Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day and the Thin Veneer of Civilization

From my book: "Forget-Me-Not, Forget-Me-Never, Remember the Fun We Had Together: Reminiscences and Memories of New York" 
Soldiers and Sailors Monument
New York City, 1907
Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of Britain once said: "The veneer of civilization is very thin."

Once a society looses its faith, virtue and civility, how do we get it back?

I say wealth is fragile.

If America looses its wealth, we loose our
free ability to fuel capitalism, thus,
we loose our free opportunities to pursue
"The American Dream."

This Memorial Day, remember our fallen because it is our fallen whom have kept us a free society.

Free to work toward our own American dream for ourselves and our families.

Happy Memorial Day! Remember and Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Miniature Earth, India at $1/ Day and Landfill "Picker" Etiquette

For many in India, landfill is a livelihood and a home

Since our inception, The Sabot School of Etiquette has been including with its workbook for each student, a handout from: This website boils the world population down to a small community of 100 people. Among other social, ethnic, religious and economic statistics, The Miniature Earth Project states that 47 people within this community of 100 live on $2 per day, and 25 people live on $1 per day.

As Director of The Sabot School of Etiquette, this handout is important to me personally because I have lived abroad and traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Caribbean, and I want to show our students how fortunate they are to live in America and how well we live here in this great country. However, reading this article about India's landfill "pickers" left me agape, flummoxed and gobsmacked. This article from The Los Angeles Times entitled: "Landfill is a livelihood for many people in India", by Mark Magnier, is to say the least, starkly shocking.

 With India's growing middle class, there is growing consumption, therefore, growing garbage. At the bottom of a traditionally cultural "caste system" which unfortunately still exists in India today, people literally line up to risk their health and lives, for a job known as a "Picker." These hard working human beings, born into the lowest class of India's caste system, are striving to feed their families, rise above their class, earn money to educate their children, and do better for their families.

It is hard to believe in a modern, global, Internet driven, social network world of 2012, any government would have its citizens, adults and children, picking through acres of already picked through garbage at all, especially with no shoes or gloves, and would further have these brave souls just trying to survive and feed their families, to then have to pay 50% of their daily $2 earnings to a boss for "rent", so they may have a cardboard shack of a 2 room "house" to live in with 1 light bulb for 6 people in their tiny dwelling. Apparently, there are many people in line for these "picker" jobs.

The landfill even has its hierarchy and etiquette. The article states: "Buyers pay 5 cents a pound for plastic bags and $18 (per pound) for human hair, used for wigs." Fights for turf are common, so the article advises: "Some finer points of picker etiquette: Don't talk to bulldozer drivers, and scrounge only what is in front of you." The new news is that the government is thinking about streamlining and automating these landfills, leaving its 1.7 million garbage "Pickers" without a job, without any alternative job, or any hope for any kind of life.

The story told in this article is an absolute testament to the virtuous human spirit, even in the midst of an emerging modern society, an inept government, what should be an outdated class "caste" system, religious bias, and the most horrible work conditions anyone could ever imagine. 

There is an old saying in India: "Everything will be all right in the end." Wow. Lovely sentiment, but what about the here and now?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Handwritten Notes, Bunny Mellon and Manners Money

One does not have to have money to have manners.

A handwritten note on plain notebook paper is the proof. Mrs. "Bunny" Mellon, heiress, philanthropist, and clearly in the 1%, hand wrote a note to the John Edwards campaign on good old plain notebook paper. She even drew a tree and mountains in the background. No fancy, fussy, expensive, monogrammed stationery needed.    

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Are Blue and Green Books in a Multi-Culti Society Now Non-Applicable? Hello Facebook!

