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Saturday Excerpt: The Model Man

This excerpt is from my 2008 release The Model Man.

Single mom and romance novelist Kelly Michaels has no time for a man in her life. But when mega-famous cover model Derek Calavicci puts the moves on her at a romance writers’ conference, she succumbs to temptation. Common sense prevails, however, and after a few passionate kisses she turns him down; she has impressionable teenagers at home, after all, she doesn’t need a one-night-stand with a much younger man, no matter how hot he is. When photos of their passionate moonlight kiss hit the tabloids, her agent has to do some fast footwork to save her reputation. Will the notorious bad boy go along with her scheme?

Derek rarely hears a woman say “no” – it’s been that way his entire life. If Kelly isn’t interested, he’s not going to push her– even if she does melt like ice cream on a hot sidewalk every time he touches her. But when an unexpected opportunity falls into his lap by way of Kelly’s scheming agent, he jumps at the chance. Pretend he’s in love with Kelly Michaels for two weeks? No problem. After all, the lady may say she’s never going to sleep with him… but he’s got two weeks to convince her otherwise.

 

~*~

 

 

In this scene, after days of denying her attraction to hot cover model Derek Calavicci, heroine Kelly Michaels finally gives in to a moment of passion….

 

For a moment he stood there, watching her watch him. Electricity arced across the short distance separating them.

Kelly lowered her gaze. Even though the shadows hid her face, she didn’t want to risk him reading anything in her eyes. “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop.”

“No, that’s not your style.”

If he only knew her style. The one that had her secretly ogling his body whenever possible.

Okay, that was it. She was out of here. Uncurling her legs, she rose. “I was just going inside.”

“You don’t have to go because of me.”

Oh, yes I do. “I should get back to work. I do my best writing this time of night.”

He folded his arms over his chest. “It’s past midnight.”

“This is when I write. Usually until around two. And I’m near deadline.” She glanced down at his bare, masculine feet. Damn the man, even his toes were sexy.

“I won’t see you until tomorrow night so you should have plenty of time to write. I have an early tee time in the morning. Then I have to take care of some family business.”

She couldn’t help but smile. “With a last name like Calavicci, ‘family business’ sounds ominous.”

He laughed. “We’d be more likely to make a pizza for someone than break their thumbs.”

Thumbs. She refused to give into temptation and look.

“I’ll leave the limo in case you want to go somewhere.”

“I won’t. I really should spend the day working.”

He smiled. “I always had this image of you holed up in a cabin in the woods somewhere with an old typewriter.”

Derek had always had an image of her? The thought warmed her just a little. “No cabin, no typewriter. Just a golden retriever at my feet.” Sweet, lovable Barney. She hoped he wasn’t giving her mom too much trouble. “Are you getting ready to go out somewhere?”

He slid his hands into his pockets and stepped closer. “Where would I go?”

“I don’t know, out to a club or something.”

“When the whole world thinks I’m here making love to you?”

Heat flooded her cheeks, but then she suspected that was his intention. “I’m sorry. You’re doing this for me and here you are stuck in this hotel room.”

“I thought I was doing it so I wouldn’t get sued.” He closed the distance between them. Instead of sitting on the love seat or one of the other chairs, he sat on the table directly in front of her. The position brought his naked chest to her eye level, and she had to force her gaze to settle elsewhere. It flitted up, over his abdomen, his lips, his eyes before finally landing on the balcony railing over his shoulder.

“I had no idea what M.J. was up to. I didn’t know about any of it.”

“I know that.” His voice took on a gentle tone. “And I wouldn’t have agreed if I hadn’t wanted to do it.”

She pulled her gaze back to his and found the fire simmering there. “Because you didn’t want to get sued?”

He smiled almost boyishly. “No.” He reached out, capturing her wrist to pull her forward between his open legs. “Hell, no.” He brushed his fingertips from her cheek to her chin, his thumb tugging at her lower lip.

His gaze darkened, focused on her mouth. He bent toward her, and she tilted her head for his kiss. But he stopped and lifted his gaze, eyes locked onto hers. The thumb on her lip slipped lower, knuckles slowly brushing down her throat to follow the deep vee of her sweater.

She caught her breath as he grazed the hollow between her breasts. The touch sent a shockwave of pleasure straight through her.

“Am I still moving too fast for you?”

 

The Model Man is available in print and digital format from The Wild Rose Press, and on audio book by Auidolark, where it’s a new release special!

