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 January, 2011

Sears Discovery Charm School: Exercise

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Peggy Flemming

Per Lynette’s suggestion, Part II of my series on excerpts from the Sears Discover Charm School book (ca. 1972 version) will focus on exercise. This chapter features none other than Olympic skater Peggy Flemming!

Peggy, take it away:

~~

A smooth flowing body. A tingle. A good feeling all over. A scrumptious look. A healthy body. There’s an endless list of good things that happen to you through exercise. It should be enough to make everyone head for the nearest pair of sneakers each morning. But it isn’t. A lot of people still manage to avoid exercise. Mostly because they’re not quite sure about what they should do. And they never get to the point where exercising becomes a regular part of their day. That’s where they get stuck. Here’s how to switch things around  and get unstuck. Here’s how you get going.

The first thing to do is to set aside a certain time of the day…every day…for exercise. Be a wildcat about staying with it. You might find the morning a good time because it can become part of your getting-up routine like brushing your teeth, showering and putting yourself together.

There are many different ways to exercise. Walking, bike riding, swimming, things like that are all good. And very important. But there are other exercises that are equally important. Exercises designed to zero in on certain parts of the body. These are the streamliners. They not only work for a firmer and more supple you, they also give you the kind of physical awareness that shows through when you stand or walk or move.

If you’re planning a career in modeling or fashion or as a performer, these are particularly important for you since your physical appearance is so much a part of your work.

You might recognize some of these streamliners as looking like the exercises done in a ballet class. And you’d be right. I’ve put them into this program because I feel that ballet is probably one of the best ways to reach the hard-to-get-to muscles. The ones that don’t ordinarily get worked on in other kinds of exercise. They make for that smooth and firm look and help you move easily and naturally. That’s what we’re after. All of this will take time and effort. But it’s worth it. Don’t be a softie because of excuses. Stay with it. You might find it hard in the beginning but when you start to see and feel results, it might even get to be fun.

~~

The following images are some, though not all, of the suggested exercises. I particularly like the bosom and hip and buttocks exercises. Now that looks like some fun!

Warm up, head and neck, shoulders

This “Chart your own course” page is partially filled in by the book’s original owner. She didn’t follow through, it appears, so we’ll never know what her finish measurements were. But you know what that means, less for you to white out and and fill in your own numbers!

Next up in the series: Voice and Speech.

A Takoma Park Top Five

Friday, January 14th, 2011

I live in Takoma Park, M.D., which is a small funky town that often feels more New England home-towny than a suburb of D.C. Although people (including me) like to sometimes chuckle at our strict tree laws and our nuclear-free zone status (I often wonder if there is a protector shield that would  come up if D.C. was a target?), and I’ve got some major issues with a neighbor that lives in a shed (long story), it’s been a great place to call home for the last 9 years. We have a great downtown, a fabulous coop and farmers’ market, and lots of cool people. So imagine my delight when I was featured here today: Takoma Park Five: The Book Club Edition. Thanks, Takoma Park Patch!

Sears Discovery Charm School: Introduction to the 1972 edition

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

Many moons ago, I published a query from a visitor to the site about the Sears Discovery Charm school. Little did I know, that this would be one of my most popular posts on the site! Seems that many of you charming, lovely, Googlers out there have fond memories of the course (which ran from 1963 to sometime in the 1980s, all over the country). I never attended myself, but did partake (courtesy of my Grandmother Bailey) in a charm school on summer in junior high. I am still traumatized by the experience, as is evidenced in the hundreds of beauty and charm books sitting behind me as I write this post. But I digress…

One commenter posted this history, which she obtained from the Sears Archives:

(1963) The success of a charm school for girls 9 to 19 years of age
started in the El Monte, CA. store and has spread to 16 stores in the
Los Angeles Retail Group.

(1965) Since August of 1965, thousands of young girls, mostly in their
teens, have been trooping into Sears stores signing up for 10-session
courses in Sears new charm school. Elizabeth Reed was the coordinator.

(1966) Sears School for Young Charmers had courses in 250 Sears retail
stores across the nation and an estimate of 100,000 graduates.

Many of you still have the three-ring binder in your possession, others are crushed that your parents threw it away and are desperate for a copy. After that post went up, I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the 1972 edition of the binder, D.C. version. The instructor was Mrs. Sherl Conaughton, whose resume included “Registered Nurse, Philadelphia, Pa.; Stewardess, American Airlines; and Model (New York, Florida and California),” among other things. She had 9 years total teaching experience at various modeling and beauty schools.

The binder was found by local director/producer Jeff Krulik in the apartment of a deceased neighbor (he suspects the neighbor’s daughter took the class). In 2009, Jeff tracked me down and handed it over to the Miss Abigail archives for safekeeping. I’ve been meaning to share more of this with you all for ages, but it’s been hard to know where to start! It’s quite a thick binder.

The new year has inspired me, however. I hereby resolve to bring you more Sears Charm School. I’ll start with the very first page. It gives you an idea of what the program is all about.

~~

There’s no one in this world exactly like you. That’s terrific. Because it gives you a particular advantage over everyone else. You’re unique. But it also raises some very important questions. How do you combine the way you look, the way you move, the way you speak, the way you feel so it all comes together and reflects your own personality?

These are some of the questions we’ll be asking, and hopefully be answering during the next few weeks you’ll be spending with us at Sears.

In creating this program, we’ve called upon some top professional people who’ve made it in their own specialized fields. They’ll tell you what you really want to know about things like make-up, skin care, modeling, exercise, fashion, just to name a few. So you’ll be getting the straightest and best possible information to help you toward your own individual personality and your own natural look.

Just what is that natural look we hear so much about? It’s a combination of things that work together to reflect the best possible you. Things you’re comfortable with. Arriving at that kind of look is a matter of learning techniques. Experimenting to find out what works best for you. And then putting it all together. It takes an honest approach and a lot of hard work. But it’s worth it. It pays off.

While you’re finding out about all these things, we’ll also be helping you put together some new ideas about your future. Perhaps you’re thinking about becoming a model. Or maybe you’d like to explore one of the many other interesting careers in fashion. No matter what, we’ll fill you in on what’s involved in the way of preparation, what it takes to get there, and what the life is like when you’ve arrived.

A lot of people talk about doing their own thing. That’s okay, but too often, all that means is just copying someone else’s life style. To really do your own thing, you have to find out what “your thing” is. And that’s what we hope to help you with during the time you’ll be spending with us here at Sears.

We’re glad you’re with us and that we’ll be working together in the discovery of the perfectly natural you.

~~

Help me choose what we should learn about next! Here are our options:

  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Voice/Speech
  • Modeling
  • Skin Care/Grooming
  • Make-up
  • Fashion
  • Manners

There’s also a special bonus pamphlet that was tucked into my binder: Sears’ “Selecting Teen Fashions” (1971) that might be of interest.

Until Next Time,

Most Fondly,

Your Instructor,

&c., &c.

Miss Abigail