   By nature, of course, we all want a sense of "belongingness" and purposeful living for ourselves, our families and we aspire to a better life for our children and grand children. Traditionally, the 'Golden Rule' is: "He who has the most gold rules."
 Grown out of the American Gilded Age, selective social lists in America, signified instant inclusion into exclusive societies within golden cities such as Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and New York. These lists were so popular, families would often spend their whole lives trying to get onto these lists so they could be considered "In Society." However, in our modern, technology savvy, Internet driven, international, multiple cultural society of 2012, do these formerly WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) high society lists still apply?
    The New York Social Register, first published in 1886, is a suede navy blue directory of families from 'old money', mostly descendants of the Dutch and English settlers of New York. The Mayflower Society has its "Blue Book" too, and Washington D.C. society has its "Green Book." Does being included in these annual social books help one's financial and cultural upward mobility, happiness factor, self-confidence and sense of worth, or, are the inclusion in these directories now non-applicable?
   The Green Book was expanded in 1930 by Helen Ray Hagner. Her Aunt, Bell Hagner, was Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt's Social Secretary, the first White House Social Secretary in American history. Helen Hagner realized with each election, new government officials were ushered into Washington thus needed to be listed so they could be accessed. She added these Diplomats and elected officials to the old society, stayed families that had lived in Washington for many generations.
   The famous and most referenced "Blue Book", thought through folklore to be filled with Blue Bloods, grew out of the original 41 pilgrims that were listed as passengers on the Mayflower ship which landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. These diverse, brave adventurers making this treacherous voyage to a new land were actually regular folks specifically seeking religious freedom, and all signed The Mayflower Compact, an important part of our Constitution.
   Their trades varied from a copper barrel-maker, an orphan, a wool comber, a Minister, servants, a carpenter, a surgeon, a farmer, a militia officer and a scholar. Half of these passengers died upon landing in America and during their first winter here in this untested land.
   Some of the more famous and interesting descendants of the Mayflower pilgrims include Julia Child the cook, Serena Armstrong-Jones also called Viscountess Linley, Frank Doubleday of Doubleday Publishing, Frederic Church the American painter, Clint Eastwood the actor, all the Baldwin brothers the actors, George Eastman of Eastman Kodak, Charles Dana Gibson of the 'Gibson Girls', John Lithgow the actor, General George McClellan of the Civil War, Adlai Stevenson the intellect, Noah Webster of Webster's Dictionary, William Whitney of the Whitney Museum and New York society philanthropist, and Christopher Reeve the actor.
   All in all, the price of gold goes up and down, those with the gold go in and out of society, and the rules of society are always changing and evolving with the times. Welcome Facebook!

Sources include:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Remember Your Mother on Mother's Day

Lake Mohonk, 1905
A Mother's Day Poem from Forget-Me-Not, Forget-Me-Never book:

Here's to the happiest
Days of your life,
Spent in the arms
of another man's wife...
   ...your Mother.

Elizabeth Thompson, 1905

Happy Mother's Day to all our Mothers!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Unspoken Importance of Social Speech

   Talking. Yakking. Chatting. Yammering. Speaking. Pontificating.
   How does the way you speak sound to others? What does your manner of speaking, in an unspoken way, say about you, your education and your upbringing? Do you use the same phrases and grammar as your parents use? Have you adapted your own speech to your environment, profession or region?
   We all want to sound intelligent, cultured and current but how does our speech project who we are?
      The following are some modern and *old fashioned tips (just for fun) on how to sound better:

  • If you are over the age of 18 years old, please do not say the words: "actually", "like", "yeah-no", "you know", and "um". Ever.
  • Other than while on the dorm room hall, do not say curse words. Ever. Yes, curse words do include the word "God", and the phrase: "OMG". Curse words are words of last resort. Saying curse words implies you know no other words. If you hang around people who constantly say curse words and foul words, start hanging around a different set of people. If you have to work around people who curse, put your brain in gear and think of other, more creative words instead of cursing yourself.
  • The past tense of 'Drag' is 'dragged', not 'drug' and not 'drugged.'
  • Say: "You did well," not "You did good."
  • Mind your slang. Most of the time, slang in formal settings does not translate well.
  • Do not use slang, or tell jokes, in foreign countries. Slang spoken to and jokes told to foreigners does not translate well at all.
  • As shocking as this next statement may sound to old fashioned, traditional Southerners, one may just as easily say: "Yes, Mrs. Johnson" and "No, Mr. Jones" rather than "Yes Ma'am" and "No Sir." In 2012, "Yes Ma'am" and "No Sir" smack back to a time in America that is no longer applicable in today's "Multi-Culti" society.
  • Please do not say: "Would'a went" or "Stand on line." Say instead: "Would have gone" and "Stand in line."
  • "Physicality" is not a word. Placing "ity" at the end of any ol' word does not make you sound smarter.
  • In 1984, I was told by a society grand dame: "A 'toe-mot-toe' is worth 1/2 a penny more than a tomato." In 2012, saying 'toe-mot-toe' does not make you worth 1/2 a penny more. 
  • Never say "chauffeur." That word went out with the 1930's. Say "driver" instead. 
  • Do not say "Can I." Say "May I" instead.
  • Do not say "I concur." Say instead "I agree."
*Old Fashioned (just for fun...from a 1938 etiquette book) :
  • Do not say "I desire to purchase"   Say instead "I should like to buy"
  • Do not say "I trust I am not trespassing"    Say instead "I hope I am not in the way"
  • Do not say "Will you accord me permission"    Say instead "May I"
  • Do not say "I presume"   Say instead "I suppose"
  • Do not say "Mansion"    Say instead "Big House"
  • Do not say "I will ascertain"   Say instead "I will find out"
  • Do not say "perform ablutions"   Say instead "wash"
  • Do not say "converse"   Say instead "talk"
  • Do not say "Realtor"    Say instead "Real-estate agent" or "broker"
The general rule is what one of my English professors' used to say:
"Do not use a 95 cent word when a 5 cent word will do."

*Old fashioned phrases of speech are from the 1938 book by Emily Post called: "Etiquette."