Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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About

Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!

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Archive for March, 2006

Tacky and Proud of It!

Monday, March 27th, 2006

Check out Julie’s Tacky Treasures for a great review of Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage. And while we’re talking Tacky Treasures, if you haven’t checked out Julie’s Web site before, you absolutely must pay it a visit. The whole site is great, but I must point you to some favorites of mine: her fabulous collection of Mark Eden Bust Developers and the Campus Cuties found in the Nouveau Tacky section.

1929: They Talk Man’s Language

Monday, March 20th, 2006

I should be doing my taxes. But instead, I’m procrastinating by digging through some of my books. I’m reading up on women in business and working gals to help answer an inquiry that came to me last week (business, taxes — it’s all related, right?). While doing so, I found this fabulous little excerpt that I thought you would enjoy. It’s from Pots, Pans, and Millions: A Study of Woman’s Right to Be in Business: Her Proclivities and Capacity for Success, written by Edith Mae Cummings (Washington, D.C.: National School for Business Science for Women, 1929):

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The avenues of progress are now open to the average woman, all educational institutions welcome her, and after she establishes her financial independence she will not look upon man as a shelter in the time of storm, but as a companion.

The Nineteenth Amendment will never be repealed. Woman are in business to stay. They are no longer wall-flowers, but they have become such an important part of our economic arrangement that business could not get on without them. They have become citizens and have a voice in the government; they talk man’s language, particularly when they become exasperated. They work with men and exchange ideas as well as cigarettes.

Woman drives her own car through crowded streets, and when the fight of the century is staged you will find her in the ringside seat. She runs for office and gets elected. She goes on the public platform and expresses her opinions, and people pay to hear what she has to say. . . .

Man and woman go to the same theatre, to the same university, to the same football game, and last but not least, to the same barber-shop.

Never have the women of a nation achieved so high a standard of living as the American woman enjoys today, yet never have they felt the press of so many new desires and so many new ambitions.

Woman has the vision to understand great problems, the courage to undertake them and the ability to conquer them. No man knows so deeply the horrors of war or is so capable of making sacrifice as woman. She has been the humanitarian for ages; she has been organizer of the home ~ the one who has made the dreams of civilization come true.
~~

Thank you, Edith ~ you’ve certainly inspired me to try to understand the great problem of “Cost Basis” and how it relates to me and my dear friend Turbo Tax.

This Book Thing Runs in the Family

Monday, March 20th, 2006

Congrats to my mom, Linda Salisbury, and her book The Wild Women of Lake Anna, for being named a finalist in the Juvenile Fiction category of ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award! She’ll find out in May if she’s a winner. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Mom’s published two books so far, perfect for wild women (and wild guys!) ages 8 and up, in a series called the Bailey Fish Adventures. A third will be out soon — I’ve already read it but I’m not going to give any secrets away!

Takoma Gazette and iBrattleboro Write-Ups

Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

I live in Takoma Park, Maryland (just outside of Washington, D.C.), and today, one of the regional papers, the Gazette’s Takoma edition wrote a nice piece on me and the book — the first in print (that I know of). Check out the electronic version here.

I must also mention a lovely review of the book that was written in February by my older brother Chris for his fabulous community journalism site iBrattleboro.com. Thanks, Chris! And yes, you were right, this counts as the first review online.

1957: At the Movies

Sunday, March 12th, 2006

I still like the social aspect of seeing movies at the theater. But with high prices at the ticket booth (what ever happened to the cheap matinee?) and the popcorn line, annoying pre-show advertisements and cheesy dancing candies on the screen, it’s getting harder and harder to justify it. And it doesn’t help that movie goers have forgotten some basics of seeing a show in public ~ respect for others around them. Kicking seats, cell phones ringing, endless chatter at the screen, little kids at late-night movies ~ it’s enough to drive Miss Abigail (and many of you, I’m sure) mad.

