Back in time: graduating from school taught etiquette and grace Lifestyle

Recently, talking to a colleague, we watched as several women passing by spoke loudly in the language of drunken sailors, dressed in stingy costumes and showing off a few tattoos. This experience led me to share an incident involving a colleague who delivered a “lovely” young lady to New York on a subway liner to a five-star restaurant where the waiters were dressed in tuxedos with tails. When he and his date made the order, he noticed that she was uncomfortable when she looked at the menu, so he made the order. My colleague ordered the soup and realized he had made a mistake when it was set before the date. She stared at the soup, stared at it and, staring at the soup again, did the unthinkable; she took a bowl and drank the soup. What happened in this situation, as well as what was discussed with my colleague about the inappropriate behavior observed in the ladies noted earlier, brought me back to a time when young ladies knew better and expected them to do things. ” like ladies ”, especially because of home training. At the time, a lot of proper affiliation was learned from parents, and sometimes in “finished schools” or schools of magic,

I believe that the non-female behavior, as well as the incident at the restaurant described above, speaks to the need to return to school. What do you know about graduating or charming schools? Do you know their history and origins? Do you have a more than superficial idea of ​​what these schools actually did or are doing today? In the article “Graduation from school for girls” Neil Kokemüler notes that graduation is a formal curriculum that helps young women become more polished personally and professionally before entering college or entering the world of work. The early schools of the late 1800s were full-time and focused on preparing young women to become polished, perfect wives, and secular women. Miss Porter School was one of the primary schools founded in 1843 by Sarah Porter, the daughter of a minister. Her goal was to teach young women to become principled adults and good wives and mothers.

The Final Touch Finishing School website notes that it focuses on four key disciplines of refined image: grace, elegance, confidence and strength. I know some of you think; the final schools were for the wealthy and were not popular in the lives of blacks. Well, that’s not the case, as blacks once graduated from schools, many of which belonged to them.

I searched the archives of The Tribune for information about graduating from school and came across many articles on the subject. An article from February 25, 1964, covered the manufacture of fashion for children, teens, and adults at Heritage House, 1346 North Broad Street in Philadelphia, and at the Vera Gan School of Charm, a popular charm school in the past. Another article covered the school of charm and modeling Ruth Harper.

Although many charm schools have appeared in the archives, my attention was really drawn to an online article from October 18, 2013 about the charm school in Motown. I learned that Maxine Powell runs the only in-house school on any American label. Ms. Powell explained that when she opened the school in 1964, her goal was to help Motown artists develop the class and know what to do on stage and beyond. Most of the artists came from humble beginnings, and Mrs. Powell, a former actress, model, manicurist, beautician and founder of the Black modeling agency, was hired by Motown to help hone the public images of her artists. Her official title was “development of artists”, but her responsibilities were much broader. She taught Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Tammy Terrell, Smokey Robinson and other top performers of the Motown family how to present themselves during interviews, speeches and public appearances offstage. Interestingly, when they were in Detroit, Motown singers had to attend two-hour classes with Powell, studying public performances, posture, gait, stage presence, etiquette and personal care. She even taught performers to sit in a limousine or on a stool at a bar with a short dress. She wanted women to be “feminine”. She wished Motown artists could hold up properly if they were ever invited to the White House or Buckingham Palace.

Some of you may have been inclined to graduate or enchant schools, but not all could afford it. You may have noticed that I used the terms finishing and charm of the school interchangeably. However, I learned that only authorized vocational and technical institutions that issue legal diplomas should use it to graduate. Some of you remember how your parents made up for the inability to attend school by practicing regularly at home. You have learned to set the dining table, require your male friend to open the door for you or go outside when you walk down the street, never chew gum or smoke in public and many other behaviors similar to women. Some of you even remember that you need to practice walking with a book on your head to work out a good posture.

Yes, graduation saw its day because of the increasing financial demands of parents and the changing roles of women. Today, women have much more independence and freedom. However, some schools of charm and decoration still exist, and many have been merged with fashion schools. I suspect some of you, like me, would welcome the return of graduation to improve the lifestyle of young ladies and yes, young guys who were widely popular at the time.

Alonso Kittrell can be reached at or The Philadelphia Tribune, Back In The Day, 520 South 16th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146 The views expressed in this column are not necessarily the views of The Philadelphia Tribune.

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