Funny, compassionate, heart wrenching, and down right sexy – Simply Romance Reviews

 

 

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The Portal to Hell

When I decided to focus this month’s blog topic on the Confederate Prisoner of War Camp in Elmira, NY, I was amazed to discover how many websites out there are devoted to this subject.  Many, many years ago, in the days BC (before computers, LOL—or at least before everyone had computers) I attempted to research this very subject.  I found next to nothing.  I also found a great deal of resistance.  It was frustrating, to say the very least.

Then in one of those bizarre twists of fate, my future husband called me from work one day—he was in Elmira, training a newly hired employee for his company.  Turns out the “new guy” was a Civil War buff, too, and grew up just blocks away from the site of the old prison camp.  That very weekend the future dh and I attended an air show with antique war planes (he’s a WWII nut, but I try not to hold it against him. *G*).  Among the vendors, I noticed an older gentleman dressed in a Confederate uniform, selling books. As we passed by, the title of one caught my eye: “The Elmira Hellhole.”  My heart stopped—I just knew what that had to be about! I spent the next hour or so picking Col. Don Stumbo’s brain.  A Civil War reenactor and descendant of John Singleton Mosby, he had spent years researching the Elmira prison camp and had self published a book, The Elmira Hellhole, about the site and his experiences trying to unearth information in a town that would prefer that part of their history remain buried…

With Colonel Stumbo’s ’s help, the information contained in his book, and the directions of my husband’s co-worker, we were able to find the camp. (I wish my scanner was working, we took a lot of pictures that day!)

Here is what I learned:

By 1864, the war had dragged on for four long years.  Prisoner of War camps on both sides of the war were getting overcrowded. Housing, feeding and health problems were a cause of great concern.  Each time prisoners were exchanged to ease the overcrowded prisons, the Union soldiers, who had been drafted, would go home. Southern prisoners, however, would return to their units and keep fighting.  In order to break the vicious cycle, Lincoln decided to halt all prisoner exchanges.  Unfortunately, because of this decision, prisoners on both sides suffered greatly.

The Chemung Valley in New York State was full of rich land and luscious crops of vegetables and grains.  Fruit trees grew in abundance on the beautiful hills on each side of the valley, ideal for firewood.  An abandoned Union army camp one mile west of Elmira in West Central, NY would make the ideal location for an additional prison camp, the barracks could hold up to 4,000 prisoners, with another thousand housed in tents.  This would be the model prison camp. Or…not.

Before the war ended less than a year later, the camp would have housed 12,000 Confederate Prisoners of War and nearly 3,000 –25%–would die from disease, exposure and starvation, making it double the average death rate of other Northern camps, and only slightly less than the death rate at Andersonville.

On July 6, 1864, the first 400 prisoners arrived.  By the end of the month, the number was up to 4,400.  By the end of August, nearly 10,000 men were confined there, many of them sleeping out in the open with no blankets or shelter.

By mid-August, rations were dwindling and the decision was made to limit the prisoners to bread and water.  Malnutrition, combined with the overcrowded conditions, allowed for disease to spread rapidly among the men.  Scurvy, diarrhea, pneumonia and smallpox ran rampant, taking the lives of 1,264 prisoners before winter.  Survivors gave the camp its new nickname “Helllmira.”

Adding to the disease, all the garbage, including human waste, from the camp was thrown into nearby Foster’s Pond.  The stagnant water fouled the air with a rancid odor.  Typhoid fever, caused by the putrid pond, became epidemic.  Quinine ordered by the prison camp doctor was black marketed, and never made it to the prisoners.  By November the death toll had reached 755.

Washington either ignored, or never received, requests for better medical supplies or food.  A contract to supply beef each week to the prisoners failed to stipulate the quality of the cattle, thus the cattle provided to the prison were scrawny, underfed dairy farm rejects with very little meat on their bones. Clothing to provide shelter against the oncoming winter was also virtually nonexistent.

When harsh winter conditions set in at the end of 1864, the death toll rose sharply.  By March of 1865, the death average was 16 prisoners a day.  By the time Lee surrendered to Grant in April of 1865, 1,264 prisoners had perished at the camp.

Survivors were released in groups at the end of the war and provided a food ration, money or a transportation voucher and placed on a train to a Union army depot in Northern Virginia.  From there they were provided assistance home.  Given the frail condition of so many of the men, one can only wonder how many never made it that far.

