Smiling In Hello-Land: 1921 Telephone Etiquette For The Social Elite

Doing research for last week’s Thursday Doors post I fell down a rabbit hole that had zilch to do with what I was supposed to be learning about.

[I’m sure you’re not surprised, are you?]

However this tangent was not in vain. I found something unique + entertaining, meant for a blog post, as you will see.

Keep reading.

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The following came from Mrs. Devereux’s Blue Book of Cincinnati Society, the go-to source for lists of club members and their home addresses for the social elite circa 1921.

Below are little snippets of telephone etiquette advice printed at the bottom of some pages in Mrs. Devereux’s book.

These snippets, put there by the printer I imagine, filled the page with text, while at the same time SUBTLY TEACHING THE SOCIAL ELITE HOW TO POLITELY USE the newfangled thing called a telephone.

These six little snippets tell a charming instructive story that I’ve transcribed at the bottom of this post.  It is a story, in fact, that I’ve gone so far as to dub: How to be a Gracious Member of the Grand Army of Telephone Users.


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How to be a Gracious Member of the Grand Army of Telephone Users

Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life it is easy to lose the better things– the finer qualities.  About the cheapest abuse in the world is the abuse of people at the other end of a telephone wire.  It is the trait of a gentleman– the proof of good breeding– just to smile when you telephone.

The voice with the smile is the voice that wins.  The smiling man or woman who uses the telephone in a sensible way always enjoys the best service.  They never get the hydrophobia when delays occur in answering a call.  Quite often the operator is not responsible for delays.  To complete quick service the party called must immediately respond.  

Did you ever see the Girl at the Switchboard during the rush hour?  If you did you never would kick again.  Some of the people who are loudest in their criticisms would drop dead of heart disease if they were under the strain which is just part of the everyday life in Hello-Land.

There are some people who in ordinary ways of life keep within the bounds of calmness and sanity, but they shy at a telephone and look upon it as the vent for all the accumulated spleen of generations of grouches.  The Supreme Court of New York has ruled that telephones may be taken out if abusive language is used by the subscriber.

Edward W. Bok, editor of the “Ladies’ Home Journal,” declares that one sure sign of an imminent nervous breakdown is a disposition to lose temper when delays occur in telephoning.  When you feel inclined to go to pieces at the ‘phone– consult a doctor.  You have rung a danger signal for yourself every time you growl over the ‘phone.

The great majority of the Grand Army of Telephone Users know the value of keeping sweet.  It is a pleasure to serve them.  They have sensed the disaster that lurks in the poison which is generated in one’s own system every time a fit is cultivated.  It saves doctor bills to smile when you phone. 

The End

Fred the Monkey & Sandrine the Bear’s Fun Afternoon

[The following story is my entry in evilsquirrel13’s The Second Annual Contest of Whatever.  Please enjoy!] 

Fred the Monkey & Sandrine the Bear’s Fun Afternoon

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Fred the Monkey was bored.


All day it had snowed outside while he was stuck inside Grandpa Aloha and Grandma Mahalo’s house.  He wanted someone to play with, so he asked them if he could call Sandrine the Bear and invite her over to play games.

Grandpa and Grandma said that it was okay.


Sandrine arrived at the front door wrapped in her mother’s scarf.  She looked pretty and was warm.  Sandrine was ready to have fun.


Fred suggested that they play an easy game first.  He found Grandma Mahalo’s Tic-Tac-Toe game and the friends started to play it.


Because Sandrine was his guest, Fred let her go first.  She was “X.”


Fred was “O.”


Grandpa Aloha looked on as they played.  He loved to watch the kids goof-off just like he did growing up in Hawaii.

Suddenly, he realized that down in the basement there might be his favorite game for the kids to play.  He went downstairs and searched.


When Fred and Sandrine saw what Grandpa Aloha had found for them to play, they were delighted.  Grandpa’s favorite old-time game was Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.


