Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Higher Standard, The Most Beautiful Phrase, The Waiting Game

     "The art of general letter-writing in the present day is shrinking until the letter threatens to become a telegram, a telephone message, a post-card...
     Of course, love letters are probably as numerous as need be, though the long distance telephone must have lowered the average of these, too. Young girls write to each other as much and as imprudently as they have always done, and letters between young girls and young men flourish like unpulled weeds in a garden where weeds were formerly never allowed to grow."
     The difference, though, between letter writers of the past and pf the present, is that in other days they all tried to write and to express themselves the very best they knew how, while today people don't care a bit whether they write well or ill. Mental effort is one thing that the younger generation of the "smart world" seems to consider it unreasonable to ask.
     To such as these, to whom effort is an insurmountable task, it might be just as well to say frankly: If you have a mind that is entirely bromidic, if you are lacking in humor, all power of observation, and faculty for expression, you had best join the ever growing class of people who frankly confess, "I can't write letters to save my life!" and confine your literary efforts to post-cards with the engaging caption, "X is my room," or "Beautiful weather, wish you were here."                             "Etiquette" by Emily Post, 1937

1. Emily Post's book is an eye-opener, indeed. I have long thought manners and proper etiquette were a lost art. I think our society could use some brushing up. I'm inspired to put (almost) all of Miss Post's 859 pages to good use and raise our family's standards a little higher.
2. Daughter #2 makes the discussion of how the words, "cellar door" are claimed to be most the beautiful phrase in terms of sound without regard to meaning. I recalled a song I used to sing to the girls called Playmate and it has the words, "cellar door" in it. Daughter #3 asks me to sing it. This was one of her favorite songs for me to sing and I can tell by the look on her face that she remembers.
3. We invite ourselves to linger at our friend's house after our study while we wait for Daughter #4 to call for a ride. Another couple also stays behind and we enjoy a visit outside out on the deck with a glass of wine for some and beer and cigars for others.


  1. Post's observations are timeless. The only letter writing I see my kids doing these days are those of a Thank You note, or the type that are passed around in the classroom

    Cellar door. Ha! I does roll of the tongue, doesn't it. Reminds me of the Spanish word celador, meaning watchman or guard.

  2. Er, "It does roll off the tongue.."

    I'd better finish that first cup of coffee. ;)

  3. That's why I at least write thank you notes with details about the gift and something positive about the giver and our relationship. I got one pre-printed "thank you for the wedding gift" card not long ago. And one bride only thanked me for my gift in person as I passed her at church.