Men opened the church doors for the women who had spent the week driving tractors or hoeing in the fields. Women wore hats and gloves to church and invited the pastor home for Sunday dinner. During revival time, the visiting preacher would be invited for supper one night. Dinner was the noon meal, supper the evening meal. If all the chairs were full and a person older than you came into a room, your chair was to be given up for that person. Same age person or younger person were out of luck unless you had a crush on them.
There was no cutting in line at the water fountain, lunch line or the check out line at Trab's store or Safeway. This courteous behavior extended to driving on the road. No cutting off or cutting into the traffic. That began to end back in the 1970's. Probably brought on by the gas shortage. Some men say it was caused by the Women's Movement. But they only say that once in my presence. Then they need to apologize profusely or I explain, again, in a firmer voice that the degradation of society is not due to my making equal pay and being able to own property. But I digress.
I must share one story of how Southern manners could be almost, dare I say, fake. My Mom was sewing like a mad woman trying to finish the last bridesmaid's dress for my younger sister's wedding. I am in the same room putting together the headdresses. At the sound of a car we look out the window and see a cousin and her 'friend' drive up. Mom yells as to how she does not want to deal with (cousin) Bernice and "her old dyke friend." Mom continues to rant by saying the cousin's name and using the "D" word as Cousin and ODF exit the car, walk across the front yard and ring the doorbell. Sister answered the door and invited Cousin and ODF into the house. These were the manners of hospitality we were taught.
Mom's home was small and her voice carried so I thought she would stop the rant. No. 'The Rant', as I have come to call it, continued as the women entered the house. Mom continued to rant most antimatedly as they came down the very short hall and turned the corner. It is less than 3 yards between them and Mom. Only then did Mom stop ranting, jump up from the machine and say, "Oh, look who is here!(all fake happy like). Well, come right in!" She graciously invited Cousin and ODF to have a seat. She did apologize that she would need to continue to work as time was short before the wedding. Chairs were brought into the tiny sewing/bedroom. The always present glass of iced tea (sweetened of course) was offered. All survived and the dress was ready for the wedding.
Charm, graciousness and manners are important in our lives. They surely take the sharp edges off of what can be a tough existence. An opened door, a smile, a helping hand can make a difference in one's life on both sides of the act. No, the cousin had not followed decorum and called ahead. I do not think she even had a phone. Bernice and everyone knew Mom's and Daddy's home was always open to all even if inconvenient. But if Mom knew you were coming there might just be a freezer of ice cream waiting for you. So long as there was not a wedding on the horizon!
Please, take a few minutes to stop by Gretchen's and Ginny's to enjoy friends sharing stories about manners. If you need an engraved invitation:
You are invited to join the conversation.
Submit your spin on manners.
The location is The Spin Cycle.
The time in now.
The address is here.
Oh, yes, thanks for stopping by my little blog. I've enjoyed visiting with you. Do stop by again.