Old-Time Radio Playlist: Summer, Part 2

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

In the second part of this old-time radio playlist, we find that summer can teach us more important lessons.

Heat Wave”
Our Miss Brooks,
August 7, 1949


“Believe me, Walter, going to see Mr. Boynton is no way for me to cool off.”
Lesson Learned: When it’s really hot, wacky scheming may not be the best way to conserve your energy.
My Verdict: This show is always worth a listen. Mr. Conklin here reaches levels of indignation that test even Gale Gordon’s considerable powers of indignation-expression.

“Beautiful Summer in Newport”
NBC Short Story, April 18, 1951


“Fraulein beats me.”
Based Upon: A story by Felicia Gizycka, whose own incredible story included being kidnapped by her father, a Polish count.
Lesson Learned: Vet your summer child care providers very carefully.
Notable Performers: Anne Whitfield, a busy child actress in radio, plays the lead role. If you’re like me, you know her best as Susan, the general’s niece, in the movie White Christmas.
My Verdict: This story has some disturbing scenes, as a governess hired by a social-climbing aunt abuses the woman’s young nieces. Hey, announcer: You didn’t really have to tell us that the word “Beautiful” is used ironically.

“Summer and Smoke”
Best Plays, May 22, 1953


“He told me about the wonderful talks he had with you last summer, when he was so mixed up.”
Based Upon: The 1948 play by Tennessee Williams.
Lesson Learned: Try to avoid being a character in a Tennessee Williams play.
About Best Plays: From 1952 to 1953, this show delivered just what its title promised, with notable stage actors in its cast.
Notable Performers: Geraldine Page plays frustrated, fragile Alma, as she did in the play’s highly successful 1952 New York revival. Page also played the role in the 1961 movie, earning an Academy Award nomination. Richard Kiley, who plays John, created the role of Don Quixote in the 1965 musical Man of La Mancha.
My Verdict: Page’s performance is outstanding—its preservation for us is one of the wonders of old-time radio.
Bonus Feature: Here’s the theatrical trailer for the movie.

“Summer Replacement”
Family Theater, December 1, 1954


“I have a feeling the ‘defender of justice’ is in for a bad half-hour.”
Lesson Learned: Age and experience can triumph over youth and beauty in the world of entertainment. (Disclaimer: This lesson may not apply in real life.)
Notable Performers: Una Merkel plays a radio performer whose long-time role is given to a younger actress when the show transitions to TV. (In a coincidence involving our previous recording, Merkel appeared with Page in the movie Summer and Smoke, and she also earned an Oscar nomination.) Desi Arnaz hosts this episode of Family Theater.
My Verdict: This is a sprightly script, and Merkel conveys plenty of charm. I like the way her character wants to continue working even after landing a rich husband—and the husband is okay with that.

“Summer Song”
Romance, July 2, 1955


“I always forget the rules.”
Lesson Learned: Rich girls are easy.
About Romance: This dramatic anthology show ran in many different incarnations from 1943 to 1957. The 1950s episodes, produced by many of the same creative minds as Gunsmoke, are quite entertaining.
Story: Country club lifeguard Scott knows he shouldn’t fraternize with the guests, but seductive Dana makes his life difficult.
My Verdict: Dana is sexually aggressive to a shocking degree for a 1950s show. “Summer Skank” would be a more accurate title.

Other Old-Time Radio Playlists You Might Enjoy:

Summer, Part 1 (With Golden Age TV Bonus)

London Calling, Part 1

Christmas, Part 6

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Old-Time Radio Playlist: Summer, Part 1 (With Golden Age TV Bonus)

14965921-vintage-summer-postcard-vector-illustrationIt’s summertime and school’s out, but you can still learn some valuable lessons from these summer-themed old-time radio shows.

The June House Party”
Love Story,
August 6, 1937


“Randy’s a blooming idiot.”
Lesson Learned: What to do when he’s not that into you? Have you tried staging a mock wedding that turns out to be real? Apparently, it works wonders.
About Love Story: This short-lived series drew its stories from the pages of Love Story Magazine, a weekly romance pulp with an interesting history.
My Verdict: This makes for an amusing 15 minutes, though not for the reasons its creators intended.