To refresh our collective skills in this area, I share with you an excerpt from Bernice Bryant’s Future Perfect: A Guide to Personality and Popularity for the Junior Miss (New York: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1957):

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When you take your seat be as careful as you can not to disturb people. If you do have to grope in the dark to find your way and you should step on a toe, just a soft and sincere “Excuse me, please” will many times soften what might have been a wrathful scolding. After you are seated stay seated. Don’t jump up to take off your coat or smooth your skirt. Get out of the childish habit of running back for a drink of water or going to the ladies’ room. No whispering, giggling, rattling papers, resting your feet on the seat in front of you, habitually clearing your throat or coughing. If you have a cold you had better not go to the movies. You don’t like to sit next to a person who snorts and sniffles, do you? And you don’t like to sit next to a person who is popping gum or chewing chewy candy, do you? Try to make as little rustle as possible when you unwrap a candy bar. Fold the paper quietly and put it in your purse or pocket. Later dispose of it in the refuse box in the lobby or rest room. Be most careful about disposing of your gum when you are tired of chewing it. Wrap it in a piece of paper before you throw it in the refuse box. Leaving a wad of gum, a kernel of buttery popcorn or a piece of sticky candy on a seat is very inconsiderate. Just think how they could spot your coat or skirt if you were to sit on them! Handle your theater snacks neatly and eat quietly. Do you like to sit behind a girl who has wrapped her woolen coat in a bundle and piled herself atop it? Think of those around you. They, too, paid admission to see the show.
~~

They paid $9.25 if they are here in the D.C. area! Ouch.

Singles – you are not alone!

Friday, March 10th, 2006

Over the years, Miss Abigail has focused a lot on advice and topics for those hopelessly or happily single, so it will be no surprise that my new book has a lot of excerpts from the classic advice books for the not-currently-dating. There are a few chapters to get you going: “Becoming Dateable” and “I Like This Boy but I Don’t Know How to Tell Him,” and even a whole chapter “On Being Single.”

So you can understand my desire to share with you a recently released report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project titled Online Dating. There are some great findings in here that I won’t repeat, but here are a few in case you are sad and blue and feeling like you’re the only single person out there.

Take a look at the section starting on page 5 about the state of relationships in American (43% of adults surveyed were single!) and particularly the bullets on page 7: 36% of the “relationship-seeking singles” surveyed said they hadn’t been on any dates in the previous three months.

See, you’re not alone!

1968: The Compat-A-Pillow

Thursday, March 2nd, 2006


I was informed by my friend Jocelyn today that Amazon has shipped her pre-ordered copy of my book (woohoo!). So, in her honor — as the first person I’m aware of to have successfully purchased and just-about-received it — I’d like to share a little something from a small pamphlet in my collection that Joceyln had really wanted me to include in the Miss Ab book, but alas, it didn’t make the cut.

The pamphlet is titled Keep Your Marriage Young. The cover describe it as “A simple text dealing with the problems and solutions confronting newlyweds and older couples featuring the new — COMPAT-A-PILLOW … an inflatable marital cushion with an advanced design, adjustable elevation and 3-way resiliency for greater love and marital joy.”

There is lots of good stuff here, including sections called “Shared Love and Satisfaction,” “Improving Position with Pillow Technique,” “Advice to Newlyweds,” “A Lesson in Anatomy,” “Conquering Frigidity,” and “Modesty.” Unfortunately there are no other pictures (except in the anatomy section), so I can’t show you what the pillow actually looked like. And much of the text is a little too graphic for Miss Abigail’s public Web site sensibilities. But I will share this brief excerpt:

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Remember to keep the pillow on or near the bed so that it will be handy when desired. The Compat-A-Pillow has also been designed to be a very comfortable utility pillow for use as a back rest for bed reading, for elevating the head and shoulders while sleeping (placed on top or under the mattress) or for sleeping with the feet and legs raised to ease discomforts from varicose veins or swollen feet. Keep these other uses on the “tip of your tongue” if you are asked its purpose by a curious person. In some cases, try a direct answer and you may find the resultant conversation interesting.
~~

Ha! I love it. My copy is the 1968 third edition of this pamplet, published by the Better Sleep Inc., which as you can see is still going strong today. Although I don’t see mention of this particular item in their current catalog, some other sites out there have it listed. Maybe you have to call, and whisper a code word into the phone or something. Or at least prove you are 18 before they’ll let you order it. In any case, I’m just happy to have this pamphlet.