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!


Posts Tagged ‘walking’

Sidewalk Manners

Monday, August 16th, 2010

I think there are two types of people in the world: those who never move to the side to let another walker pass easily, and those polite, considerate, charming, lovely sidewalk shifters who gladly step aside when confronted with someone straight ahead. I’m a shifter, of course ~ always have been, always will.

Who knows what the heck that means, but when I saw this next excerpt, I just had to share. It’s from The Polite Pupil, brought to us by “the Brothers of Mary for the use of Catholic Parochial and High Schools.”

1905: Sidewalk Manners

When walking in company with others, give the middle place to the most distinguished person. If a single companion, give him the right-hand side; however, in case you turn back, do not change your position. On the sidewalk, give the person you wish to honor the inside of the walk. If, on turning a corner, you wish to change your position, be sure to pass behind and not in front of your companion.

When mounting a stairway, a gentleman always precedes a lady; but in descending, the gentleman steps back to let the lady pass down first.

When passing others, always keep to the right; you will thus avoid confusion and possible collisions. Never brush against or elbow people that are passing by. If, by accident, you stumble against others, or inconvenience them in any way, do not fail to apologize.

When walking alone, never turn your head to look behind you, but rather stop and turn about. It is very rude to turn and stare at a person passing by. School-children are often too thoughtless and selfish to give others share of the walk. We often see three or four girls walking along arm in arm, taking up the entire sidewalk, so that others must step off the walk to let them pass. Politeness requires that the younger give the older the greater part of the walk, or all of it, if need be.

Source: Brothers of Mary. The Polite Pupil. Dayton, Ohio: Nazareth, 1905.
~ pp. 79-80 ~

Techniques for a Graceful Walk

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, pivot!I’ve been busy with a house guest and my new pup lately. Not only was she perfect company, dear friend Michelle arrived on my doorstep with books in hand. We also made a trip to a used bookstore last weekend, where I found another eight for the collection.

One of them is Ruth Tolman’s Charm and Poise for Getting Ahead, and here is an important excerpt for you all.

1969: Techniques for a Graceful Walk

Poise and balance are synonymous. If a beautiful walk is anything, it is well balanced. Walking on a line like a tight rope walker will give you balance; this is the beginning of learning to walk well. It is the beginning, but not the end. Obviously, there is more than this that goes into a beautiful walk.

First of all, a beautiful walk should appear effortless and smooth. This calls for the most efficient movement possible. The muscles must take over and let go at precisely the right moment. They must work at optimum tension. The direction of the walk must be forward, not up and down or from side to side.

You must not ‘settle’ with each step. You must think tall and light. You must keep your weight forward toward the balls of the feet. To check this, stand with your feet side by side, close your eyes and imagine that you are a puppet being pulled up and up by strings attached to the crown of your head and to your ears. Where is your weight? It’s definitely not on your heels and never should be as you walk. Carry your weight just in front of the ankle bone. If you sink onto your heels your walk will lack the “heavenly” quality that reaching for the sky will give it.

Keep your chest high. The grace of your arms, neck and head depend upon your chest position. If it is balanced over the feet, the shoulders will act as ballast so that your entire torso from the waistline up will seem like a ship skimming over calm seas.

Keep your chin up. You don’t want to lose by a head. There’s something queenly about the woman who carries her head held high. What’s the saying about it’s better to see the stars in the sky than the mud on the ground?

Acquire an evenly spaced momentum. How fast or slow you walk will depend upon your personality. Most of all, you should look for a nice balance between the slouching, idling gait and the ‘going to a fire’ gait that looks harassed. Whatever the speed of the rhythm you choose, let it be a natural rhythm that will vitalize your movements.

Rhythm makes the difference. It will be helpful if you can do your walking practice to music, if not, count aloud to yourself in soft and relaxed tones, ‘One, two, three, four, five, pivot; one, two, three, four, five, pivot.’

Source: Tolman, Ruth. Charm and Poise for Getting Ahead. Bronx, NY: Milady Publishing Corporation, 1969.
~ p. 83 ~