JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 406
Yes, these two pamphlets are beautifully designed, real works of production art, speaking elegantly and skinnily to their skinny, elegant times. The World Behind the Telephone is a straightforward look at the stuff going on behind the scenes that made the telephone "go"--the woman holding the telephone is remarkably tall and angular, holding back the curtain of an even taller and skinnier doorway, beckoning the viewer into the unseen telephonic world. Poise and Personality features more skinny people, and offers the skinny on some excruciatingly class-conscious tips on expected behavior and the division of the classes
"Social poise does not consist of a mere set of mannerisms" it reads, but beware: "avoid careless and loose forms, which are in bad taste". There are all manner of pinkies-up logics and societal sniffing splayed throughout these pages, from the chapter improbably titled "Preccedence [sic] in Introductions", to "Sensitivenesses" ("being sensitive is a luxury and the price runs high"), "Inferiority Complexes ("if you are afraid of people, talk to them with a smile..."), "Personality development" ("undoubtedly there is a native something that differs in each of us"), "Poise" ("...people are unhappy because they are nervously conscious of a lack of ability to mix with strangers....consequently they are unable to appear calm and balanced".
Yes, it is a product of its time.
There are some troubling and insensitive things in here as well, pamphlet being delivered of it times or not. Letting the waiter pick up your fork is one; do not drop your ashes on the floor is another. The more subversive ones though are on dating behavior and gender wars, the subjugation of women as it was in 1938 firmly on display. "If you show interest in him, his interest in you is aroused." Oh dear sweet creator, the woman is only of interest to the man if she reflects his interesting bits back to him. Why not have the guy date a mirror? That way nothing will be lost in all of that wasteful biological differentiation.
Here's an early classic on the subject: John S. Mill's On the Subjugation of Women, an oldie but still a goodie.
Just for good measure, and really not related to this post, I'll throw in a word map generated by Wordle.net of Mill's Subjugation of Women (I like how "slavery" happened to pop up in the middle of the "O" in "women"):