiful dead butterflies to mount for your rumpus room!

If only I had had this book in high school, maybe then I would have been popular outside of marching band.”

Holly: Any teenager who follows advice from this book is certain to be shunned by his peers.   There are a few public and school libraries out there that still have this book on their shelves.  School libraries, especially, seem like a particularly awful place for this book.

  1. On the other hand – it would be a great book for people whom role play and their game is set in the 40s or for adults whom want to throw a 1940s theme party.

  2. Uhm…I like it. I really, really do. I am so bringing back the word “cards.”
    But I like old things like that so maybe it’s just me.
    All I know is that the woman on the right has to be wondering why she isn’t entirely a cartoon.

  3. Brilliant! I now know why so few of my parties were unsuccessful. You’re right, of course, the book is probably a great collectible, a fun history lesson or an interesting anthropological curiosity, but not particularly useful for information in the here-and-now. Still, it must be difficult to weed things like this–they seem valuable for encapsulating the sense of the time in which they were written.

  4. There is a point at which old books stop being dreadful and start being highly amusing and interesting again. I think that this book has passed that point. I wouldn’t use it to gain information about throwing a party, but I’d love to read it!

  5. I always consider such things as “height, looks and IQ” when planning a party. The butterfly chase theme is particularly disturbing–especially since I could envision some teenage sociopath deciding to chloroform his partner rather than the butterfly.

  6. Wow. I love these wonderfully dated social norms/ advice books. Remove it but see if you can sell it to benefit the library. These are collectibles.

  7. i geuss in 1947 pizza was ‘exotic.’

    ‘johnny get your hoecake done’ sounds like one of those old blues songs that had double meaning(i.e. ‘i need a hotdog for my roll’) that callow white folks wouldnt get…

  8. I hate to break this to Betty Betz, but there’s nothing less exotic here in north Jersey than a pizzeria.

    It blows my mind that this is still on the shelves. My grandparents were the target audience for this book when it was published. Incidentally, my grandpa taught me the song about the dolly with the hole in her stocking. Maybe he went to a Betty Betz-inspired party in his youth.

  9. I wouldn’t have it in my library, but I may own a copy personally. I collect teen etiquette manuals from the 50s and 60s, and this looks like a winner!

  10. that crazy, nutty, exotic pizza! What wacky friends that Betty has! And *snigger* at bagging butterfly booty. He. hehehe.

    1. I believe that this type of old book would make the perfect kind of “art” film today, since it is so-ooo alien to our generation. Of course, this type of lifestyle and youthful thoughtfulness was faintly touched upon by the movie “Metropolitan” by Whit Stillman.

  11. In a class that included a weeding project in the college library, we were taught that a book such as this still has value on the shelves as “history.” That someone doing a paper on adolescent behavior, activities etc. might still want it. It is too precious to toss! The book stores even republish things like this, for fun. I saw some on how to catch a man! Also, if you think this is fun…check out the 50s “educational” videos on YouTube! There is one about dating that is hilarious!

  12. Such a shame! We’ve been planning my daughter’s 17th birthday party and I sure could have used that book. A few chrouses of Shoo Fly to get the party going would sure sound better to me than Lady Gaga. Too cold for “butterfly booty” but the kids will be having some of that there exotic pizza. Seriously though, that’s the kind of book I can sit with my daughters and pick things out of while we just laugh and have fun. I’d love a copy! I hope my Public Library has it! I’ll be checking, and perhaps we can save this party after all! hehe

    1. Ironically, maybe if yoru daughter and her friends all sat around reading/looking at this book, it might be the foundation for a fun-filled party after all!

  13. I find the cover really disturbing!

    …but I think that book shouldn’t be weeded – it should be kept as an interesting historical item.

  14. It’s tough on the butterflies, but has a certain retro appeal.

    If your library is a repository of classic non-fiction, then it should definitely stay (at least down in the stacks).

    Every library has books full of out-of-date advice: even the Bible tells us not to covet our neighbour’s ox (or his ass for that matter), and how many Philistines have you smote recently?

  15. @Melissa, I think you nailed it! I was kind of thinking the shoe game would be a fun one even today to break the ice at middle school or church dances, but something about it felt strangely uncomfortable. Your comment made me realize why.

  16. Darn, I recently weeded a similar book from the 50’s, though it didn’t have that snazzy cover. Perhaps that is why ours hadn’t checked out in the last 20 or 30 years.

  17. You should display that next to Amy Sedaris’s “I Like You.” Not sure which one would be more delightfully effed-up

  18. How cute is the dachsund illustration?! You should keep it in your collection for dachsund lovers like me!

  19. I own this book! It provided me with many hours of entertainment growing up in the 60’s, as, even then, it was SOO out-dated!
    My favorite bits are the Behavior Do’s & Don’t’s, such as whispering with your girlfriends and not including the boys in your conversation.
    Oh, and be sure to let him pay for the date! Boys don’t like it when girls are too independent – makes them less feminine somehow.
    Thanks for reminding me! I have to go dig this out of the closet now.

  20. I actually think this book is rather sweet (butterfly hunting notwithstanding). I wouldn’t chuck it.

    ‘Buffalo Gals” must have been a popular song in 1947. Didn’t it feature in “It’s A Wonderful Life” which came out the same year?

  21. This reminds me of this book for housewives I once got a look at, which instructs the wife to lay down for 15 or 20 minutes before her husband gets home so that she can be fresh and pretty for him.

  22. Holly: “Any teenager who follows advice from this book is certain to be shunned by his peers.”

    Holly, any teenager who follows advice from this book has no peers.

  23. Seems some publishers miss out on the ‘marketing’ of their books. Nothing says ‘hey teenagers grab this book and let’s party like it’s 1949’ more than grandma’s lace doily trim around the title.

  24. This is the kind of reading material I had growing up, living in my grandmother’s house with its leftover relics from forty years spent bringing up six girls and one unfortunate boy. (Don’t get me started about “On Becoming A Woman” and its sage advice on “heavy petting”, a term I used out loud in the seventh grade *in 1987* thanks to that delightful volume and my own social cluelessness.) I would actually try to plan parties like that — in my head, anyway; in real life nobody would ever have come to any of the parties I might ever have held in my grandmother’s basement, even if I *had* held any. I totally knew about that shoe game.

    Um. If you do weed this book, could you send it to my library for its book sale? Memories…

  25. OMG, this book would be an awesome guide to throwing a vintage party. Hmmm, I think I have an idea…I’m over due for a private shindig. Lol, I can just see my friend acting cheery, cheery dressed in vintage like the Cleavers. Thanks for sharing this.