Weird Words of Wisdom: Chaperoned Edition

“The question of chaperons will surely come up. It’s a fact that most teen-agers prefer to go to a party that’s chaperoned.”

Party Perfect by Gay Head, 1959 (3rd printing, 1962)

Yes, the author’s name is Gay Head. My “Top Searches” should be interesting this week.

About the Book: Dust off your records and start pressing your suit— we’re going to party like it’s 1959! This slim Scholastic volume is filled with party-planning tips, from entertainment (“No evening’s program of games is complete without a relay race”) to wardrobe (“Dress up in your best date dress and tell your girl friends to do the same. Jacket and tie for the boys. After all, part of the fun of a party is being dressed right for the occasion. You’ll all enjoy yourselves more if you do.”)

Sample Party Themes:

  • A United Nations get-together. You assign each guest a country, and they dress accordingly: “A girl can look like a Mexican senorita by wearing a colorful, full cotton skirt, a pretty blouse, and hoop earrings. To be a gaucho, a boy might wear dark trousers, a colorful shirt, and a cumberbund.”
  • A space party: “By Jupiter—be the first one in your crowd to give an out-of-this-world party! This is not as mad as it sounds. The day will come when travel to outer space will be as everyday as going for a spin in the family car.”

Sample Refreshments:

  • For New Year’s Eve, hot buttered soup, made with eight cans of condensed tomato soup and seasoned with lemon juice, cinnamon, and cloves. “Serve hot with a pat of butter floated on the top.”
  • For Valentine’s Day, tuna tomatoes. Combine two cans of chunk-style tuna with a can of cream of mushroom soup. Season with salt and pepper. Use mixture as filling for eight hollowed-out tomatoes, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • For a space party, deviled ham missiles. Spread deviled ham on half a hot dog bun. Slice a cheese wedge in half lengthwise and insert it at one end of the bun. Insert two carrot sticks at the other end. Top with other half of bun.

Sample Party Games Titles That Sound More Interesting Than the Games Actually Are: Bottoms Up, Scrambled Anatomy, Elopement, Murder.

About the Author: I would love to share a complete biography of Gay Head that included her childhood at Newport, her lively debutante days, and her marriage to a shipping magnate. Alas, Miss Head never existed. The Library of Congress entry for this book suggests that Gay Head was a pseudonym for Margaret Hauser. I can’t find any information about Hauser, except that she edited Scholastic’s Co-Ed Magazine from the 1950s through at least 1970. She also wrote articles under the Gay Head pseudonym for Scholastic magazine in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Interestingly, though, Hauser was not the only Gay Head. On October 21, 2002, USA Today published an interview with Ruth Imler Langhinrichs. “From 1948 to 1952,” the article states, “Langhinrichs used the pseudonym Gay Head to answer teens’ questions in a column in Scholastic magazine called ‘Boy Dates Girl.’”

It seems that Gay Head must have been a in-house pseudonym, used by various Scholastic writers. The occasion for Langhinrichs’ interview was the release of Steve Coulter’s short film The Etiquette Man, based on the book Boy Dates Girl, a compilation of Gay Head columns. Boy Dates Girl was first published in 1937, with updated printings through the mid-1960s.

Langhinrichs, at least, looks back fondly on her Gay Head days, according to USA Today: “Her years as Gay Head were happy times, she says. They helped her become an editor for teens at Ladies’ Home Journal, where she wrote a column titled Sub-Deb — as in not-quite-a-debutante. Langhinrichs still collects lore on social civility and manners. She works two days a week as a writing coach at Indiana’s Purdue University.”

To the delight of bloggers everywhere, “Gay Head” wrote several other teen advice books, including You’re Asking Me? and Hi There, High School.

We’ll be seeing more of her in future weeks.

Previous entries in this series

Weird Words of Wisdom: Prettily Bewildered Edition

Weird Words of Wisdom: Spanking New Edition