Weird Words of Wisdom: Attending to Our Bodily Housekeeping Edition

“Many girls feel that it is more delicate to neglect the care of the bowels than to attend to a daily evacuation, but if they would remember that it is just as indelicate to carry effete or dead matter around in the bowels as it would be to carry it upon the person in any other way, they would realize that it was only politeness and refinement to see that this part of their bodily housekeeping was attended to.”

What a Young Woman Ought to Know, 1913
By Mary Wood-Allen

Today, I would love to blog about a book with a Halloween theme. Unfortunately, Vincent Price never wrote an advice book for teens. (He did, however, write a cookbook.) So, the scariest thing that we can do is travel a century into the past to see what the day’s leading authorities were telling girls.

About this Book and Its Author: Born in 1841, Dr. Mary Wood-Allen was a physician and the World Superintendent of the Purity Department of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (isn’t that an imposing-sounding title?). She was a leading light of the social purity movement in late 19th and early 20th century America, and wrote many books advising girls and women about sexuality and health. Though her views seem far removed from today’s feminist thought, many feminists of her era supported the social purity cause. Social purists believed in giving young women information about sexuality (though they usually did so in an oblique way—they popularized “the birds and the bees” method of explaining reproduction). They also attacked the prevailing double standard that demanded purity from women but found it acceptable for men to visit prostitutes. Their alternative to the double standard was imposing Victorian standards of purity on both sexes.

Wood-Allen was in great demand as a lecturer, as an interesting biographical sketch from 1897 shows:

“At present Dr. Allen has her home in Toledo, Ohio, whence she goes forth into the lecture field. Glorious as has been her work for temperance, that which she has done, and is doing, for social purity is more beautiful. Upon this subject, so difficult to handle, she has spoken Sabbath evenings in many pulpits, and has received the unqualified praise of such noted clergymen as Dr. Heber Newton, Dr. Theodore Cuyler and Dr. Pentecost in the East, and Dr. McLean upon the Pacific coast. She manifests a peculiar fitness for giving wise counsel to girls, and has done acceptable work in this line in schools and colleges. During several winters, by invitation of Miss Grace Dodge, she has spoken to the Working Girl’s Clubs of New York City…Her mission in the work of reform and philanthropy demands a peculiar talent which she possesses in an unusual degree; a scientific education which enables her to speak with authority ; a winning presence ; a musical voice which makes itself heard in the largest building with no apparent effort, and which by its sympathetic quality arrests attention and touches the heart, while her words appeal to the reason, and a gentle womanly manner which converts the most pronounced opposer of woman’s public work. To those who hear her on the platform or in the pulpit, she is a living voice, alluring her hearers to lives of truth and purity, and to those who know her personally she is a sweet womanly presence, the embodiment of those graces which are the power in the home.”

Wood-Allen cites the views of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg several times in this book, and her general views on health seem to accord well with his: Enemas are good, coffee is bad, and “self-abuse” is a dire threat to physical and mental health.

Quotes from What a Young Woman Ought to Know

“The influence of tight clothing upon the pelvic organs is to displace them and create a great many difficulties which we know as ‘Female Diseases.’”

“If you waken unrefreshed (after a night’s sleep), I should want to inquire into your habits of life. Was there opportunity for fresh air to enter your room? Was there in it no uncovered vessel, no old shoes in the closet, no soiled underclothing, nothing that could contaminate the atmosphere? Did you eat a hearty supper late in the evening? Is your system oppressed with a superabundance of sweets?”

“Dancing is a most fascinating amusement, and if it only could be conducted under proper circumstances, it would be very delightful. In itself it is not so objectionable as in its concomitants; the late hours, the improper dressing, the hearty suppers in the middle of the night, the promiscuous association, and the undue familiarity of the attitude of the round dance are what make dancing objectionable.”

“I would like to call your attention to the great evil of romance-reading, both in the production of premature development and in the creation of morbid mental states which will tend to the production of physical evils, such as nervousness, hysteria, and a host of maladies which largely depend on disturbed nerves.”

“The modern play concerns itself principally with a delineation of those phases of life which we condemn when they become reality, and the teaching power of the stage becomes a lesson in wrongdoing which to the young and inexperienced is potent in its suggestiveness.”

On card playing: “The young woman who respects her own intellectual and moral powers will see little charm in manipulating cards in a way to gain a momentary success over another and perhaps arousing unkind feelings, it may be even passions, that may culminate in bloodshed.”

“When girls are so sentimentally fond of each other that they are like silly lovers when together, and weep over each other’s absence in uncontrollable agony, the conditions are serious enough for the consultation of a physician. It is an abnormal state of affairs, and if probed thoroughly, might be found to be a sort of perversion, a sex mania, needing immediate and perhaps severe measures.”

“A young husband exacted of his bride a promise that she would never take a glass of wine except in his company, and when asked the reason, replied that he knew that no woman’s judgment was to be trusted after taking one glass of wine.”

“…the daughter of drunken parents, very often attractive to some men by reason of their excitable, vivacious, neurotic manner, should be carefully avoided by young men in search of wives.”

“Idiocy and inebriety are on the increase among civilized peoples.”

“…while in the human being the procreative act does not kill, it exhausts, and no doubt takes from the vital force of those exercising it. One can feel justified to lose a part of her own life if she is conferring life upon others, but to indulge in such a waste of vital force merely for pleasure is certainly never excusable…”

“A young man may assure you most emphatically that he respects you none the less, although you allow him to hold your hand, or kiss you at parting, but he knows it is not true, and he will admit it to others rather than to the girl herself.”

“…in wedded life, all that is lasting in affection, in tender courtesy, in most intimate companionship, in sweetest demonstration, is possible without the physical union, which in itself is the most transitory of pleasures, but which in unlimited indulgence becomes the most domineering of passions, exhaustive of physical powers and of mental vigor, and absolutely annihilating all true love.”

What a Young Woman Ought to Know is so full of weirdness that you might want to read the whole thing. It’s in the public domain and available for free.

Read the whole Weird Words of Wisdom series.

Weird Words of Wisdom: The 5 Types of People Who Go All the Way Edition

“Just how advisable is it for a farm girl to date a city boy? The chief concern here seems to be her ability to handle a date who is more sophisticated than she is. The old story of the traveling salesman and the farmer’s daughter has some basis in the tendency of certain urban males to try to exploit the presumably more naïve country girl.”

