The world could use more politeness and niceties. There are never enough "thank yous," "pleases," "you're welcomes" and notes of gratitude in today's fast-paced society of technology.
Valparaiso University is hosting an "Etiquette Dinner and Networking Reception" today for students and others from 4:15 to 6:30 p.m. in the Alumni/Brown & Gold Rooms of the Harre Student Union. The event is $10 and tickets are still available today at the Union Welcome Desk. FYI: (219) 464-5007.
Guiding the dinner and discussion is Patricia Cook of Patricia Cook & Associates of Wilmette, Ill., who will talk about "first impressions." She loves to share the famed quote by author Oscar Wilde: "The World was my oyster, but I used the wrong fork."
I applaud Holly Simpson, assistant director of the VU Career Center, for dreaming up the idea for today's dinner. I also commend all of the employers who are attending, including Deb Townsend of United Way, Pam Saylor of Opportunity Enterprises, Ryan Dykes of AC Incorporated, Brad Campbell and Kim Dawson of Drug Free Partnership, Willy Prichett of Primerica, Brandi Anstine of Lakeshore Public TV, Tracy Traut, executive director of Porter County Counseling, Stan Pissarki of Central States Manufacturing, Joy Adams of Navistar and the folks from Warner Bertram, LLC, which specializes in assisting nonprofits with marketing, public relations, branding, and restructuring. Any other potential employers who would like to attend can contact Holly at (219) 464-5005 for a comped ticket.
Long before Judith Martin, the syndicated United Media Features newspaper columnist, created her "Ask Miss Manners" feature in 1978, and the rise of Martha Stewart and Emily Post, knowing right from wrong in a social setting has been an important rule even before the days of Queen Victoria.
Here are three other famed names of enforcing social graces:
• Amy Vanderbilt — After five years of research, she published "Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette" in 1952 and from 1954 to 1960, hosted the TV show "It's In Good Taste" and the radio show "The Right Thing to Do." She died in 1974 at age 66 after a mysterious fall from a second-floor window of her Manhattan townhouse.
• Elsa Maxwell — In addition to her syndicated newspaper society column for Hearst Newspapers, she was a frequent and popular guest on Jack Parr's "Tonight Show." Her 1957 book "How to Do It" instructed readers about everything from the importance of a punctual hostess to sharing a table seating chart for a party that included actress Jayne Mansfield, Elvis Presley, Bobo Rockefeller, Nikita Khrushchev, Liberace and Porfirio Rubirosa. She died in 1963 at age 80.
• Marjabelle Young Stewart — From Kewanee, Ill., she became interested in etiquette in the 1950s after moving to Washington, D.C., with her husband. In 1964, she opened her Mrs. Young's School for Young Ladies, where she taught the likes of Julie and Tricia Nixon and then-former president LBJ's daughters Lynda and Luci. She died in 2007 at age 82.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 852-4327.