Sandrine got to pick her side first.  She was “Red Rocker.”


Fred was “Blue Bomber.”


But after many exciting rounds of the game, both monkey and bear were ready for a snack.  They’d had enough fun punching each other.

Fortunately, Grandma Mahalo was more than happy to make them some tea and serve it with cookies.


Then it was time for Sandrine to go home, but the friends decided to do one last silly thing before she left.  They took a selfie with Buddha so that they’d have a photo to remind them of their fun afternoon playing games together.


~ The End ~

The Unsolved Case Of The Purloined Tomatoes

As I was walking around the back of the house on a bright and sunny summer morning I noticed that a red ripe tomato from my container garden on the deck above had fallen onto the path below.


Curious as always I wondered: How did that happen?  


So I walked up onto the deck where I discovered more tomatoes off the vine.  Tomatoes with little teeth-y marks on them.  Tomatoes that seemed to have somehow fallen from the vine prematurely.

– • –

Immediately my mind went to our favorite sneak resident squirrel, Fuzzy.  So I bided my time and waited to talk with him when he stopped by for his daily afternoon visit.


After we exchanged the usual pleasantries, I looked him straight in the eye and asked: Fuzzy, do you notice anything different around here?  There seems to have been a crime committed.  A theft.  

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To his credit Fuzzy took the time to look around before he denied all culpability in the crime.  He looked to his left.


He looked to his right.


He glanced immediately below onto the deck.


Then he suggested that the real culprit in this crime was that nasty old raccoon who lives in the old tree on the other side of the ravine.

– • –

When I mentioned that the nasty old raccoon hadn’t been seen in years and was presumed dead, and therefore incapable of stealing green or red tomatoes, Fuzzy ignored me.  This was of no concern to him.


Having answered my questions to his satisfaction, Fuzzy then set about doing that which he had come to do: he started licking the terra-cotta pot to get his afternoon salt feast.


And I was left with the impression that I’d been conned once again by Fuzzy the Squirrel.

– • – 

A Bear Went Across The River To See Who He Could Court


There’s a WHAT? WHERE?  


• • •

They tell us that this rarely happens.  That’s what they say.

I mean, I’ve lived in southern Ohio for 25+ years and it’s a first.

Rather like the nighttime burglars who scared us into turning our lights on & speaking with one another.

Shocking, really.

Of course, the human miscreants have been nabbed.  Put in the hoosegow.  Sent away for bothering us here in suburbia.

• • •

But this fellow

is getting away with anything and everything that he can…

because the authorities don’t want to mess with him…

and because he’s cute.

Never underestimate cute.  Remember Smokey? And Yogi? And Fozzie?

But you have to wonder, did they manage to have 2 Twitter accounts: @ClermontCtyBear & @MiamiTwpBear?

• • •

Just observe him, they say.

He’s only looking for a mate. 

Bears are good swimmers, they tell us.

Isn’t it wonderful how he made it this far north into Ohio?

If you encounter him, they suggest that you do this:

“Speak in a firm voice and if necessary, raise your arms above your head and clap.”

• • •

Taking a differing point of view than the authorities, I am.

Waiting each day to learn that an 85 lbs male black bear has caught a ferry back to Kentucky and is looking for love in all the right places.

Hoping to go outside at night without fear.  Too much to ask?

Don’t care if it is.  Asking for it anyway.

The Tale Of The Lonely Beet

DSCN3608Once upon a time the Lady of the House went to the grocery where she purchased some beets.  She was going to roast them and serve them as a side dish with some ham for dinner.

:: The Lady of the House had good intentions.

However, when the Lady of the House came home from the grocery, she put the beets in a stainless steel bowl which she put in the frig.  Then, she forgot about their existence.

Because the beets were well-mannered, they did not call attention to themselves in the frig.  No, they just sat in the bowl and slowly allowed mold to cover them.  Perhaps they were cold and considered the mold to be like a sweater.  Perhaps they were content and enjoyed connecting with the mold.