The Art of Dating, 1967 (1969 printing) By Evelyn Millis Duvall with Joy Duvall Johnson

About the Authors: Evelyn Millis Duvall, according to this book’s back cover, was “known nationally and internationally as a top-ranking authority on sex and family life education.” She was no intellectual slouch—she earned a Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of Chicago, and she was a Fellow of the American Sociological Association, which sounds impressive. Her earlier book The Facts of Life and Love for Teenagers went through many printings in the 1950s and 1960s. Her daughter, Joy Duvall Johnson, assisted her in writing this book. She was a University of Chicago graduate, too, with a master’s degree in “social group work.”

About This Book: Having read both this book and The Facts of Life and Love for Teenagers, I’ve found that two qualities distinguish Duvall in the advice-giving game: She has a research-based approach and an obsessive love of detail.

You can see the first quality in the many studies that she cites and statistics that she offers. Here is a fairly typical Duvall passage:

“Professors Kirkpatrick and Caplow found that the most usual course of love is one starting with mutual indifference and moving upward through attraction to love, and either dropping again to indifference, with the broken love affair, or remaining in love at a high level of mutual involvement. One out of every five love affairs studied is irregular in its course, with unpredictable shifts from love to hate to indifference to liking in various combinations throughout the history of the relationship. Somewhat fewer young men and women experience an even more vacillating kind of love that is off-again-on-again, with ups and downs like a roller coaster’s.”

Her love of detail pervades the entire book, which explores dating from every possible angle. Take her guidelines, for instance, about a movie date:

  • Paying for the tickets: “While the fellow buys the tickets, the girl steps aside and looks at the stills outside to avoid the boy any embarrassment he may feel at the ticket window.”
  • Walking in to the theater: “If there is no usher, the boy precedes the girl down the aisle, finds two seats, and steps aside so that the girl may be seated first; he then follows and seats himself behind her.”
  • During the film: “…throwing popcorn or paper, or otherwise behaving like a nuisance, is rude and crude.
  • Getting refreshments: “At (intermission) the boy may ask his date what she would like, then excuse himself while he gets it…If his budget doesn’t call for this extra, a boy should come prepared with some little offering to take the place of purchased refreshments, such as candy from a roll or mints or a stick of gum. The girl accepts the offer graciously without hinting that she would like something else.”
  • Acceptable affection: “The boy may hold the girl’s hand if she has no objection or place his arm over the back of her seat.”
  • Talking: “They may whisper their reactions to the picture or comment to each other about the characters or plot, so long as they neither embarrass each other nor annoy their neighbors.”
  • Leaving the Theater: “…the boy helps the girl into her wraps and waits is the aisle until the girl emerges and precedes him out of the theater. Then, the boy may suggest stopping at a soda fountain, if he wishes, or if it’s early, the girl may invite him to her home for ‘cake and milk’ or whatever she and her family have agreed upon for an evening snack.”

Whew! I was the most socially awkward teenager who ever lived, and even I wouldn’t have needed that much help to get through a simple movie.

Despite her scientific bent, Duvall occasionally lapses into flights of fancy that seem to be inspired by movies rather than real life, circa 1967. In addition to warning about the great urban-rural dating schism, she predicts soap-opera-esque consequences for dating outside one’s social class. She even cites the 1940 movie (or 1939 novel) Kitty Foyle to demonstrate the latter situation’s pitfalls!

Decoding a Previous Owner: A previous owner of my book went crazy underlining passages and scribbling in his or her own, sometimes smug, notes. At first I assumed this mad scribbler was a teenage reader, and it surprised me that any teen was taking this book so seriously in 1969. Then I started to notice that the underlinings included portions aimed at both girls and boys, and I wondered if the reader was a parent, teacher, or some kind of minister. Finally, I hit upon a note that confirmed a church affiliation: Below a passage that described church ladies hosting an after-prom party, my scribbler wrote, “Possibility for our women.” Oh, the fun of reading used books!

More quotes from The Art of Dating

“When the boy on the hill dates the girl from across the tracks, the general public is apt to assume that it’s because she is willing to let him take more liberties with her than would a girl from his own social group.”

Possible dating activity: “An old-fashioned taffy pull lends itself to hilarious, if sticky, informality.”

“Currently some segments of the young adult population try to express their individuality by extremes in hair style and dress. However young people respond to this, most want an attractive date. On one college campus, the men revolted against the trend of certain co-eds to be unkempt. They protested that they wanted girls to look feminine. Most fellows would agree.”

Dating costs: “College men find it often costs close to $5 for a ‘movie and malt’ date.”

Really? Just as responsible?: When you step into a car, you are just as responsible as the driver for what goes on…If (a girl) lets the boy drive too fast, she shares the guilt if an accident occurs.

Warning—writing about illegal drugs may be a gateway to abusing quotation marks: “Some teen groups have ‘parties’ where drugs provide ‘entertainment.’ At these parties teens are often exploited by dope peddlers who ‘contribute’ marijuana. Young people might be tempted to try a ‘reefer.'”

Smart girls: “Boys worry less about dating girls inferior to them in intellect, since it is generally expected that a girl won’t be as intelligent as the boy she dates. Indeed this is emphasized so strongly that a superior girl may find that if she has a reputation as a ‘brain,’ boys are afraid to date her. Such a girl may pretend to be dumber than she is on a date…But there are girls who resent having to ‘put their brains on ice,’ so they only go out with boys who like them as they are, who admire intelligence and are not threatened by a girl’s superior mental ability. A girl who dates a boy who is not her intellectual equal must decide whether she dares to be herself or whether she must put on an act.”

(You would think that two female, University-of-Chicago-educated social scientists might take a firmer stand on which is the right choice, but they let matters rest there.)

The five kinds of people who “go all the way” before marriage:

1. “The Unconventional person with few or no religious roots.”

2. Young people from the lower socioeconomic classes. (“In general, the middle-class girl or boy values chastity more highly.”)