“Summer Thunder”
The Whistler, July 30, 1945


“This blasted heat’s getting on my nerves.”
Lesson Learned: Make sure your husband has actually committed murder before you start trying to obstruct justice for him.
My Verdict: The acting is stagy, but this is a well-constructed mystery, with appropriate red herrings.

“Summer Storm”
Suspense, October 18, 1945


“All fat men aren’t good natured.”
Lesson Learned: Talking to yourself a lot? There is something odd about that.
Notable Performers: Henry Fonda’s naturally calm persona makes a nice contrast with the role he is playing, that of a man slowly cracking up.
My Verdict: I didn’t see the ending twist coming.

“Sometime Every Summertime”
Studio One, March 9, 1928


“What is it they say about summer romances?”
Lesson Learned: Summer loves grow cold in the fall. Sniff. (Alternate lesson: Advertising guys are kind of jerks.)
About Studio One: Fletcher Markle directed this short-lived anthology series that dramatized novels and plays.
Notable Performers: Burgess Meredith plays Clem, an ad man whose vacation romance with a young woman from a different social class is recounted from three perspectives—his friend’s, the woman’s, and his own.
My Verdict: This script by Markle was first produced on Columbia Workshop in 1946, then made the rounds of other anthology shows. Its popularity was well deserved; this is an understated, authentically human story with no corny elements.
Bonus Feature: This script was also produced for TV, in a 1953 production starring Dorothy McGuire.

“Going on a Picnic”
Archie Andrews, August 21, 1948


“I sure didn’t expect to get undressed on a picnic.”
Lesson Learned: Don’t go on a picnic with Archie and Jughead. Just don’t.
My Verdict: A mildly amusing episode of this silly series. Are there ants at this picnic? Yep…plus cows, skunks, and snapping turtles.
Celebrity Name-Droppings: Jughead mentions Elsie the Cow, symbol of Borden Dairy since 1936.

Other Old-Time Radio playlists you might enjoy:

Happy New Year, Part 1

Edgar Allan Poe, Part 1

Till Death Do Us Part

Leave it to Beaver: A Father’s Journey

403X403-SOCTVBLOGWard Cleaver: “When I was a boy, if I’d broken a window, I’d have had to pay for it…Not only that but I’d have gotten a pretty good taste of the strap, too.”

Beaver: “Gee, Dad—you must have had a real mean father.”

Years ago, when I was watching my way through Leave it to Beaver for the billionth time, I noticed an interesting pattern. In many episodes, after Beaver’s troubles resolve themselves, Ward and June share a quiet moment. Almost invariably, she asks him how his father would have handled a situation like Beaver’s. And almost invariably, Ward describes his father reacting with less understanding—and more hitting.

From Leave It to Beaver’s premier in 1957, TV critics recognized a small innovation that the show introduced to TV—its point of view.

“With Beaver, we aimed at showing the child’s view of this world,” Joe Connelly told the Associated Press in 1960. Connelly, with Bob Mosher, created and produced the series.

In my opinion, however, the show’s perspective is more complicated than that. Leave it to Beaver shows a child’s world as filtered through the perspective of a warm but bewildered father—a father who is groping toward a new model for fatherhood, quite different from the one he experienced growing up.

This dual perspective came naturally for Mosher and Connelly, who had eight children between them when Leave It to Beaver premiered. For story ideas, they drew upon their real families. The episode in which Aunt Martha forces Beaver to wear short pants to school, and the episode where the boys break Ward’s car window and attempt to hide it, came directly from the life of Connelly’s son Richard.

Changing Roles

470px-Cleaver_family_Leave_it_to_Beaver_1960

Leave It to Beaver‘s Ward Cleaver fulfilled traditional father roles as a provider and an authority figure. In almost every episode, however, he made a conscious effort to be a more warm and understanding father than his own father had been.

In the 1950s, when upper-middle-class parents like Ward and June Cleaver had a question about parenting, there was one man they turned to—Dr. Benjamin Spock, whose Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care was published to instant acclaim in 1946. As a 1955 article in the Milwaukee Journal put it, “The words ‘Dr. Spock says,’ heard daily in households from coast to coast, have made him ‘everybody’s baby doctor.’”

Dr. Spock stressed a relaxed and tolerant attitude toward children and encouraged parents to enjoy their children.