:: We will never know for sure.

All we know is that the next time the Lady of the House looked at the beets she saw six moldy, dried out vegetables that were way past their prime.  Upon seeing what had happened, the Lady of the House said a few words that will not be repeated on these pages.

But the Lady of the House had another idea for the beets.  You see, the Lady of the House’s mother had a saying which she said to the Lady of the House when the Lady of the House was a girl.

:: And this saying was: waste not, want not.

Remembering what her mother had told her to do, the Lady of the House decided to toss the beets into the wooded ravine behind her house.  The Lady of the House thought that some of the deer or raccoons that live back there might like to feast on said beets.

:: However, she was wrong about this assumption.

A few days later when the Lady of the House chanced to look outside upon her backyard realm, she noticed that all the beets were still there.  And that one beet in particular, that had the misfortune of landing on top of a concrete wall instead of on the ground, was positioned in such a way as to create a perfect photo-op.

So, the Lady of the House, who also happened to be a blogger extraordinaire, grabbed her camera.  Then she went outside and took one of the best artsy-farsty photos she has ever taken.  Not wanting to let this photo go to waste, the Lady of the House figured she could put this photo on her blog, tell her readers how this beet came to be so alone, and call it a blog post.

:: And that is exactly what she did.  The end.

The Tale Of The Potted Pothos In The Pretty Pot On The Porch

ONCE UPON A TIME ON A FINE SPRING DAY… the lady of the house went to the store and bought a small pothos.  She brought it home and planted the pothos in a beautiful terra-cotta pot that featured smiles & dots on its rim.

The lady of the house was very happy with how her new pothos looked in her favorite pot, so she put the potted pothos in the screened-in porch of her home.  There, the lady of the house was certain, the potted pothos would thrive.

 And it did.

WHEN SUMMER CAME UPON THE LAND… the lady of the house decided to take her early morning mug of coffee onto the screened-in porch, sit in her favorite wicker chair, sip her java and gaze upon her potted pothos in the pretty pot on the porch.

And all was well in the land.

UNTIL ONE MORNING… the lady of the house realized that there was something new & different about her pothos.  That during the previous hot, humid night the potted pothos had changed in a very weird way.

At first the lady of the house did not like this transformation.  In fact, the man of the house suggested that she get a paper towel and immediately remove the strangeness from her favorite potted pothos.  [Please note that the man of the house was not put out enough by the strangeness of the potted pothos transformation to do anything about it.  He merely suggested to the lady of the house that she should do this.]

But the lady of the house ignored the man of the house’s advice and decided to look very carefully at the mushrooms that had formed on her favorite potted pothos.  As she did this she realized that the mushrooms were a pretty shade of yellow that just happened to match the tiny yellow stripe on the pillows in the screened-in porch.  Such attention to detail delighted the lady of the house.  Yes, the mushrooms were an interesting development to be sure.

And suddenly the lady of the house had an idea.

FEELING THAT THERE MUST BE AN EXPLANATION FOR THIS TURN OF EVENTS… the lady of the house found a link to a webpage that explained exactly what was going on with her potted pothos in the pretty pot on the porch.  She discovered that her beloved potted pothos had a fungus called Leucocoprinus birnbaumii, aka Lepiota lutea, the yellow houseplant mushroom.  Further she learned that this fungus, which had created these yellow mushrooms, was harmless as long as it was not ingested.

And there was learning in the land.

AS YOU MIGHT IMAGINE… the lady of the house had absolutely no intention of eating these mushrooms.  Or of letting her precious morning mug of coffee come in contact with them.  The lady of the house had common sense– and then some.

So she let the yellow mushrooms be & allowed them to go through their 48 hour [more or less] life cycle.  During which time she enjoyed the unexpected, color-coordinated bit of beauty that they added to her potted pothos in the pretty pot on the porch.

And once again there was peace in the land.