1. This seems to be a convenient spot for a few little tales my father, Cameron McRae Plummer used to tell about his family’s household in earlier days. The lived in Virginia and North Carolina, I believe… and he told the tales because he found them entertaining and often giving some insights into the perceptions of those who participated in them.

    They traveled, generally, in horse-pulled buggies or carriages, with the horsepower often guided by servants.
    On one occasion, one of the manservants heard the warm and lively exchange of two parties who had met in such conversation, and the generous exchange of friendly remarks. One servant remarked proudly to another, whom he was instructing on the handling of the gentry., noting the graces of at least some of the gentry:

    “Yes, sir. Just as I told you, when the quality meets, the compliments, they pahsses!

    On another occasion one room service waiter in a Virginia hotel explained the difference between politeness and tact to a younger waiter in training.
    It seems that somehow the senior waiter had entered a female guest’s room to deliver something before she was completely dressed.
    The servant, without missing a beat, he explained to the youngster, made his delivery, adding a quick “Excuse me, Sir.”

    The “excuse me,” he explained to the younger man, “now that was politeness. But the ‘sir,’ that was tact!”


    And the there was the time my dad showed up at a neighbor’s home one afternoon, just as she’d finished baking a particularly enticing delicacy. But my dad, having been taught proper manners, knew that he should not in any way ask for a treat.
    Instead, he looked around, took an appreciative sniff of the delicious scent, and commented, “My, this house smells like gingerbread… But what is that to me!”

    And his mother, born in 1863 in the back of a wagon as her mother fled the approaching Yankee troops, was also tutored in childhood restraint. Some years later, at Christmas dinner when she was six or so years old, she could no longer contain her delight over the new piece of jewelry. Nobody was paying it, or her, much attention as the family enjoyed the feast.
    She stood it as long as she could, and finally piped up to the assembled family, “Oh, my! I feel so warm in my new ring!”

    I hope you have and enjoy such gentle tales of human foibles and politesse in your own family stories.

    M.C. Cowan

    1. Thank you for sharing these delightful stories.

      1. We are glad you enjoy them.

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