Who is Miss Abigail?

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

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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!


Archive for April, 2007

Canoeing at Prettyboy Reservoir

Monday, April 30th, 2007

Originally uploaded by Miss Abigail.

Went canoeing this weekend – I liked this picture of my feet enjoying the sun. It was a bit cold and windy but a nice taste of more canoeing to come this summer.

Time to start dipping into the recreational activity advice books to learn how to properly handle myself on the open water!

1964: Boys Are Different!

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

A special thank you to Sherri Baer, who just sent me two fabulous little pink books by Ruth Vaughn: It’s Fun to Be a Girl (“in which she tells how ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’ can be made a dream come true,” so says the cover) and the follow-up Dreams Can Come True (“because of her unquestioned faith in this fact, she reminds her readers that it is fun to be a girl”).

This little excerpt, titled “Boys are Different!” is from Dreams Can Come True. I find this fascinating. Who knew that girls and boys could be so different, yet still get along! This explains a lot.

You will just have to admit that it’s true. Their whole thought processes are different. Their whole outlook upon life is different! Their interests, dreams, and ambitions are different.

Girls like security and warmth. Boys are freespirited. Girls want to leave quickly any scene of unhappiness. Boys can implulsively knock another boy across the room. Girls want praise, attention. Boys are happy just to have you in the same room with them while they devote all of their attention elsewhere. (It certainly isn’t much fun for you when Steve comes to see you and spends all evening discussing baseball talk with your father. But Steve is happy just because you are near!)

Girls love poetic, beautiful, dreaming things: orchids, very soft blue satin the color of the morning sky, “Rhapsody in Blue,” soft candleglow, bubble bath. Boys love plain, common, everyday things: baseball, the sports page, digging in the garden, greasy motors, carpenters’ saws. Girls always prefer a date with Steve to congealing at a girls’ party. Boys often prefer to just “be with the boys.”

Taste of Paris

Friday, April 20th, 2007

Tonight, the last night in Paris, and after a long day of work meetings, my “traveling companion” and I saw a jazz trio (guitar, bass, and drums) with a tap dancer, and surprise visit by an accordianist. Tres cool. It was like we were crashing a private French party – the space was really small, a contrabass speciality store where the musicians were set up in the front and the crowd gathered along a wall, in the doorway, and in the back behind the counter. We were tucked in the corner, near the snack food and wine, praying that nobody would speak French to us, the non-bilingual Americans. It was much fun, and very parisian.

Bon soir!

Hello from Paris

Monday, April 16th, 2007

I arrived safely in Paris. Sitting in the hotel lobby waiting to check in. Fun fun fun!

Had a great weekend in North Carolina at the Greensboro College Alumni weekend booksigning. I will post more later about that…

Greensboro College Book Signing April 14

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

This weekend I’ll be returning to Greensboro College for an alumni weekend, where I’ll be signing books and greeting folks on the campus where this whole Miss Abigail thing started. I attended GC from 1985 to 1987, before transferring to an art school in Massachusetts to eventually finish up my college years.

The first book in my collection, The Art of Dating, was purchased at a thrift store in Greensboro. Twenty plus years later, here I am. Hard to believe it.

I haven’t been back to the college since I left in 1987 so it should be an adventure. And my mom’s coming along to help me with the whole thing so it should be a fun road trip.

And then, on Sunday night, I travel to Paris! Woohoo!

Single State Site

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

I just noticed that Diane Mapes has a new site for the Single State of the Union book that has an essay of mine titled “Single Blessedness.” I can’t make the book launch in Seattle in a few days, but hopefully it will be a big success for Diane and other contributors who are able to attend. Sorry to miss it!

1961: Eyeglasses

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

I did a stupid thing this weekend–I lost my glasses! I had my sunglasses on at the time, and my regular frames somehow fell out of my pocket while I was out walking the dogs. I retraced my steps and looked high and low for them but they are gone gone gone. So since Saturday I’ve been wearing an old pair that has an outdated prescription which hurts my head, and my regular prescription sunglasses whenever I can get away with that without looking too ridiculous.

I ordered a cool new pair yesterday that should arrive shortly, but in the meantime I thought I would see what the advice gods had to say about wearing glasses. The following is from Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, written in 1960 by Gayelord Hauser. The section on eyeglasses starts out by talking about doing eye drills and eye relaxation, enough to strengthen your eyes so you don’t need glasses. But then Hauser brushes aside that quackery and writes:

I definitely do not belong to the school that says: “Throw away your glasses.” Unless you are willing to work on your eyes constantly and daily, I suggest that you consult the best eye doctor in your city and let him decide, after a thorough examination, whether or not you need glasses. There are few things so damaging to a woman’s looks as her straining, squinting effort to see. It is not only detrimental to the eyes, for tissues around the eyes become a mass of fine, squinting lines. Along with the muscles of the eyes, your whole face and even the muscles of your neck and shoulders become tense in the struggle to see.

Exactly how I’m feeling! Let’s continue:

The decision rests entirely with you and your eye doctor. If you need glasses, wear them boldly and confidently. Today women treat eyeglasses not as a handicap to good looks but as an accessory. You no longer need to change frames and shapes that will make the glasses inconspicuous. Quite the contrary–the bolder the better.

My new ones are slightly diamond shaped. I hope that’s bold enough.