When I posted about the wonderful woman who was still stringing pearls, when
she could have decided to retire, my Mom felt wearing pearls showed “class”
and “distinction,” especially in the years from 1950 until late 1960’s. She has
mentioned her ideas of what she considers the opposite of classy behavior
to be “crass behavior.”
Back in her teaching days, she liked to ignore spit wads, rude (farting) noises
and continue on in her lessons, unperturbed. She felt this was a good strategy
when I was a student teacher of third graders up at Conneaut Elementary, in
Bowling Green, Ohio.
Her attitude about teachers who she felt ‘gossiped’ represented her definition
of “unclassy” behavior, or “crass” behavior. I have mentioned this before, she
would take her lunch into her classroom and close the door, during her lunch
sometimes placing her head on her desk. She would ‘designate’ every year,
or quarter if the courses changed, a special ‘teacher assistant’ who would
help ‘wake her up’ should she miss the bell ringing for class to start. She
also would leave notes in her lesson plans to denote the persons the
substitute teacher could count on. These were not always ‘straight A’
students, either. Sometimes she would choose ones who were on the
“fringe” and almost like we now call kids, “slackers.” They took their duty
or responsibiilty and sometimes they would ask to bring their lunch in to
eat with her. On those days, Mom said she was happy to have company
and still relieved of having to go in the teacher’s lounge. She did not like
that some teachers “stereotyped” students in their freshman year, that
“label” being carried out and passed on to the next grade. She preferred
to decide on her own.
So, in this longer section she would say no area of society is removed
from lack of class. She would say “gossiping” or trying to “besmirch”
a student’s reputation was “crass behavior.” We all in our household
were aware of the ‘druggies,’ ‘pregos’ (pregnant girls) and the ‘lesbos’
existing. She told us no names of her Westlake students while we were
at a whole different school. She wanted us to be aware to still ‘be nice’
to anyone we saw who looked left out. This advice may have saved at
least one life in our school due to my brother being kind, many more
in her school since Mom’s antenna was up and trying to focus on this.
“Chico and the Man,” series was based loosely on two different skits
that Cheech and Chong ‘took on the road,’ the creator followed them
and recorded details to help him create the situation comedy, first
asking the comedic duo if they were interested in ‘signing onto the
deal.’ When Freddie Prinze, who was born in 1954 died in 1977, I
was in my junior year of college. This was the year my ‘baby’ brother
graduated from high school. We will never know what was going on
in his mind, maybe it was accidental drug overdose. His son, Freddie
Prinze, Jr. never knew him, because his father died while his mother
was expecting. This kind of ‘brought it home to us,’ you never know
if someone, a coworker, friend or neighbor needs to have a friendly
smile or kind word.
Class was also taught from my grandmother’s words, as we were very
familiar with her experiences as a waitress at New York City’s Waldorf
Astoria Hotel. She served meals to many of the upper echelon of society.
It was interesting to hear her ideas on ‘classy’ versus ‘low class’ behaviors.
Grandma Mattson drew a hard and fast line in the delineation of the two:
“If someone is bossy towards a waiter, waitress or hotel housekeeper,
then you know they are ‘Nouveau Riche.’ They have come upon some
money, but were not raised knowing how to behave ‘properly.'”
Grandma M. also let us know that we must wash our hands, this is a way
to show we are not ‘dirty’ people. It doesn’t matter what kind of clothes
you wear, as long as they are mended and clean, in her ‘book.’
Grandma M. said that people who ‘have money’ may be ‘stingy’ with tips,
again, this denotes their not being very classy. If they had class, they were
more generous and friendly. A waiter, waitress or any other hotel personnel
were discouraged from acting ‘too friendly’ with any of the clients of the hotel.
By showing restraint and ‘proper manners,’ you may get complimented and
if this is passed on to management you may get promoted.
Then, Grandma would emphasize this: “If you show manners while working
in ANY job, being polite, not gossiping, being quiet, listening more than
talking and going out of your way to help someone, you may find yourself
promoted and viewed as intelligent. You never know if the owner or manager
may have sent someone to ‘test’ you, or someone from another place will
discover your abilities and offer you an even better job.”
The benefits of being ‘classy,’ include manners and good language skills.
When my brothers went through a phase of saying a ‘silly’ slang expression,
they were given a similar lecture from my Mom, as if Grandma had whispered
in her ear.
I could go on, but I will include just one big pet peeve, which is not original but
needs repeating: “Using cell phones while out to eat, watching a movie or play
in a theater, or just generally interrupting people to say, “I need to get this. . .”
has become my denoting lack of class or ‘crass behavior.’
Am I being too harsh or old-fashioned?
Let me know. I enjoy your lively feedback, be honest!