3. People desperate for love and acceptance.

4. Rebellious types.

5. People who are deeply in love but, for some reason, cannot marry.

“The more mature girl knows that she doesn’t need to resort to either slapping or running in order to deal with the too amorous boyfriend. She wards off unwelcome behavior with a firm refusal to cooperate, accompanied by a knowing smile and a suggestion of some alternate activity. She may say, “Not now, Ambrose—let’s go get a hamburger; I’m hungry.”

Read the whole Weird Words of Wisdom series

Weird Words of Wisdom: Betty Betz and Vintage Teen Etiquette That Rhymes Edition

This is the latest installment in my Weird Words of Wisdom series.

“As mother used to say, ‘Be pretty if you can, witty if you must—and pleasant if it kills you!’”

Your Manners are Showing: The Handbook of Teen-Age Know-How, 1946
By Betty Betz

About This Book: Your Manners are Showing differs from most vintage teenage advice books in one key way—it shows teens how to behave with copious illustrations by Betty Betz. Verses by Anne Clark accompany the pictures; in between the illustrations, Betz provides short chapters on topics ranging from money to “vice” (drinking and smoking). Etiquette in verse actually strikes me as a pretty handy aid for mastering tricky concepts, like who gets introduced to whom.

About the Author: Where do I begin? Betty Betz journeyed from Hammond, Indiana, prom queen to 1940s and ’50s queen of all media. She was a Midwestern swimming champion, and her high school classmates named her Most Popular Girl in their school of 1,800. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and earned a guest editorship at Mademoiselle, which became the first magazine to publish her drawings. She went on to work for Esquire and Harper’s Bazaar. Eventually, she began to specialize in teenagers, writing a syndicated advice column for them and publishing several books. Her illustrations of teenage life turned up on everything from stationery to scrapbooks to jewelry boxes.

She was married briefly to Josef Lanz, the Austrian fashion designer who popularized the dirndl dress, a 1940s teen wardrobe staple. His family owned Lanz of Salzburg, which still exists, producing mostly nightgowns.

In 1956, she married her second husband, Frank McMahon, whom Time described as an “oil-rich Calgary wheeler-dealer.” She raised two daughters and settled down into a life of charity work and Palm Beach socializing. Betz died in 2010.

Among the other highlights of her brief career:

  • She published comic book stories featuring “Dollface and Her Gang.” (Dollface’s best friend was named Bun Brain. Really.)
  • She marketed a line of teenage clothing that included a hideous but creative item called a blouse-slip. As a slip, you could lounge around in it at home. If company stopped by, you could wrap a skirt around yourself and be good to go.
  • She hosted a TV talk show that Billboard called “a routine and lifeless concoction, devoid of warmth or sincerity.”
  • She founded the Betty Betz Angels Club for her fans, who pledged “to show respect and consideration to everyone, regardless of race or color.”
  • She served as a Hearst correspondent during the Korean War, providing readers with insights like this one from July 29, 1951: “…what baffles me most of all is the fact that communist ‘wacs’ don’t care for perfume or lipstick.”
  • She published Manners for Moppets, an etiquette book for children, in 1962. At the time, her family shuttled among homes in Vancouver, New York City, and Palm Beach. “An English nanny and a private plane make commuting painless,” The Calgary Herald wrote. “Having complete wardrobes in each house so she doesn’t have to pack and unpack all the time and hiring temporary help for each house as she gets there are other time and trouble savers.” I’ll bet.

Weird Words of Wisdom from Betty Betz

For the most part, I’ll let Betz’ illustrations (and Clark’s verse) speak for themselves. I can’t resist including a few quotes, though.

On tipping: “At least ten percent of the total bill is a sufficient tip, but never leave less than ten cents per person.”

On saying goodnight: “There’s no excuse for a couple to stay out past midnight except for special parties, so make those good-nights short and sweet. Dawdling on the doorstep doesn’t get you anything but a razzing from the neighbors, and a black mark from the girl’s folks.”

On fashion for boys: “You’re no Percypants if you are particularly particular about which tie you wear with what suit, so give your clothes combos a little more thought…The best clothes for men are the traditional ones which never go out of style, so if (a salesman) tries to sell you Seabiscuit’s blanket for a sports jacket, tell him to give it back to the Indians.”

On shoes for boys: “If they’re scuffed with run down heels they label you right in the jerk department, so keep your booties laced and polished. When you buy shoes, get the strong and sturdy type which look more manly and last longer than the ‘cute and fancy’ styles. If it’s a dressup party, don’t wear your saddle shoes or moccasins, and never wear rubber soles for dancing.”

On fashion for girls: “If you think you can wear that dress three years from now and still adore it, it’s a good buy. But if it’s a poorly made ‘gag-rag,’ then don’t waste your money.”

On shoes for girls: “Exaggerated heelless or toeless siren sandals are downright unattractive on young legs, so avoid them.”

On girls’ accessories: “A neat purse, immaculate gloves, fresh handkerchiefs and simple, becoming hats are the classic equipment of fastidious and fascinating femmes.”

On where girls should turn for dating advice: “Say, your mother should know a little bit about it, since she managed to snare herself a pretty nice husband, and probably over some pretty high competition, too.”

Acceptable gifts for boys to give girls: Books, records, candy, flowers, a compact, or “your best photograph (unautographed, please).”

Acceptable gifts for girls to give boys: wallets, key chains, books, records, hand-knit socks, or “your prettiest picture.”

Traffic advice that cracks me up: When crossing streets, boys should walk on the side closest to traffic, “so that if there’s any mishap, he gets hit first.”

Wow! A Password?!: “There’s a password, ‘cabbage,’ which is used every time a boy doesn’t take the curb side of the sidewalk when he’s walking with one or more girls. Actually, there’s no need for a password, because every young man should automatically take the outside place without even thinking twice.”

On smoking: “If you like the taste of tobacco and your parents approve, there’s nothing harmful about smoking in moderation.

On drinking: “Light wines and beer are your best bet if you must drink something alcoholic. My favorite is a ‘Sherry Cobbler,” which sounds like a grownup drink, but actually is a plain lemonade with a little wine added.”

Recommended non-alcoholic drink if you want to appear to be drinking alcohol: A “Horse’s Neck”—ginger ale, with a slice of lemon peel.

On conversation: “My Mommy done told me that as long as I wasn’t really a brain-box, I should develop my ear for listening.”

And a final thought: “The trouble with etiquette books is that they’re like dentists…you never pay any attention to them until you’re in agony, and then often it’s too late.”