As years passed and new editions of the book appeared, Dr. Spock increased his focus on the father’s role in parenting, but even the earliest edition encouraged fathers to play a more active and positive role than their own fathers did.

In the early editions of his book, Dr. Spock discouraged spanking, although he stopped short of condemning the practice entirely.

As a 1998 Baltimore Sun article assessing Dr. Spock’s legacy stated: “It can be argued that Dr. Spock, more than anyone, sparked a revolution in how children were raised, turning baby-boom parents away from the strict discipline and prudish standards of their own parents and grandparents in favor of a more flexible approach that stresses plenty of love, caring and attention for children.”

Ward’s Parenting Journey

Hugh Beaumont was an ordained minister; this background might have helped him create his authoritative but compassionate portrayal of Ward.

Hugh Beaumont was an ordained minister; this background might have helped him create his authoritative but compassionate portrayal of Ward.

The words Leave It to Beaver have become a descriptive term for retrograde, sexist images of American life. It’s ironic, then, that the program actually shows a man who is working hard to become a “modern” father.

In a classic first-season episode, “The Haircut,” Ward and June discover that Beaver cut his own hair—badly—after losing his haircut money. Ward’s reaction is typical for the series:

Ward: “Boy, when I was a kid, my father would have whaled the tar out of me…Don’t worry, I’m not going to resort to physical violence. I’m tempted, though.”

Again and again, Ward rises above the temptation to discipline the boys the way he got disciplined. As other episodes show, he wants to have a warm relationship with his boys, even if he doesn’t always know how to build that relationship.

Take the first season episode “The Perfect Father,” for example. Ward grows increasingly distressed as Wally and the Beav spend all their time at the Dennisons’ house, where Mr. Dennison has installed a “regulation” basketball hoop.

Soon Ward is installing his own hoop and spending time with the boys and their friends as they play basketball. His action backfires, however, when his overbearing presence drives the neighborhood kids away.

This is certainly a departure from the all-wise, “father knows best” image presented in other early family comedies. Only when Ward runs into Mr. Dennison, and gets some advice from that more experienced father, does he realize his mistake.

Mr. Dennison: “If you ask me, the secret of getting close to your kids is to know when to stay away from them.”

In the moving second-season episode “Most Interesting Character,” we get a glimpse of Ward through Beaver’s eyes and see that Ward is succeeding in his efforts to be an involved and supportive father.

After struggling to make his father seem interesting for a school composition, and making a foray into fiction, Beaver decides to write the truth:

“He does not have an interesting job. He just works hard and takes care of all of us. He never shot things in Africa or saved anybody that was drowning, but that’s all right with me because when I am sick, he brings me ice cream, and when I tell him things or ask things, he always listens to me, and he gives up a whole Saturday to make junk with me in the garage. He may not be interesting to you, or someone else, because he’s not your father, just mine.”

Other Thoughts About Leave It to Beaver

Leave It to Beaver aired from 1957 to 1963. When CBS cancelled the show after two seasons, ABC picked it up.

Leave It to Beaver aired from 1957 to 1963. When CBS cancelled the show after two seasons, ABC picked it up.

Watching Beaver episodes in preparation for this blog post reminded what an enjoyable show this is. While the Cleavers are rather bland characters, Mosher and Connelly surround them with a hilarious collection of kids and adults, each believably annoying in his or her own way—from know-it-all Judy, whose mother was apparently one of the first helicopter parents—she threatened to call the school and complain if Judy didn’t pass her school orchestra audition—to overbearing braggart Fred Rutherford, to the ultimate in two-faced trouble-makers, Eddie Haskell.

The writers also slip some great lines into their scripts. I loved the randomness of this comment from “Train Trip”:

Ward, on how the boys could amuse themselves in a train station: “Well, you could always watch a fat lady hit a kid.”

June: “Why would they do that?”

Ward: “I don’t know…but I’ve never been in a railroad station yet where there wasn’t a fat lady hitting a kid.”

(If you substitute Wal-Mart for railroad station, this observation still holds true.)

In the early episodes, even June could bring the snark, as in The Perfect Father:

Ward, while installing the basketball hoop: “I must have put up hundreds of these all over the South Pacific when I was in the Seabees.”

June: “Well…I guess we all contributed to victory in our own way.”

So, if you haven’t seen Leave It to Beaver for a while, be sure to catch it on Me-TV—you’re sure to find it rewarding.

