Call me old fashioned…

January 4, 2012

I may sound old-fashioned, but I want to think all women should be treated like I want my wife, daughters, and granddaughters to be treated. I notice today that good manners—like standing up when a woman enters the room, helping a woman with her coat, letting her enter an elevator first, taking her arm to cross the street—are sometimes considered unnecessary or a throwback. These are habits I could never break, nor would I want to. I realize today a lot more women are taking care of themselves than in the past, but no woman is offended by politeness.

Frank Sinatra

I never thought I had a Norman Rockwell upbringing…  Hindsight is 20/20.  Small town, parents who stayed married for nearly 50 years, grandparents who were close and involved, church on Sunday followed by fried chicken at grandma’s (yes, I’m serious).   I suppose it took years of living on my own and having my 0wn family to make me reflect and admit it.

Ol’ Blue Eyes’ quote reminded me of one more blessing from my childhood – Friday night dinners at the Elks Club.  Really, since I can remember until the  Elks Club moved in the mid-1990s, my family met there every Friday for dinner.   My parents used to meet my grandparents there before I was even born.  Legend has it that one of my sisters (or I) was named by the guys in the rathskeller.  My mom used to swear that she would show up at the Elks with her brood in tow and sit in the restaurant waiting for my dad to emerge from the rathskeller.  The longer she waited, the more babies she sent through the bar to remind him  that it was time for dinner.  This was before women were allowed in the rathskeller.

Dark, musty, smokey, red cloths covering the ancient tables…  and one of these beauties adding to the ambiance…

…bathrooms that smelled like a fresh spray of floral air freshener or those pink gel things that you hang over the side of the john – the sights, smells, atmosphere are all RIGHT THERE on the tip of my nose, tongue, mind.

Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end…

As I look at creating memories for my own young family, I can’t help but think back to the lessons I learned a the Elks.

1.  In a town not so far away, at a time not so many years ago, men were gentlemen.  They held the door open for women AND girls and they stood when a lady left the table AND returned to the table.  They pulled the chair out for these women – no matter how many times they got up to say hello to a friend, use the bathroom, or have a cigarette in the ‘smoking area’.  (which, for the record, was just a corner of the non-smoking dining room).  They did these things because they were polite, NOT because they thought these women were weak or unable…but rather because they were using good manners.

2.  “Coming home” means more than just returning to a childhood house….  Community is important.  There were many Fridays while I was in college that I would drive directly to the Elks because my arrival time was during dinner.  Do not pass go, do not collect $100, do not take car load of dirty laundry home first,,,, it’s Elks time!

3.   You can earn a quarter by giving an old man that you don’t know a kiss on the cheek.  (Ok, perhaps this is a lesson I will leave out… but it IS one that I learned at the Elks and lived to tell about it)

Am I “that mom” that took my kids to an etiquette dinner at ages 6 and 8?  Yup.

Will I be the one that insists that they learn more about manners and how to hold a conversation with another human being – especially an adult?  You bet.

Call me old fashioned….

“We’d live the life we choose, We’d fight and never lose, For we were young and sure to have our way.  La la la la la la…”

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3 Responses to “Call me old fashioned…”

  1. Laura VanMetre Says:

    Gosh this made me swoon. My mother would kill me if I didn’t say excuse me/thank you/etc. I TOTALLY notice when a man holds a door open for me (especially when getting in/out of a car), and I only wish that guys my age would do HALF the things listed here. Here’s hoping there are some men out there that behave this way!

  2. Carrie Says:

    I love this. You are an amazing lady. This is a really beautiful writing. I was thinking 9 is the perfect age to buy my oldest an Emily Post guide to etiquette. What do you think?


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