Miss Betty and Miss Manners

Romper, stomper, bomper boo.

Tell me, tell me, tell me, do.

Magic Mirror, tell me today,

Did all my friends have fun at play?

How many of you remember that  rhyme, and Miss Betty (in the Minneapolis area) holding up that magic mirror, so we could ‘see’ our
friends? It was a special time, when we learned manners, table prayers, the Pledge of Allegiance and general courtesies. She had her viewers do exercises too.

Beth 64 1j03 (1)

Me doing calisthenics with Miss Betty on Romper Room, age 3


I miss that time. Not that there aren’t polite people in the world today, there certainly are, (holding up my own magic mirror, I see Rachel and Ryan and lots of their friends!) but it feels like manners and courtesy are exceptions rather than rules now, and that makes me sad. I wish it wasn’t so uncommon for people to hold doors open for a stranger, or to smile and say hello, just because you can. Did that go away when we got scared to say “Merry Christmas”?

How about etiquette? What’s the proper way to set a table? Does the knife blade face the plate or away from it? Fork on the left or right? I can still hear my Grandma Abby saying “This is the proper way to eat soup. ‘Whenever I go out to sea, I dip my spoon away from me'” so that you would remember you’re supposed to dip your spoon in your soup away from you at the far side of your soup bowl. Of course, no one does that any more. Are things like how to set a table  even taught anymore outside of the restaurant industry?

How about this one – “elbows off the table Mable” (with all due apologies to the Mables in the world). I said this to my hubby a few months ago, he just looked at me like I’d lost my mind. “What?” I asked him. “Where did that come from?” he wanted to know, as  he’d never heard that expression before, thought I’d made it up on the spot. Not a chance, that was another Grandma Abby-ism. So was “make sure you have on clean bloomers every day” but no one knows today what bloomers are. (They’d be your britches! And if you don’t know what those are, for heaven’s sake, look it up.)

People used to write to Miss Manners, asking how to behave in a given situation. “Dear Miss Manners, my boyfriend’s sister is a being a brat. When I go there for dinner, blah, blah, blah. What should I do?”  and Miss Manners always had great advice on these angst filled life dilemmas. Or you’d consult Emily Post, for the guidelines of good behavior in any given situation.  She once said “The attributes of a great lady may still be found in the rule of the four S’s: Sincerity, Simplicity, Sympathy and Serenity.” Serenity is a little hard to achieve now, as is simplicity, but sincerity and sympathy are attributes all of us should posses, and goodness knows they don’t cost a thing. What’s really amazing, I just googled Emily Post, and found out there is a website emilypost.com (of course!). Guess what’s on the landing page? References to the importance of a handwritten thank you note and a good handshake. (See my prior post, Word of Advice). I didn’t even plan that, I am just that darn good.

Emily Post also had some valuable advice for men. “A gentleman does not boast about his junk.” Of course, given the time in which she lived I’m fairly certain it didn’t mean then what it means now, however it’s apparent to me that it’s still relevant, particularly if you’re running for public office. 

And on that note…


11 thoughts on “Miss Betty and Miss Manners

  1. Alas, I mourn the passing of manners and etiquette. And the horse they rode in on. 🙂

    Nice, Beth. A timely post indeed.

    My sweet little Aunt Violet said something a hunnerd or two years ago when I was a kid that I’d forgotten until this moment. Quoth she: “There are four kinds of posts in Texas. Corner, fence, Toasties, and Emily. I must’ve been about six at the time, but I got it and thought it was hilarious and a very clever observation.

    Many things have changed since then, but even with all that is different in the world, only one type of post has been added. Blog. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We never had a Miss Betty here in the UK, Beth – that I can remember anyway. We had a show called Play School, which I’m sure must have touched on similar subjects – although all I can remember is one presenter jumping from puddle to puddle pretending to splash about. The puddles were circular pieces of foil – and one (unfortunately for the presenter) wasn’t secured down properly, causing the presenter to slip and (I’m positive this happened) expose her bloomers to the nation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, if Wiki can be believed (who knows, maybe so, maybe not!) there was one in the UK. Here is what I found:
      “The United Kingdom had several versions of Romper Room.
      –Anglia Television produced a version for broadcast in the East Anglia region of England from 1964 to 1976, hosted by “Miss Rosalyn” (Rosalyn Thompson).
      –In Northern Ireland, local ITV company UTV created a local production in the late 1960s and early 1970s, hosted by “Miss Adrienne” (mother of television reporter Andrea Catherwood), and then “Miss Helen”, and Rose Neill as “Miss Rose”.
      –Around the same time, Grampian Television in northern Scotland produced a version hosted by “Miss Lesley” (Lesley Blair, a continuity announcer) and “Miss Rose Neill”.”

      Of course, having no idea of your true age…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Was Miss Betty’s show ever presented on radio? I have a hazy memory of something like that (we didn’t have a TV). It might have been an entirely different program, but I seem to recall a mirror…

    “…a gentleman does not boast about his junk” – Timeless advice, indeed. snickers

    Liked by 1 person

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