And when you do watch it, keep an eye on Ward and his journey to modern fatherhood.


“This post is part of Me-TV’s Summer of Classic TV Blogathon hosted by the Classic TV Blog Association. Go to http://classic-tv-blog-assoc.blogspot.com) to view more posts in this blogathon. You can also go to http://metvnetwork.com to learn more about Me-TV and view its summer line-up of classic TV shows.”

Spin Again Sunday: The Senior Prom Game (Circa 1950s)

senior prom box

Senior Prom–the game for girls whose parents were too cheap to spring for Barbie’s Queen of the Prom game.

In this week’s installment of Spin Again Sunday, we’re going to experience “all the thrills of a social season”–or at least as many of those thrills as a poorly made board game can provide.

This Week’s Game: The Senior Prom Game.

Copyright Date: Unknown, but the game appears to date from the 1950s.

Manufacturer: Warren Paper Products Company of Lafayette, Indiana. The company used the designation “Built-Rite” on their games (and jigsaw puzzles). If this game is any indication, they used the label ironically.

Object: To attain the status of prom queen.

Recommended Ages: 7 to 12.

Game Board: Actually, “board” is a bit of an overstatement for what is a flimsy piece of cardboard. In an unusual move, the manufacturers printed the game directions right on the board. I’m sure they did this to save money, but it does eliminate the possibility of losing the directions.

senior prom board

Game Box: The graphics are cute, with prom-goers depicted against a star-filled sky. The fact that the box brags about the “Large 15 x 18 Playing Board” may be be a hint that there’s not much here to brag about.

I can see why this would be worth a 6-space movement. Why would a "T.V. idol" be at your sock hop?

I can see why this would be worth a 6-space movement. Why would a “T.V. idol” be at your sock hop?

Game Markers: Square pieces of cardboard folded and inserted into round pieces of cardboard. These are supposed to represent crowns. Uh-huh.

Crowns? Really?

Crowns? Really?

Other Game Pieces: The colorful spinner has a metal arrow. Players try to collect cardboard circles marked with the words Date, Formal, Grades, or Dance.

IMG_2192

The cards players must collect.

Game Play: Players move along the board and try to collect the cardboard circles mentioned above. (I give the manufacturers credit for making good grades a pre-requisite for prom queen coronation.) With those cardboard circles in hand, a player can move to the inside track and try to land on a “Selected Candidate for Prom Queen” space. Each candidate places her marker on a numbered star; the first to make it that far and spin the number that matches her star space wins.

You can see more Warren “Built-Rite” games at the very cool Board Game Geek web site.

Other Spin Again Sunday posts you might enjoy:

What Shall I Be? (1972)

Barbie Miss Lively Livin’ (1970)

The Bride Game (1971)

Weird Words of Wisdom: Clean, Humorous, and Sprightly Edition

Weird Words of Wisdom is back, bringing you more sage advice from vintage teenage advice manuals!

“Have the greatest of respect for girls. Some will lose their heads and be foolish at times. Retain your poise and judgment and keep them in their place.”

Advice for Boys, 1947 (1954 printing)
By the Rev. T.C. Siekmann

About This Book and Its Author: Advice for Boys offers exactly what its title promises. The Reverend Theodore C. Siekmann was a Catholic priest, so much of the book deals with specifically Catholic topics—the Mass, the rosary, and sainthood. Fortunately for us, Siekmann includes a smattering of weird advice on more typical teenage preoccupations.

I haven’t been able to find much information about the Rev. Siekmann. He served at St. Joseph Church in Prairie Du Rocher, Illinois, from 1956 to 1968, and at St. Luke’s in Belleville, Illinois, from 1968 until retirement in 1982. He also did missionary work in Guatemala.

His book’s jacket indicates that he taught physical education and served as a sports coach as well as a religious educator. This background may explain his touching faith in athletics’ ability to keep people out of trouble. (Ask Aaron Hernandez how that’s working for him.)

Siekmann also wrote a book for girls. I haven’t been able to get my hands on it, but it sounds awesome.

Quotes from Advice for Boys

“If you are not happy, then something is wrong with you.”

“Athletics is good, very good…When you are all absorbed in a game, you think of nothing else, you want nothing else. Evil can wait.”

