Saturday, April 13, 2013

Do's and Don'ts of Yesteryear

Does anyone else out there love Eric Sloane books?  I was reading a bit out of a new one I received in the mail today and a few of the sayings caught my interest and reminded me of a long ago prayer....
But first, the book I'm speaking of is Do's and Don'ts of Yesteryear and is a collection of vintage, nostalgic and homespun advice from bygone days.  The author, Eric Sloane, was one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century.  He appreciated American history, tradition, and architecture and wrote many books about early America.
Here are a few excerpts:  "DO discourage ants by placing cucumber rind shavings wherever they appear." and "DON'T drink from your saucer.  While you must avoid this vulgarity, don't take notice of it or any mistake of the kind when committed by others.  (It is related that at the table of an English prince a rustic guest poured his tea into his saucer much to the visible amusement of the court ladies and gentlemen present.  Whereupon the prince quietly poured his own tea into his own saucer, thereby rebuking his ill-mannered court and putting his guest in countenance.)"

The second one I mentioned above, the one about not drinking from one's saucer, made me think of the word gracious. The prince in the story was very gracious, I think.  According to Webster's Dictionary, gracious means godly, pleasing, acceptable, marked by kindness and courtesy, graceful, and marked by tact and delicacy.  And when I read that little account, I thought of a very gracious family and a long ago prayer. All of our children were much younger then, and as many of you know, our family is quite large.  Looking ahead and being outnumbered, we longed to enjoy a simple life and not be on the road all the time carting people here and there and all going in different directions.  But we couldn't imagine how our children might enjoy opportunities to learn to minister to and serve others.  Just sheer numbers and logistics caused us to long for a way to serve together as a family -- and -- we really believed that to be the very best way for us to serve.  But what to do?  And what might that look like?  We prayed.  And our prayers were answered in a most unusual way.  One of our very most favorite mentors asked us to be a part of their ministry.  We were a very small part.  But not only would our children have opportunities to learn to serve others - and we believed that to be very important - our whole family would. Together. And not only that, but this opportunity meant that we would stay in close contact with this dear family.  And they were the MOST gracious couple we knew.  And we hoped at least a little bit of that graciousness would rub off on us.  Now, I'm not saying whether or not it did or didn't rub off, but what I am saying is that our prayers were answered.  Our children were given service opportunities which fit their ages and we were able to serve as a family and without everyone going in a dozen or more directions.  It was a retreat for families, missionaries and pastors, and I know we benefited most from meeting and learning from all these wonderful people.  And again, while customs change and drinking out of one's saucer doesn't really matter, the story of the gracious prince reminded me of this couple and was a reminder to me of how important it is that my children and I grow in this area. And if you're a mother of young children as I was and wondering how they might learn the joy of serving others... and without constantly keeping the family on the road or split up, keep praying!  Workable opportunities are sure to come to those who are prayerfully seeking them. And if you love early American history or folk wisdom and such, you just might enjoy one of the many works of Eric Sloane.  I know we have. Anyone have a favorite? ~ Blessings ~   Sherry    P.S.  Forgive me for not changing paragraphs.  I haven't figured out how to get this computer to do that unless there's a picture to break them up.  Sorry.:(     


  1. Oh wow. I didn't know drinking out of a saucer was considered rude. I've seen and read about it in books and movies before. Interesting. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Carolinatractorgirl,

    That portion of the book really jumped out at me. I remember reading about that in one of the Little House books. Almonzo's mother scolded Eliza Jane for saying such a thing after returning home from school. Mrs. Wilder informed her of the tradition and that Mr. Wilder was perfectly fine drinking from a saucer and of how the tradition was started and was done in order to allow the liquid to cool before drinking it out of the saucer. And I fondly remember my great-grandfather doing the same thing! Anyway, it's interesting how some table manners are proper in some cultures and improper in others. And I thought it so gracious of the prince to recognize that and refrain from hurting the feelings of his guest.

    Blessings to you and yours...