Read more Weird Words of Wisdom.

Weird Words of Wisdom: Where the Boys Are (You’d Better Wear a Skirt) Edition

Connie Francis (suitably skirted)

“Never wear slacks on a date, unless it’s a rugged outdoor picnic or an evening at an amusement park. Otherwise, I think slacks are an insult to a boy.”

For Every Young Heart, 1963

By Connie Francis

About the Book: We’ve encountered celebrity advice books before in this series, but Connie Francis is both our first female celebrity author. Of course, one always has to wonder how much “authoring” these celebrities did. Francis’ book feels more authentic than most. Her advice—both the good stuff and the weird stuff—feels specific and individual. Knowing little about Francis when I picked up this book, I quickly formed a clear mental image of her—tough, smart, moody, romantic, and ambivalent about her parents’ influence in her life.

About the Author: I’m always happy to write about an author who’s still alive. Connie Francis is a survivor, in every sense of the word. As a teenager, she appeared on a TV variety show called Startime Kids, and she received much criticism about her looks and weight during those years. Her recording career was slow to take off, and she was on the verge of giving up when American Bandstand made Who’s Sorry Now? her first hit in 1958. (She had brains to fall back on—she received a scholarship to New York University and was planning to study medicine.) And as an adult, she would endure many tragedies (which I don’t want to write about here, lest it ruin the mood for laughing at her fashion, beauty, and dating tips.)

Okay, Then—Let’s Start With Hair Care: “Going to the beauty parlor is an art in itself. Some ladies lean back, close their eyes, and snooze. Others read movie magazines or daydream. This is okay if you’re over forty and have money. But it’s not for you…Sit up and take notice.”

“Wash your hair with regular shampoo, rinse thoroughly, then soak with beer just before setting. It adds tremendous body to fine or limp hair.” (Note: You have to leave the beer, open, outside the refrigerator for two or three days prior to use.)

On Teasing Your Hair: “This is one of the most useful tricks a girl can learn. It involves back-combing the hair from underneath, which adds body, so that with very little curl you can make your hair look like something special. Right this minute, my hair needs setting, but if I had to go out unexpectedly I could whip it into a definite bouffant style by teasing, hold it with hair spray and breeze out for the evening with perfect confidence.”

On Washing Your Hair, Um, Frequently?: “My hair is very oily, so every three days it gets washed.”

On Fashion: “The little black dress or navy suit is the backbone of my wardrobe. I have five or six basic outfits that can go anywhere, from the office in the morning to dinner at the Stork Club and dancing at the Peppermint Lounge at night. The only change I need is a scarf or a piece of jewelry.

On Fashion for Petite Girls: “So instead of buying three strands, you buy one. Instead of the big chalk beads, you buy little ones. And if everything you wear is small, like you, you’ll have a larger overall appearance. Stay away from medium or heavy patterns, circular designs, and two-tone outfits. Verticals give you height. Solid colors, small all-over patterns, and lightweight, clingy fabrics are most flattering.”

On Makeup: “Dark minimizes, light accentuates…For instance, my nose is too wide, so I always use a darker makeup on its sides than on the rest of my face.”

On Lipstick: “For most women, this is a good rule: Darker by night, lighter by day, and always coordinated with the color of your outfit.”

On Brows: “The outer line of the eyebrow should end a 45-degree angle from the tip of your nose.”

On Eyeliner: “This is the most valuable cosmetic I ever found. After experimenting with many kinds, I think black pancake makeup is ideal.”

Getting Along with Boys

“…from the age of nine or ten, (a girl is) more alive, happier, and more of a person with a male around. It doesn’t matter how old he is—nine or ten like herself, twenty-two or eight-five, married or single. All he has to be is male.”

How 11-Year-Old Connie Learned “a New, Improved Formula for Getting Along with Men”: At a Halloween party, she encountered a boy named Eugene who had been picking on her at school:

“And then—whether it was the costume or the lipstick or the fact that I really did feel like a gypsy princess for one wonderful night—a strange thing happened. A lovely, soft, feminine feeling crept over me, transforming the glare to an angel’s smile. Instinctively, I minced forward, lowered my eyes shyly and cooed, “Hel-loo…”

“G-g-gosh!” Eugene breathed, “you look pretty!” “Oh,” I said coyly, “do you really think so?” Half an hour later, there I sat, perched on a cold radiator, collecting kisses from the stag line—and now it was the other girls turn to glare!”

Connie’s First Real Date: A showing of should It Should Happen to You with Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon, and a second feature of Francis Joins the WACS with Donald O’Connor. (She got so disgusted with her date’s loud guffaws that she stormed out of the theater and went home. If he was laughing at Francis Joins the WACS, I can understand her reaction.)

Telling Tales on Herself: That is one of several unflattering stories Connie tells about herself. Others include the times Connie:

•        Beat up a fellow seventh-grade girl

•        Got into a shoving match with an overweight male classmate on her first day of high school

•        Threw a cup of coffee across the room and stormed out the studio after recording Who’s Sorry Now?

Dating Don’ts

“There are certain places a girl should never go alone, or even with another girl—certain hangouts, bowling alleys, bars, and other places where boys tend to gather and girls don’t.”

“Don’t ever stand near a bar and talk. Never drink at a bar, even if you’re drinking ginger ale.”

“Most people can tell right away who’s a lady, just by the way she talks. And the quickest way to lower yourself in the eyes of anyone—a boy, especially, is to use even one unladylike word.”

“Every man likes a woman to allow him to be a man. Unfortunately, some women, especially in the United States, don’t allow men to be men. They do everything for themselves, because they’re always trying to prove how independent they are.”

“A woman who doesn’t expect the little courtesies isn’t a lady, and a man who doesn’t perform them isn’t a gentleman…I think an unmannerly man is 95 percent the woman’s fault.”

On Sharing Expenses on a Date: “Out. Not under any circumstances should a woman touch one nickel of her own money on a date, unless she’s stranded 50 miles from home and her date needs 15 cents for a subway token. But why get in such a silly fix, anyway?”

“A girl who goes out deliberately to get picked up lives dangerously. And most boys will assume that she’s what she probably is.”