“Say a word of appreciation to your mother occasionally. Compliment her on her pie or cake. Praise the roast. Notice and mention the neat ironing she does for you.”

“At all times there is a supply of current slang expressions that are clean, humorous, and sprightly. A sprinkling of these innocent phrases will add zest to your conversation, without giving offense.”

“One girl among your present acquaintances may be yours till death. At any rate, she will probably be someone’s wife. Treat her even now as God’s noble gift to man, as a mother-to-be. Protect her virtue; guard her innocence. Keep her good for her future husband, whether it is you or Jack or Jim.”

“Personality may be summarized by three words: truth, cleanliness, and a smile.”

“When a room is cold, do not complain. Suffer it in a spirit of mortification. When the summer is hot and humid, smile and bear it for God. When you do not like food, do not complain.”

“Raising chickens is a fine hobby, and supplies fresh eggs for the table. If the location of your home permits, you might raise rabbits, pheasants or foxes, or other fur-bearing animals. All this will be at a considerable profit, in addition to the wholesome enjoyment which you will derive from your activity.”

On becoming a priest: “In short, almost all that you need to do is to enter a seminary and be willing to do what you are told.”

Other Weird Words of Wisdom posts you might enjoy:

Mugging, Smooching, and Flinging the Woo Edition

Embracing our Nature and Destiny Edition

Big Splendid Manhood Edition

Weird Words of Wisdom: “Take It on the Chin, Gal” Edition

“The more formal you are in your approach to the party, the better behaved your guests will probably be. Make them understand it’s a ‘party’ not a ‘gang-bang.’”

She-Manners, 1959 (1960 printing)
By Robert H. Loeb Jr.

K. Chin illustrated this book. The K. Chin best known for his 1970s artwork featuring cute animals? Probably. Like Loeb, Chin had an advertising background.

K. Chin illustrated this book. The K. Chin best known for his 1970s artwork featuring cute animals? Probably. Like Loeb, Chin had an advertising background.

About This Books and Its Author: A lot of people wrote advice books for teenage girls in the 1950s, and few of them had any special qualifications beyond magazine writing experience. Most of them, however, had lady parts. It took a certain amount of chutzpah for Robert H. Loeb Jr. to write a book aimed at girls (or, as he prefers to call them, gals.)

This dust-jacket blurb tells us as much about Loeb as I’ve been able to discover: “Bob’s a writer by profession, and an advertising man—no grey flannel suit, no Madison Avenue. And he used to be an editor for Esquire, when he also wrote Wolf in Chef’s Clothing, a hilarious cook book for men. Ah, then he turned his eyes upon the girls and said, ‘Say, they read, too, don’t they?’ That’s how he began. That’s how he dared.”

A writer and an advertising man? It’s as if Mad Men’s Ken Cosgrove wrote an advice book for teenage girls…which explains chapter titles like “The Wolf’s in the Trap—Wedding Time is Here” and “The Boss’ Lap is Not a Chair.”

Loeb is progressive on issues of racial and religious prejudice, devoting a whole chapter to the subject. The myths he sets out to debunk in that chapter are cringe-worthy reminders of how far society’s progressed: They include “The Negro in the United States has primitive morals,” “Negroes are not as clean as whites,” and “Jews have black curly hair and hooked noses. You can always tell a Jew.”

By 1950s standards, he’s even progressive on sex roles, admitting that they are social constructs and often unfair. In 1977, he would write a book called Breaking the Sex-Role Barrier. But his 1950s advice for dealing with male chauvinists doesn’t break any barriers: “Take in on the chin, gal. This is going to be with you always. We men have to stick together.”

Fun Fact: Loeb’s 1950 cookbook for men, Wolf in Chef’s Clothing, was reprinted in 2000. In this newspaper article, publisher Susan Schwartz describes the book and her decision to republish it—she sounds like a “gal” after my own heart.

Quotes from She-Manners

“Any man is wonderful if he is the man in your life.”

“Your best policy is always to accept the fact that (a boy) is a powerful giant, not matter what you may think. If you are able to beat him at tennis or golf or swimming, either don’t beat him or else beat him but tell him you know he’s not really trying or is just letting you win out of politeness. Let him maintain his powerful, caveman role.”