There isn’t enough room on this blog to detail the many horrors these men endured.  Google searches of Col. Stumbo’s name, or the title of his book The Elmira Hellhole, or his reenactment group, the 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry, turned up nothing.  For further reading on the subject I recommend: Portals to Hell: Military Prisons of the Civil War by Lonnie Speer as well as many of the websites devoted to this topic.

Notes: the sexton for Woodlawn Cemetery was a former slave who had escaped north on the underground railroad.  He buried each Confederate soldier that died in the prison camp.  Of 2,963 soldiers he buried, only seven are listed as unknown.  The burial site was declared a national cemetery in 1877.

It is also necessary to mention that there are many stories of the people of Elmira providing food, clothing and blankets to the prisoners and attempting to obtain medical care for them.  They did everything in their power to aid the prisoners and call attention to the neglect at the camp.

On July 16, 1864 a train loaded with prisoners headed for the prison camp crashed head on near Shohola, PA (along the NYS border) with a loaded coal train heading for New York City.  Forty-eight prisoners and 17 Union guards were killed immediately, with many more injured.  Only six prisoners took the opportunity to escape. The dead were buried at the crash site and later relocated to Woodlawn National Cemetery with a proper marker.

Civil War Spies

In recent months my research has taken me down some fascinating roads.  I started out researching Civil War spies, in particular those who served the confederacy.  What would make someone risk their life for a cause, not in the brave, bold manner of a solider, but in the covert, dangerous role of spy? What I found were loyal Southerners. (Next time out I’ll try to come up with a storyline that features a Union spy, but this particular character came to me as a Southerner.)

When we hear the word “spy” most of us probably think of James Bond, or, if you’re a Burn Notice fan like me, Michael Weston comes to mind.  Fun, exciting stuff.

But the real life Civil War spies I studied really didn’t do anything as exciting as in the movies or on television.

Take Thomas Conrad, for example.  One of the Confederacy’s most effective spies.  He initially planned to kidnap President Lincoln and assassinate Union General Winfield Scott.  Conrad posed as a man of the cloth, a disguise that allowed him to easily make his way into Union territory where he was able to garner strategies and plans.  While his plan to kidnap Lincoln and assassinate Scott never materialized, he was briefly arrested after Lincoln’s assassination, mistaken—because he’d shaved his beard—for John Wilkes Booth.

Rose O’Neal Greenhow.  One of my favorite spy stories.  A Washington socialite and widow, before the war she had entertained international diplomats and members of Congress as well as President Buchanan.  These ties made it easy for the Southerner to collect covert intelligence for the new Southern government.  Rose is most famous for continuing her spy activities even while under house arrest surrounded by Union guards. Rose passed information along via her maid, who carried information in hollowed out pieces of fruit, her shoes, and even occasionally rolled up and tucked into her hair.

Antonia Ford.  Ford held parties for Union officers and soldiers in her home in Fairfax, VA.  Beauty and charm made it easy for her to collect information from her guests, who had no idea she was collecting information for the Confederacy.

Laura Ratclifee allowed Colonel John Mosby and his rangers to use her home in Squirrel Hill, PA for meetings.  She also allowed them to use a large rock on her property as a rendezvous point to exchange messages and information.

Belle Boyd.  One of the more colorful female spies, her story is a bit more exciting than the others.  Boyd first came to the attention of Union officers when she shot and killed a soldier trying to hang a Union flag from her home in Martinsburg, VA.  Since the chivalry of the time kept men from doling out harsh treatment to women, she was scolded for the crime, but not imprisoned.  Boyd soon began her career of carrying information about Union forces to Confederate officers and is credited for providing information helpful to Stonewall Jackson’s success in the Shenandoah Valley campaign in the spring of 1862.

Reading the stories of these real life spies has given me great insight into the mind of my fictional spy.  Even if I am a little disappointed that there were no fancy gadgets, high-speed chases or explosions.

Next month I’ll be talking about my visit to Elmira, NY, and my research into the prison camp known as Hellmira.

Historic April

In keeping with my current research topic, I was planning to talk a little bit today about female Civil War spies and how their courage and resolve helped shape the outcome of the Civil War. But my muse refuses to cooperate (hopefully it will be more accommodating next time around.)

Hoping to inspire a blog, I began browsing different “today in history” sites and anything else that jumped into my mind. It may not be of interest to anyone else, but I was pretty surprised to see that–during the Civil War era, at least–April was a busy month. This particular week in April was especially busy.