Dating Dos

“Of course, the best way for a girl to be interesting to a boy is to be interested in him. I’ve sat through many an evening not knowing what on earth my date was talking about, but just nodding and smiling and looking at him very, very intently, and occasionally putting in a word of my own like ‘Really!’ or ‘My goodness!’—and he’s walked away thinking ‘Gee, what a brilliant conversation we had!’”

“Anyhow, not only does a kiss on the first date not compromise a girl’s reputation, but nowadays a boy expects it. That doesn’t make it right, of course, but it doesn’t make it wrong, either. A girl knows instinctively the kind of boy she can trust and the kind she can’t. She can sense when a boy respects her, and if a date doesn’t have any real feeling of warmth and friendship for you, he doesn’t deserve a kiss—or a second date, either.”

“The one unfailing way to let a boy know you like him is this: Tell him. I believe letting a boy know in a very lighthearted, casual way that won’t embarrass either of us…When we’re standing in line for a movie or waiting to get into a restaurant, I’ll say: ‘Know something? I like you,’ very casually, then change the subject.”

“As far as necking is concerned, there’s nothing wrong with it in moderation, if there’s a warm, respectful feeling between two people.”

Suggested questions to get dates to open up: “Are you a lonely person? Are you Happy? If you had 48 hours to yourself, what would you like to do most?”

Putting on the Brakes

“If a boy really loves you as much as he says, he’ll want to put a ring on your finger.”

“A girl can become sexually aroused just as quickly and irrationally as any boy. She wasn’t born with any handy ‘monitor’ that automatically helps her put on the brakes, but she has to develop one in her mind in order to protect her self-respect and reputation.”

(Connie wasn’t just talking the talk about chastity. In 1984, she told People Magazine that when she married her first husband, at age 26, it was because “because I wanted to have sex.” That marriage only lasted three months.)

With the Above Said, the Most Racy-Sounding Passage in the Book, if Taken Out of Context: “I finally had to force myself to have fun. I went to Europe and Las Vegas and forced myself to date one boy after another. I kept dating until I found the feelings I had for one or two boys weren’t so fantastic after all. I found, in fact, that I could feel just as happy and have just as good a time with 25 others.”

Connie’s First Real Love (Bobby Darin?): “I was in love in my teens, and at the time it was the most important thing in the world to me. Every day, because I was in love and my parents didn’t approve, there was an argument at home. School became secondary. My singing became unimportant compared to my feelings for this boy. The day was happy or sad depending on what he said to me or what I said to him, or what my parents said or didn’t say about him or me or us. Then, when we did break up, it took me just as long or longer to get over it.”

It’s tempting to assume she’s talking about Bobby Darin here. Certainly the part about parental disapproval fits. Here’s an exchange she had last year with Village Voice blogger Michael Musto:

Musto: Your father was extremely strict, right?

(Connie): He wasn’t just strict — he was a vigilante with every boy I had a milkshake with. I was not allowed to date in high school or go to the prom, and even in college he had a problem.

(Musto): Is it true he broke up you and Bobby Darin?

Connie: With a gun. He learned Bobby and I were starting to elope one night. We were 18, 19. I was doing the Jackie Gleason show and Bobby and I were cuddling in a corner. He barged through the rehearsal room of the Sullivan Theater with a gun in his pocket and a fierce determination to obliterate Bobby once and for all. One of the biggest regrets of my life is I didn’t marry Bobby.

In For Every Young Heart, some of Francis’ ambivalence toward her parents comes through. She describes how she taught herself shorthand because her mother was always snooping in her diary. She also talks about how she learned a confusing version of “the facts of life” in a whispered conversation with a girlfriend because her parents never told her anything.

“Every child has a right to know about life,” she asserts. “The day a youngster asks his first question about sex is the day he deserves an answer.”

Connie’s Ideal Husband: “He shouldn’t be overemotional, yet he must be very affectionate, responsive and warm. His laugh shouldn’t be so loud that everybody turns around to look, but he has to have a wonderful sense of humor. He has to be subtle and self-contained—the type who can say two words and I’ll understand; a man who can look at me across the room, and every look will mean something. Oh, yes, and he has to be very smart, alert, witty. He has to know he’s the boss without saying, ‘Listen here, I’m the boss.’ He can’t shout at me, but he’ll know just how to tell me what to do, because every woman loves to be ordered around the right way.”

Hmm. You start to get an inkling about why none of her four marriages lasted longer than five years.

More Wisdom from For Every Young Heart:

“The opinion that smoking is a drag—on your health, most of all—is pretty modern these days. Every day, new data piles up pointing to possible links between cigarettes and lung cancer.”

“If a boy has never been in a bar or never tried to drink or smoke by the time he’s out of his teens, he would be very unusual. These are things most boys have to experience in order to feel grown up and manly.”

“The only time a boy may have a feeling of responsibility for himself and girl is when he’s deeply in love, when he has a true feeling of respect for her, and when he’s far-sighted enough to think of the future, including the day they’ll want to get married with a fresh, wholesome start toward life together. But 99 percent of the time, the boy doesn’t feel this way, and that means the girl has to.”

“A girl must always have the kind of reputation that will make a boy very, very proud to take her home and introduce her to his mother.”

“…there’s just one reason for going steady, and that’s as a prelude to engagement.”

“Not only does a wife have to be a mother, friend, advisor, and scrubwoman—she must also never let her husband feel that it’s a great burden for her.”

“In my teens, I used to think it was the most important thing in the world for a woman to be tremendously independent. But I know now that no matter how independent you are, if you really love a man, nine times out of ten his wishes are more important than yours.”

“I will want nothing less than a big wedding, in a pretty church, with all my family and all my friends there to share it. That’s a girl’s one big day, and anybody who says you’re not entitled to it because it’s corny is not going to make the greatest or most understanding husband.”

If you enjoyed this post, read the whole Weird Words of Wisdom series!

Bonus Feature: Connie singing what I’m officially declaring the Weird Words of Wisdom theme song.

Bonus Feature 2: More advice from Connie! This article from the October 1961 issue of Teen Talk Magazine is called “Who Should Say No First?”

Weird Words of Wisdom: Crisp White Gloves Edition

“Above all, don’t arrive at the breakfast or dinner table, or go downtown shopping, with hair up and guard down. Boys (including fathers and brothers) should think that beauties are born, not made—even though all girls know better!”

