Welcome to Wiser Now’s weekly email blast which reflects my eclectic interests and, I hope, yours. September is Courtesy Month as well as the birthday (September 13, 1938) of Judith Martin AKA Miss Manners, who would never say anything so uncouth as “Mabel, Mabel, get your elbows off the table,” even if she approved of the directive.

I hope you are finding these offerings fun, and perhaps even useful, and I welcome your feedback. ( And if you haven’t yet pressed the subscribe button so this newsletter doesn’t go to spam, please do so now.


The Quirky Quote
The test of good manners is to be able to put up pleasantly with bad ones.
~ Wendell Willkie

The Quirky Fact

Judith Martin has written more than a dozen books, some based on her newspaper columns, which began in 1978. Her signature style is a certain aloofness (She always speaks of herself in the third person) that belies her sincere, often witty and concise advice. For example, among dozens of columns archived here, was one that began like this:

Dear Miss Manners: I have a neighbor who is extremely outspoken and opinionated about everything!

The writer goes on to say how she herself is a positive person who wants to be a good neighbor without subjecting herself to the woman’s “ranting.” If they happen to be outside at the same time, she prays the neighbor “doesn’t run over and start up,” but asks Miss Manners for the best way to handle the situation. Miss Manners’ reply?

Keep something permanently cooking on the stove.

The Quirky Observation

I have long been fascinated by books like 1883’s American Etiquette and Rules of Politeness by Walter R. Houghton, not just for the sometimes outdated, sexist advice, but for the highfalutin language in which it is couched. He writes:

"Such exclamations as 'The Dickens,' or 'Mercy,' or 'Good Gracious,' should never be used. If you are surprised or astonished, suppress the fact. Such expressions border closely on profanity."  

One can only imagine the horror he would feel if subjected to today’s common expressions of astonishment freely used.

The Question
The word “courteous” comes from the Middle English word “kindness.” Horace Mann said, “Manners easily and rapidly mature into morals,” and others, including Alexander McCall Smith, have described manners as the “building blocks of civil society.”

Do you link manners with courtesy and kindness? How important are they to you and how are they best taught? If you think humor helps, check out this link:

Featured Product
We’ve covered parts of fall with our “Happy Halloween” and “Remembering November” slide shows, but this one has entirely different delights that include:

  • Trivia quizzes on apples, Johnny Appleseed, William Tell, and fall colors
  • A funny word game on “Logical Saints”
  • Reminiscence exercises on fall feelings and fall events
  • An imaginative exercise on beautiful words
  • A discussion on “What’s an Indian Summer?”

All in all, it’s a bushelful of fun. See an excerpt here.

The Quiz 
Carrying on with my interest in both the guidelines for proper manners and the language used for writing them, below is an abbreviated quiz in which two of the admonitions have been altered by me. Can you identify which ones? Which do you think remain relevant today? (You can find the full quiz here.)
  1. A visitor should not appear to notice any unpleasant family affairs that fall under his observation.
  2. Do not exhibit vulgarity by “making puns.”
  3. A gentleman should speak to the intellectual standard of the lady he is conversing with. Never embarrass her by speaking beyond her understanding.
  4. The eyes are the index of the soul, and many traits of character may be read in them . . . Nothing is more foolish and vulgar than painting or coloring the lids or lashes.
  5. To every well-bred man physical education is indispensable. It is the duty of a gentleman to know how to ride, to shoot, to fence, to box, to swim, to row, and to dance. Open-air exercise is essential to good health and a perfect physical development. Athletic displays are unbecoming in women.
  6. In public conveyances one should do nothing to discommode or annoy his fellow passengers.
Answers and explanations are at the end of the document.

The Shameless Request

Please share Wiser Now Wednesday with anyone you think might be interested, and if you represent an organization that would like a customized version, please send me a note at

Bonus Bit
From:  Is this still true?

The Kiosk of Resources

Answers to Quiz

The Real manner says:

3. A gentleman should never lower the intellectual standard in conversing with ladies. He should consider them as equal in understanding with himself.

5. To every well-bred man and woman physical education is indispensable. It is the duty of a gentleman to know how to ride, to shoot, to fence, to box, to swim, to row, and to dance. He should be graceful. . . . Dancing, skating, swimming, archery, games of lawn tennis, riding and driving, and croquet, all aid in developing and strengthening the muscles, and should be practiced by ladies. The better the physical training, the more self-possessed and graceful she will be. Open-air exercise is essential to good health and a perfect physical development.

My multiple goals are to amuse and inspire you, to share what I and people whom I admire am doing, to stimulate your curiosity and spur you to action. I hope you enjoyed this offering. You can access previous issues here. We welcome your feedback. (
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Copyright (c) 2019 Kathy Laurenhue | All rights reserved.

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