So below is proof positive that, when I’m bored, I’m easily impressed. *G*

I’ll be back next time with those crafty and daring female spies.

1861

April 12, 1861 – At 4:30 a.m. Confederates under Gen. Pierre Beauregard open fire with 50 cannons upon Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. The Civil War begins.

April 14, 1861. Fort Sumter, having been captured by the rebels, flies the “Stars and Bars” of the Confederacy.

April 15, 1861 – President Lincoln issues a Proclamation calling for 75,000 militiamen, and summons a special session of Congress for July 4.

April 17, 1861 – Virginia secedes from the Union, followed within five weeks by Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina, thus forming an eleven state Confederacy with a population of 9 million, including nearly 4 million slaves. The Union will soon have 21 states and a population of over 20 million.

April 19, 1861 – President Lincoln issues a Proclamation of Blockade against Southern ports. For the duration of the war the blockade limits the ability of the rural South to stay well supplied in its war against the industrialized North.

April 20, 1861 – Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army, saying. “I cannot raise my hand against my birthplace, my home, my children.” Lee then goes to Richmond, Virginia, is offered command of the military and naval forces of Virginia, and accepts.

1862

April 6/7, 1862 – Confederate surprise attack on Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s unprepared troops at Shiloh on the Tennessee River results in a bitter struggle with 13,000 Union killed and wounded and 10,000 Confederates, more men than in all previous American wars combined. The president is pressured to relieve Grant but resists, saying. “I can’t spare this man; he fights.”

April 24, 1862 – 17 Union ships under the command of Flag Officer David Farragut move up the Mississippi River then take New Orleans, the South’s greatest seaport. Later in the war, sailing through a Rebel mine field Farragut utters the famous phrase “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

1865

April 2, 1865 – Grant’s forces begin a general advance and break through Lee’s lines at Petersburg. Confederate Gen. Ambrose Hill is killed. Lee evacuates Petersburg. The Confederate Capital of Richmond is evacuated. Fires and looting break out. The next day, Union troops enter and raise the Stars and Stripes.

April 4, 1865 – President Lincoln tours Richmond, where he enters the Confederate White House and sits at the desk of Jefferson Davis for a few moments.

April 9, 1865 – Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders his Confederate Army to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House in Virginia. Grant allows Rebel officers to keep their sidearms and permits soldiers to keep horses and mules. “After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources,” Lee tells his troops.

April 10, 1865 – Celebrations break out in Washington.

April 14, 1865 – The Stars and Stripes is raised over Fort Sumter. That night, Lincoln and his wife Mary see the play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater. At 10:13 p.m., during the third act of the play, John Wilkes Booth shoots the president in the head. Doctors attend to the president in the theater then move him to a house across the street. He never regains consciousness.

April 15, 1865 – President Abraham Lincoln dies at 7:22 in the morning. Vice President Andrew Johnson assumes the presidency.

April 18, 1865 – Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrenders to Sherman near Durham in North Carolina. President Lincoln lays in state in the East Room of The White House. The White House gates open at 9:30 a.m. and more than 25,000 mourners pay their respects throughout the day, many having waited in line for up to six hours.

April 26, 1865 – John Wilkes Booth is shot and killed in a tobacco barn in Virginia.

Confessions of a Grammar Snob

As a writer, I pay close attention to words and their use (my husband might argue that I pay a little too much attention.). I have to —my job, my professionalism, depends on it. The rest of the world doesn’t have to be quite so vigilant.

But a recent headline announcing that the second largest city in the UK had decided to drop the use of the apostrophe on all city signs left me … well, speechless. What do you mean no apostrophe?? Would society as we know it not come to a screeching halt if St. Paul’s Square was suddenly St. Pauls Square? Apparently the town council of Birmingham thinks not. Be still my poor heart. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090131/ap_on_re_eu/eu_britain_no_apostrophe

While I can’t do anything about this debacle (and my tongue is only partially in my cheek at calling it a debacle) it made me realize how often my writer’s ear hears things that make it cringe.