The Co-Ed Book of Charm and Beauty, 1962 (1963 printing)

By the Editors of Co-Ed Magazine

About the Book: For the latest entry in my series on vintage advice books for teens, we turn to this Scholastic book club offering, chock full of advice for improving every aspect of a girl’s looks and personality. The fashion section makes me sad that I was born too late for hats and little white gloves, though I’m happy to live without girdles and curlers.

About the Authors: Scholastic published Co-Ed Magazine from 1957 to 1985. According to the New York Times, Co-Ed targeted girls in the home economics field. (Scholastic replaced the magazine with Choices, a classroom magazine for teens of both sexes, which still exists.) As we have seen in the past, Margaret Hauser edited Co-Ed Magazine for many years, and she and other Scholastic personnel often wrote advice books under the pseudonym Gay Head. It’s a shame they didn’t do so with this one—that name would make a lovely complement with the cover image.

Hair setting techniques, The Co-Ed Book of Charm and Beauty

Recommended Amount of Time to Devote to Bathing and Beauty Treatments: An hour each night, extended to two hours once a week and to three or four hours once a month for intensive maintenance.

Fashion Tips

“Short white gloves are never out of place, and there are many occasions when not to wear them would show a lack of good taste. Gloves are a ‘must’ at church, at weddings, and most really dress-up affairs.”

“A movie date, a stroll in the park, a casual gathering of your friends, or a shopping expedition should see you skirted casually, perhaps in the outfits you wear to school. A date that’s somewhat special, a church activity, concerts, the theater, and informal school dances call for a suit or that old stand-by, the basic dress…A basic dress takes to a hat, high heels, and crisp white gloves as well as to flat shoes and an all-purpose cardigan. It can go almost anywhere and be your Sunday best.”

“Special finery must be special all the way, from sparkling earrings and delicate bracelet to petite evening bag and satin, suede, or velvet slippers. Such grand occasions permit you to bare your neck and shoulders; to float in chiffon, taffeta, peau de soie, or fine cotton organdy; to wear a jeweled pin and stars in your eyes!”

“You’ll wear a hat to church, of course, but what’s the rule for other times? It’s good taste to wear a hat when traveling, on ‘downtown’ shopping trips, and whenever you know other women or girls will be wearing them.”

“When you’re within the walls of your home, don’t fall into the ‘nobody will see me’ rut. What about your family? What about the neighbors and store clerks who see you as you dash to the store on a last-minute errand for mother? They’ll view with horror, and remember with regret, the vision of you in pin curls, shirttail flying.”

Recommended at-home wear: Skirts or culottes, pants or Bermudas, with classic shirts or knit tops.

“On occasion, treat (your family) to the pleasure of seeing you in pretty separates or a dress at dinnertime—a ‘must’ if company is present.”

“Ankle socks or knee socks pair with sturdy school shoes, while you’ll want to wear nylons with soft ballet-type flats and little heels. Sneakers are for sports and after school.”

Make-up Tip: “A bit of petroleum jelly applied to eyelids, brows, and lashes, will make the eyes sparkle, lashes look longer, and brows stay neatly in place.” (I hate when my brows wander.)

Fragrance Recommendations by Personality Type

Single Floral: For girls who are “sweet, fragile, feminine.”

Floral Bouquet: For “the All-American girl, crazy for football and hi-fi, happy in the thick of things, always ready for fun.”

Spicy: For girls who are “alert, alive, mad for bright colors and songs with a beat.”

Woodsy-Mossy: For “the born athlete who lives in shorts and sweaters and delights in long walks in the rain.”

Oriental Blend: For “the intense, dramatic type of person who looks great in unusual jewelry, offbeat styles.”

Fruity: For “the quiet kind of girl who thinks more than she talks, enjoys soft music, serious books, daydreaming.” (I’m fruity, apparently.)

Modern Blend: Good if “you’re always on the go, always in the know, a clever girl with lots of zip and a wonderful sense of humor.”

Sample exercises

Clothes and Body Type:

“If you’re over five feet six inches tall and weigh 125 pounds or less, lucky you! You have the fashion model’s ideal figure.”
DOs for this type: Shirt-waist dresses, bold prints (including “coin-size polka dots”), large accessories.
DON’Ts: Too slim skirts, deep V necklines, vertical stripes.

Girls 5’6” and over, weighing “135 or thereabouts” (Anything higher than this is too terrible to contemplate, I guess)
DOs: Vertical and diagonal stripes, middy collars, cardigan tops, three-quarter sleeves, straight or gently flared skirts.
DON’Ts: Princess dress lines, pleated skirts.
“If you’re pining for a print, pick the ‘teeny-weeny’ polka dot, a calico, or baby-check ginghams.”

Girls 5’3” and under, weighing 105 or less
DOs: “The princess line, with its snug-fitting bodice and flared skirt,” straight sheaths, softly tailored suits, delicate buttons and jewelry, knife-pleated skirts.
DON’Ts: Bold-patterned prints, “suitcase-sized handbags.”

Girl 5’3” and under, weighing 115 or more
DOs: Skirts with “gentle gores or center pleats,” narrow self-belts, cardigan-topped outfits.
DON’Ts: Pencil-slim sheaths, ballooning skirts, deep V-necks, box pleats, overlong jackets, “giant trimmings.”

Sitting, Standing, and Walking Attractively

Sitting: “Try the S curve. Knees together (always—even when wearing shorts or slacks), place your thighs diagonally across the seat of the chair, your legs in the opposite direction, and cross your feet at the ankles.”

Standing: “Stand with correct posture, feet parallel. Step back with one foot and point that toe out at a forty-five degree angle. Keep the front foot straight, the heel a couple of inches away from the instep of the back foot, and turn your hips slightly toward the back foot (so that they present a slim line).”

Walking: “Beware of arms swinging, taking too long (or short) a stride, letting your chin lead and your derriere follow as it may…Your ‘bounce’ should be less than two inches…If you consciously let your fingertips brush your skirt as you walk, you’ll avoid that ‘swinging out’ look.”

Fearless Charm Inventory: The book includes inventories to help girls assess their charm levels. To the authors’ credit, they include prejudice, along with shyness and laziness, as a barrier to charm. The original owner of my book was not prejudiced or lazy, just shy.