“To make (a boy) feel important, you have to forget your own desires for importance. Compliment him on his physical prowess, his mental acumen, his good looks, his virility. The worst mistake a girl can make is to make a man feel intellectually inferior or inadequate as a male. We men need  a lot of reassurance. So lay it on thick but subtly. Stoke his ego. Let him think he’s king much of the time. He will love you for it, and, you know, it will make you feel extremely feminine.”

“You know—men suffer from an odd sense of inferiority. They’re often terrified by smart women. This doesn’t mean you have to act the idiot role or the cute little ‘Oh, aren’t you smart!’ role. But it does mean that you can let him feel he is superior…The first evening you are together, don’t let him know you read Greek. Save that for next week. By that time he will like you so well that he won’t mind discovering you are an intellectual!”

“If you are a gal who uses frank, men’s locker room language—DON’T on this first date DON’T—EVER! Avoid shocking your date. Even if he uses such language and hears all the guys and dolls in the senior class using it, he wants his date to be better than the rest of the crowd.”

“(Many men will) grab you and kiss you on that first date, just to prove they can. This doesn’t mean they love you. It usually means they’re testing you. If a man can kiss you after a few minutes together, he has three reactions. One, he will think he’s irresistible. We men like to think that. Second, he will think you are an easy target. An easy target is not much to boast about. Third, he will wonder how many other men have had as easy a time as he. When he gets to that question, your market value drops.”

“The man has one set of standards for himself and another for you. He may consider himself a Don Juan for having succeeded in getting you to pet, but he will also decide that you’re too easy to get.”

On marriage: “Don’t be overanxious and feel that by the time you’re eighteen or twenty and have not been asked, you are on the shelf.”

k chin illustration 1Getting a guy to think about marriage: “Perhaps you can wangle an invitation for the two of you to dinner at the house of a happily married young couple? Or take him on a tour of home furnishing departments in the stores? Or on a lonely, romantic walk along the river? Or to an equally romantic formal dance? Maybe you can show him how well prepared you are for marriage—a good cook, a neat housekeeper, a gal who loves kiddies, a perfect hostess for a business or professional man?” Home furnishing departments? That’s really subtle.

At job interviews: “Don’t try to be overly glamorous, but don’t try to be the opposite extreme. You need not look like an old-fashioned eager beaver, all work and no-nonsense in the office…The male interviewer will probably be disinterested and think you’d not be much of an addition to the office décor.”

“If the (job) interviewer offers you a cigarette as a way of putting you at ease or as a gesture of friendship, then you may accept or not, as you wish.”

Fashion Tips (Yes, he even gives fashion tips)

“A word of warning—never overemphasize. A gal may have a terrific figure, but a homely face. So she overemphasizes her figure with tight sweaters and skirts, and walks with a hip-wiggle. All she gets are wolf whistles and leers. What she should have done was to make the best of her figure, since it is more attractive than her face, but not boast about her figure. And she should have realized that her face is not one half as ugly as she thinks.”

Suggested Wardrobe Essentials

2 long-sleeved pullover sweaters
2 long-sleeved cardigan sweaters
1 short-sleeved sweater or polo shirt or T-shirt
2 tailored shirts—1 solid color, 1 patterned
3 blouses—more feminine in styling
4 skirts—2 slim, 1 pleated, 1 full gathered
1 simple suit
1 jumper
2 date dresses—1 with discreetly covered top, preferably with small jacket; and 1 with low, round neck, décolleté style
2 simple dresses—to be dressed up with accessories for casual dates, street wear, or class
2 formals—1 long, 1 short
1 heavy all-purpose winter coat
1 dressier coat for church, dates, special functions
1 in-between coat for spring, summer, fall
1 bulky jacket or car coat
1 jacket to wear with skirts
2 pairs of slacks
2 pairs of Bermuda shorts

“Short short short shorts—no! In some towns and neighborhoods it’s against the law to wear short shorts in public.”

Weird Words of Wisdom: An Occasional Mad, Crazy Hat Edition

mccalls

Welcome to my latest Weird Words of Wisdom post about a vintage advice book for teens–and to my 100th post on Embarrassing Treasures!

“Besides being clannish, boys are basically conservative, especially when they’re together…They may whistle at the girl in the low-cut red dress, but it’s the demure little one in blue they ask for a date.”