Where are you at?” The other night, my not-so-trustworthy 14 year old minivan decided to gasp its last about 1.5 miles from home. It was dark and cold, but I was in a relatively safe area, the State Parkway, which is well patrolled by State troopers. I must not have been too terribly upset because when I called AAA for a tow, the operator’s use of this phrase still hurt my ear. Since he was sending a truck to fetch me, I decided not to utter a very snobbish “I’m sorry, did you mean to say where are you?” But it still bothered me…

For God Sakes! Or For Pete Sakes! Now that one sends the heebie jeebies right up and down my spine. This is a clear example of people not thinking about the words they’re saying, yet I hear this in movies, on television, etc. No matter whose name you use, it is for their sake. Not their sakes. My husband is Pete and last I knew he only had one sake to worry about. So it is for Pete’s sake—and his alone– that I write this. So for Pete’s sake, get it right!

Badly. To do something badly is to not do it well. When I hear someone say they “want a new pair of shoes so badly” I feel like saying—you don’t know how to want well? Come visit my 8 year old, he’s the king of want, he’ll teach you not only how to want, but how to make an art form of it. So don’t want a new pair of shoes badly—want them bad enough to find a way to get them!

It goes without saying that hearing these things spoken aloud isn’t nearly as bad as reading them in print. And I really don’t mean to sound like a snob, nor am I saying I use perfect grammar all the time (in fact I probably missed a few typos in this post). But when you use words as a means of making a living, certain things jump out at you. So how about you? Any words or phrases that drive your ears—or eyes, if you’re reading—crazy? Or am I just a frustrated writer who should have been an English teacher?

Civil War Hero: Mary Edwards Walker, MD

me-walker-young2What do you think of when you hear the phrase “Civil War hero?” For a lot of people, it’s probably a stone monument you’ve seen in a National park. Or maybe the black and white image from a school textbook of Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant or Stonewall Jackson.

What about Mary Edwards Walker, MD? The more I learn about this remarkable woman, the more her name and image comes to mind when I think of Civil War heroes. Some of the titles I found while researching her life: American feminist, abolitionist, prohibitionist, alleged spy, prisoner of war, surgeon—and the only woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. Sounds like my kind of heroine!

Born in Oswego, NY (not far from my hometown) in 1832, she was the daughter of a country doctor. Her father was a bit of a free-thinker –he was an abolitionist; believed in educating women and in equality of the sexes. He also believed that women were hampered by their tight-fitting clothing.

Not surprisingly, Mary was a Women’s Rights enthusiast and very outspoken on the issue of women’s dress reform. In the mid-19th century, as women were striving for a more public and professional role in society, many feminists argued that women’s clothing – tight corsets and long, heavy skirts—limited a woman’s mobility, and was bad for her health overall. Mary wholeheartedly supported this belief as well as the Bloomer movement spearheaded by Amelia Bloomer, inventor of the “Turkish pantaloon” that bears her last name. (The pants did become popular at the turn of the 19th century, as women took to bicycling—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.) Mary embraced the bloomer costume, as it was known, a dress and trouser combination that preserved feminine modestly while allowing greater freedom of movement. Many feminists abandoned the style of dress when the clothing caused more of a stir than the reform idea behind it. Not Mary. In fact, later in her life, she began to dress entirely in men’s clothing. me-walker-in-bloomer-dress1

In June, 1855 Mary –the only woman in her class—joined the tiny rank of women’s doctors in the nation when she graduated from Syracuse Medical College, the nation’s first medical school and one which accepted men and women equally. Mary graduated at the age of 21 after three 13-week semesters of medical training.

In 1856 she married fellow physician Albert Miller. She wore trousers and a man’s coat for her wedding and kept her own last name. They set up a medical practice together in Rome, NY, but the public was not ready to accept a woman physician, and the practice never really took off. The couple divorced after 13 years of marriage, due to Albert’s philandering. It has been said that he offered his wife the same freedom’s within their marriage if she would stay with him, but in Mary’s typical outspoken style, she told him she’d rather be a divorcee than an adulteress.

When the Civil War broke out, she traveled to Washington to join the Union Army. She was denied a commission as a medical officer, but volunteered anyway, serving as an acting assistant surgeon—the first female surgeon in the US Army. Unpaid in her role as volunteer, she first worked in the US Patent Office Hospital in Washington , and later as a field surgeon near the Union front lines including Fredericksburg, and Chattanooga.

In 1863, Walker was finally appointed assistant surgeon in the Army of the Cumberland. For this she made herself a modified officer’s uniform to wear while working with solders in field hospitals. She was then appointed assistant surgeon on the 52nd Ohio Infantry. It is widely believed (but never has been confirmed) that during this period she also served as a spy. She regularly crossed Confederate lines to treat civilians and was taken prisoner in 1864 by Confederate troops and imprisoned in Richmond for four months until she was exchanged, along with two other Union doctors, for 17 Confederate surgeons.