Goody! Quizzes!: The book also includes quizzes on humor, tact, family interactions, and dating etiquette. Quizzes were always my favorite part of teen magazines. I think the wrong answers on the tact quiz may be a wee bit too obvious, though:

“I should have known you were sick because…”

a.)    You look so awful.

b.)    I missed seeing you around.

c.)    Sally’s been dating your boyfriend.

Final Fun Fact, Courtesy of the Authors: “The word grooming comes from gromet, an old French word meaning ‘servant’ or ‘assistant.’ Before you jump to the wrong conclusion, bridegroom comes from a combination of two Anglo-Saxon words: ‘bryd’ (bride) and ‘guma’ (man)!”

Weird Words of Wisdom: Big Splendid Manhood Edition

“There are many silly, flashy, worthless, and even evil girls who think the boys they desire are their legitimate prey. Often such girls appear to be superficially the most fascinating. They know the art and trick of making the most of their charms. Nothing will so definitely put a boy in a wrong light before a whole school or community, as friendships and associations with ‘fast’ girls. Give them all a wide berth.”

Marked Trails for Boys by Frank H. Cheley, 1931

About the Book: We’ve looked at several books for girls in my weekly series on advice manuals for teenagers, and we’ve seen the double standards and mixed messages girls have received about growing up. Well, this book proves that boys sometimes traveled a confusing path as well. Author Frank H. Cheley doesn’t want his young readers to be wishy-washy, namby-pamby, weak-willed sissy boys, but he does want them to be perfect gentlemen at all times.

About the Author: Frank H. Cheley was an outdoors enthusiast who believed that camping, hiking, and other outdoor experiences helped young people develop good character. After working with boys through the YMCA, he founded his own boys’ summer camp in the Colorado mountains in 1921. He added camp activities for girls in 1926. His many books for young people often used hiking and exploring as metaphors for life’s struggles. More than 90 years later, the Cheley family still runs Cheley Colorado Camps. Frank H. Cheley left behind a wonderful legacy.

(Of course, I’m still going to cherry-pick the most dated and silly-sounding quotes in his book for cheap laughs. Maybe if I’d gone to a better summer camp, I’d be above this sort of thing.)

Most unintentionally dirty-sounding passage this book: When a boy waits for true love, he will find himself “ready with a big splendid manhood to offer in return for the devotion and companionship of a splendid girl.”

Second most unintentionally dirty-sounding tidbit: “Then there is Sister…Some other boy will be discovering, almost before you know it, that ‘she is one girl in a thousand.’ Why not beat him to it? A fellow who is half alive can learn many, many things from his sister, if they are on right terms.”

Something you wouldn’t want to hear from a summer camp director nowadays: “One of the very finest things in all the world is a fresh, clean-cut, upstanding, eager-eyed boy, filled to overflowing with physical power and nervous energy, seeking a suitable world to conquer.”

Some of Cheley’s favorite adjectives for describing the ideal boy: Vigorous, lithe, red-blooded, clean (morally, although he does make the usual advice-book pitch for deodorant and shampoo), splendid, pure, fine-spirited.

Cheley’s favorite names for a less-than-ideal boy: Molly-coddle, jelly bean, lounge lizard, coward, do-nothing.

Most depressing way to urge kindness toward friends: Be generous in your praise…Your friends will be a long time dead.

Cheley’s favorite role model for boys: Teddy Roosevelt.

The two kinds of boys (or maybe dogs—this part is kind of confusing): “The thoroughbred leads the party to the top; head high, eyes shining, teeth set, muscles quivering from giving their best; a true fighter who loves the battle. The house pet snuggles into an overstuffed davenport by the radiator and asks mildly for toast and tea.”

Cheley’s recommendations for good health:

•             Simple, plain food

•             Vigorous outdoor work and play

•             “Keeping digestion active”

•             Sleeping regularly in the open air

•             Avoiding patent medicines

Other quotes from Marked Trails for Boys

“A loud, noisy, boisterous boy who is inclined to be a bit smart is very tiresome. No one likes a ‘cutie.’”

“Of course, a worthy person never tells a ‘dirty story.’ It simply cannot be done without the loss of your self-respect…The boy that tells such is advertising that he is rotten at the heart, the boy who listens to one is yellow; he has no convictions worthy of a gentleman.”

“There is no finer little thoughtfulness that a boy can show for his mother than to early form the habit of taking her often, even one flower.”

“A boy, to enjoy fine girl friendships, must always and at all times be a gentleman, courteous, chivalrous, not a long-faced,  pious goody-good. Girls admire real vigorous, masculine men, but gentlemen. To forget for a moment the fine properties is to coarsen and spoil a beautiful relationship.”

“Real folks have nothing but scorn for a spooney boy, and fine girls invariably resent being pawed over. Only cheap, undesirable girls tolerate it.”

“Have always a grand, good, glorious time; be a regular boy. Everyone despises a sissy.”

“Fine boys everywhere have a real responsibility for influencing girls in their crowds to fine, womanly conduct.”

“Take a good disposition to the study table. Say, ‘Come now, Mr. Algebra and Madame Latin, I’m ready to lick the tar out of both of you.’”

Weird Words of Wisdom: Mad for Van Johnson Edition

“A gal can’t find out what makes the world go round unless she gets around a bit herself!”

Personality Plus by Sheila John Daly, 1946

About the Book: We’re going back a bit further into teenage-advice-manual history today, back to the very birth of the American teenager. Jon Savage, author of Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture, says the word teenager came into common use in 1944.

“From the very start,” Savage writes, “it was a marketing term that recognized the spending power of adolescents…the fact that youth had become a market also meant that it had become a discrete, separate age group with its own peer-generated rituals, rights and demands.”

Personality Plus was written for teenagers, by a teenager, who opens the book by arguing that her peers’ spending habits and rituals do not define them:

“According to the popular conception, a gal just isn’t on the ball unless she drinks a couple of cokes a day, is mad for Van Johnson and Robert Walker and is swayed pro and con by Frank Sinatra. And the average Joe has missed the train by a mile unless he knows which band leaders play which instruments, wears bright reindeer sweaters, has lengthy phone conversations each evening and rides around after school in an old, violently painted jalopy.”