McCall’s Guide to Teen-Age Beauty and Glamour, 1959 (1965 printing)

About this Book: This is the kind of cheap paperback that you could find in drugstore racks back in the day. It must have sold well, since the copy I have is from its 10th printing. Much of its advice is not so much weird as delightfully dated—it includes admonitions to straighten stocking seams, tip ladies’ room attendants a quarter, and take care when eating “Italian spaghetti.”

About the Author: Betsy Keiffer was a writer and editor at McCall’s Magazine. Born Elisabeth Corrigan in 1923, she married a painter named Edwin Keiffer in 1950. You can read about their lives on a web site that their children created about their father’s work. Betsy Keiffer, who died in 2006, was also the sister of New Yorker writer Faith McNulty. McNulty’s 1980 bestseller The Burning Bed became a memorable TV movie vehicle for Farrah Fawcett.

Beauty and Fashion Tips

“Put a few drops of perfume on a bit of cotton and tuck it inside your bra.”

Evidence of the vanity sizing that has taken hold in recent decades: “Of course, if you’re neither tall nor short, but just in between, not thin, not plump but a perfect size 12, you’re incredibly lucky and you’ll look fine in anything from a bikini to a sheath.”

“Don’t ever lull yourself into thinking you can ‘get by’ with those faintly grimy gloves or collars one more day.”

Why I’m really glad that someone invented blow-dryers: “It never seems to fail that when you are planning to wash your hair tomorrow, it’s today that divine boy you just met asks you out. There isn’t time, of course, for a real shampoo and set—but there is help at hand. To remove some of the oil that makes it look so stringy, use the trick of a piece of cheesecloth on your hairbrush, backed up by a hundred firm strokes.”

“When you buy a hat, be sure it will go with the coat and suit you have, as well as with several of your dresses, that it’s becoming and that you feel comfortable in it. Don’t let the salesgirl sweet-talk you into something that makes you feel foolish once you get it home. (Not that I’m against an occasional mad, crazy hat—provided your face and budget can afford it. It can do wonders for morale.)”

If you have wide hips: “Above all, rule shorts and slacks out of your wardrobe. They were never meant for the hourglass figure.”

Some suggested meals for weight loss

Breakfast
½ tangerine
1 soft-boiled egg
1 slice toast
Buttermilk or skim milk (1 glass)

Lunch
Frankfurter with mustard, no roll
2 salted crackers
Medium orange

Dinner
1 medium hamburger, no bun
½ small baked potato with butter
2/3 cup cabbage salad with lemon juice
½ cup fruit cocktail
Buttermilk or skim milk (1 glass)

Getting Along with Boys

“The only grounds for not following a boy’s plans for the evening are if he suggests going to some place your parents have not given you permission to go or if he suggests some sport or activity you don’t know how to do.” (I can think of some other things that might be in a boy’s plans that a girl would be within her rights to refuse. Of course, “some sport or activity” could be euphemism for those things, but I doubt it based on the suggested response for girls: “Before we go, I’d better tell you that I’ve never bowled before in my life—but I’m game if you are.”)

“If he’s made plans for the evening, don’t try to change them, no matter how much you hanker to see the double feature at the Palace or to show off your beau to the gang at the Pizzateria. Boys resent bitterly, and they have every right to, the idea that they’re being manipulated or pushed around on a date.”

“If you’ve ever taken the time to do any reflecting about which girls are popular and which aren’t—and why—you have undoubtedly noticed that one characteristic popular girls have in common is the ability to be relaxed around boys. They are frank, but never frantic, in their attitude that men are wonderful creatures.”

Some Boy Pet Peeves to Avoid (Supposedly Submitted by Male College Freshmen)

“Dresses that look as though they’d been painted on.”

“A raucous voice or sloppy speech.”

“Stance like a football player’s in a huddle.”

“Underwear straps that show.”

“Charm bracelets that clank so they drown out conversation.”  That must involve a huge charm bracelet and some really wild gesturing.

“Dresses with necklines that end slightly above the waist.”

“Eye make-up that’s so extreme a girl looks like a Chinese vase instead of a girl!”

Other Weird Words of Wisdom posts you might enjoy

Boring Beth and Sunshiny Sue Edition

A Million and One Tricks with a Strand of Pearls Edition

Crisp White Gloves Edition