She was released back to the 52nd Ohio, but spent the rest of the war practicing at a Louisville female prison and orphan’s asylum in Tennessee. She was paid $766.16 for her war service. Afterward, she received a monthly pension of $8.50. This was later raised to $20, but was still far less than even wartime widows’ pensions.

me-walker-older2On November 11, 1864, President Johnson signed a bill to present Dr. Mary Edwards Walker with the Congressional Medal of Honor for Meritorious Service, in recognition of her contributions to the war efforts.

In 1917, her Congressional Medal of Honor, along with the medals of 900 others—was taken away when Congress revised the Medal of Honor standards to include “actual combat with the enemy.” According to some records, when representatives arrived at her door to retrieve the medal, Mary now in her 80s, ran them off with a loaded shotgun. She wore the medal every day until her death in 1919.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter restored Mary’s medal posthumously, recognizing her distinguished gallantry, self sacrifice, patriotism, dedication, and unflinching loyalty to her country.

In WWII, a Liberty Ship was named for her, the SS Mary Walker.

In 1982, the US Postal Service issued at 20 cent stamp in her honor.

The medical facilities at SUNY Oswego are named in her honor. On the same grounds a plaque explains her importance in the Oswego community.

There is a United States Army Reserve center named for her in Walker, Michigan.

For more information on the life of Mary Edward’s Walker, I recommend: Civil War Doctor: the Life of Mary Edwards Walker by Carla Joinson http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Civil-War-Doctor/Carla-Joinson/e/9781599350288/?itm=1 and Yankee Women, Gender Battles in the Civil War by Elizabeth Leonard. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Yankee-Women/Elizabeth-D-Leonard/e/9780393313727/?itm=2

Social Etiquette in the Victorian Era

Do you ever run into this problem when researching? You begin researching one specific thing, which leads to something else that intrigues you, so you decide to learn more about that—and so on and so on until you’ve spent so much time reading and researching, you haven’t had time to write!(That’s my excuse, anyway, and I’m sticking to it. *G*)

But that’s exactly what happened to me when I began to research social etiquette in the Victorian era. Now, mind you, my fellow Victorians know this stuff like the backs of their hands and will probably snicker when they read this post—they undoubtedly already knew all of this. I didn’t. When writing historical, my heroes (Cowboys. Ranchers. Lawmen. Gunslingers.) usually eschew society and customs. So it’s all new to me to be writing about a character who makes it his business to know these things. And kind of fun!

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve learned.

Here’s my card.

Today, we think nothing of handing someone our business card with contact information on it. If you’ve ever been to an RWA conference, you’ve seen this exchange many times over. But did you know that it was once considered bad manners to hand a social acquaintance a card with your personal business information on it? Like with everything else, there were rules to be followed!

Every gentleman and lady had engraved calling cards. Some were made of thick paperboard, some were even made of copper. The cards served as an introduction and there were many rules regarding their custom and use.

  • A married woman’s card was larger than her husband’s; his had to fit in a breast pocket.
  • A young girl could only have calling cards after she had been properly presented to society.
  • Cards were always presented by a servant to the mistress of the house. If the mistress wasn’t home, the caller was not welcome.
  • Servants collected the cards on silver trays or glass bowls and present the cards to the lady of the house with the most important caller on top.
  • After moving to a new neighborhood, it was polite to wait until your new neighbors left you their card before attempting to meet them.
  • A proper lady (or gentleman) never wrote regrets or accepts on a card as a reply to an invitation. These required a hand-written note.

There was an elaborate system of “card protocol” to be remembered, as well, and an even more elaborate system of turning corners up or down to show whether you were leaving on a short trip, a long trip or moving away permanently.

Hat’s Off!

Did you know hat etiquette was practiced mostly by cowboys? The practice dates back to the days of chivalry when knights would raise their helmet shields as a sign of respect. But it was the American cowboy who popularized the custom. According to the John B. Stetson Hat Company (founded in 1868) there are very specific rules to dictate when a man should tip his hat and when to remove it.

Tip your hat…

*If a lady thanks you

*After receiving directions from a stranger

*If you excuse yourself to a lady

*When walking with another man and he greets a woman you don’t know

Remove your hat…

*During the playing of the national anthem

*Upon entering a building

*During an introduction

*When attending a funeral

*When initiating a conversation.

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