Daly knows, however, that teenage preferences are powerful—she sprinkles liberal pop cultural references throughout her book.

Number of Van Johnson References in Personality Plus: Eight. Van Johnson tied with Bing Crosby as the top box office draw in 1945. He was a bobby-soxer favorite; as his New York Times obituary said, “The numbers of screaming teenage girls who swooned for Mr. Johnson were second only to those who threw themselves at Frank Sinatra.”

Other Celebrities Mentioned in Personality Plus:

Vaughn Monroe

Gene Kelly (twice)

Robert Walker (twice)

Frank Sinatra (twice)

Betty Grable

Ingrid Bergman

Fred MacMurray

June Allyson

Harry James (four times)

Walter Pidgeon

Lana Turner

Humphrey Bogart

Woody Herman

Perry Como

Joan Leslie

Johnny Mercer

Johnny Weissmuller

About the Author: I think I kinda love Sheila John Daly, an ambitious and talented woman from a family of ambitious and talented women. One of her three older sisters, Maureen Daly, wrote the classic teenage romance Seventeenth Summer. Maureen also wrote a teenage advice column for the Chicago Tribune, which Sheila took over when Maureen went to work for Ladies Home Journal. By the time Sheila was 21, her column was reaching 10 million readers in 36 newspapers, and she had authored four books.

As a teenager herself, Daly avoided a preachy tone in Personality Plus. Instead of railing against “necking,” she reminded readers that getting too affectionate on double dates could make the other couple uncomfortable. Instead of banning smoking and drinking, she warned party guests against “dumping cigarette ashes between the davenport cushions” or raiding the hosts’ wine cellar.

Not much of her advice actually qualifies as weird. It’s entertaining, though, in the vivid picture it creates of 1940s teenage life. (The book’s glossy illustrations are also charming.) Consider this comment about teenage slang:

“‘Smooth’ is an interesting adjective which came into the high school vocabulary about five years ago, and when it did, about a dozen other words dropped out of common use, for ‘smooth’ is an accepted synonym for them all…Smooth can mean anything from pretty, poised, attractive and full of personality to just plain intelligent; it can even take the place of a whole sentence, explaining that a fellow or girl is a good dancer, a sharp date, an interesting conversationalist, or a fine hunk of heartbreak—all in one word.”

At times, Daly has a nicely snarky tone, as in her rules for losing friends and alienating people:

  • “Make yourself the center of attraction always. Make money the principal topic of your conversation. Match every anecdote that someone tells you with one of your own—just a bit better, just a bit more king-sized.
  • “Get the habit of talking about your friends…Don’t put your thoughts in black and white, just drop the hint and leave the others to twist the remark around to exactly what you meant it to mean. Those catty girls—how could they.
  • “Speak up. Then give the excuse: ‘I can’t help it. I’m just frank, that’s all.’”

If she were a young woman today, Sheila John Daly would probably have a lively blog and a huge Twitter following.

My Favorite Sheila John Daly-isms: “Any fellow old enough to select his own shirts and ties is man enough to give his own best glen-plaid slacks a once-over-lightly with the iron or to sponge the coke stain off his red striped tie. So whip out the ironing board and iron, fellows, and get to work—your wardrobe is showing.”

“If the right boys don’t ask you to have fun, if you can’t find anyone to move into the hand-holding department with you, well—have fun without boys. And you can have more fun than you think! Find yourself several good girl friends; try enjoying a movie with them on a Saturday night. Develop a hobby, get interested in sports, read all the books you’ve wanted to read for so long, find an after-school job.”

Final Fun Facts: I couldn’t find much information on Sheila John Daly’s career any later than this 1959 Life article. I do know that her married name was Sheila Daly White and that (yay!) she’s still alive. And if, as seems certain, this blogger’s aunt is the same Sheila Daly White, she really is a very “smooth” lady.

Other Quotes from Personality Plus:

On ways to meet boys: “Putting in an appearance at school basketball games to do a little lung-and-tongue exercise to cheer the fellows on to a higher score isn’t a bad idea, either, because some of the smoothest characters play forward on the cage five and they get a kick out of being appreciated!”

On preparing for a date: “…plan your schedule far enough in advance so that you won’t be caught with an unpressed skirt and your hair still in curlers when the doorbell rings.”

On corsages: “Use originality in your choice. Remember there are other flowers besides gardenias! Try a camellia in season, a cluster of violets, or two long-stemmed red roses.”

On the rules of dancing: “…a girl who is already dancing should never refuse to change partners when a boy cuts in…the partner who was first dancing with a girl must not cut back on the boy who took her from him, though he can cut in on a third fellow. Also (to avoid trouble!) he must not continue to cut in on the same fellow when the latter dances with other girls!”

“A formal dance calls for a certain dignity and even if you’re jitter-bugging at a sweater hop in the school gym, don’t claim more than your share of the floor.”

On curfews: “Another good reason for an earlier zero hour is the fact that the ‘healthiest’ part of the evening is always from about eight to twelve. The main event, the dance or the movie, is usually over by that time, a sandwich and a malt won’t take more than forty-five minutes, and after that–? A smart fellow and girl will start for home, and because you’re smart, too, you won’t have to ask why!”

“Many leading movie stars go to bed each night at nine when making a picture because they know you can’t win Oscars with circles under your eyes.”

A sign that he’s in love: “He has his class ring made smaller so that it’s just the right size for your third finger, right hand. (And that’s where all the gals are wearing them these days.)”

A party refreshment idea: “Heat hamburger buns in your oven until they are warm and toasty. Wrap one strip of bacon around a cube of American or pimento cheese and put it under the broiler of the oven until the bacon is crisp and cheese soft and toasted. Then pop the sizzling combination into the hot buns, serve with hot cocoa topped with marshmallow and you’ll soon see a quick disappearing act.”

On hair: “Whether you’re wearing your hair in a long bob, a fluffy feather cut, or in quaint pigtails with bright red bows, that old routine of ‘one hundred strokes a night, keep your hair healthy and bright,’ with frequent and thorough shampoos between, is the best way to give it that magazine ad slickness.”

On telephone etiquette: “Whenever possible, wait for boys to call you. Even with a hundred poles and a lot of wire in between, a fellow can tell when your line is out for him. And a smooth boy won’t want to get tangled up in it.”