Still Worth a Trip to the Mailbox

Sad to hear yesterday that Newsweek is up for sale, and no potential buyers in sight. When Dan and I married and combined our households in the mid-‘80’s there were only a handful of things we had in duplicate, our subscriptions to Newsweek being one of them. I’ve been eagerly anticipating its arrival in my mailbox each Monday now going on 25 years! The mailboxes have changed, and through the years Newsweek has too. The magazine got a dramatic makeover just about a year ago, and became more intellectual (think essays that add to the conversation) rather than informational. I can’t think of anyone in the land I’d rather have a weekly conversation with than Fareed Zakaria, Jon Meacham and Evan Thomas. Like everyone else, I turn to the web for immediate news. I catch The Daily Show, buy an occasional hardback, and watch the Sunday news shows. And yes, count me in with those people who still like to hold a magazine in their hands every week.

With the last remake, the magazine added a back page feature called Back Story. This week’s page asked "Could You Be a Home Economist in 1950?" and extracted a few questions posed to students from the New York State Regents High School Examination. Here are a couple to test your skills:

If, at dinner, your hostess spreads a whole slice of bread and eats it without breaking it, the most acceptable procedure for you would be to

  1. avoid eating bread

  2. eat bread the same way she does

  3. break your bread into two pieces and spread it as you eat it

  4. break your bread into four pieces and spread it as you eat it

  5. suggest a more desirable practice for eating bread

Having received Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette for Christmas 1962, and reading it from cover to cover, it being the only book I owned, this one was easy. I knew that my hostess’s bad behavior did not relieve me of the responsibility of one of the most challenging of dining skills. The process of consuming a large piece of bread began by breaking it into quarters, buttering a single section, returning the butter knife to the plate and only then, consuming and repeating.

Which of the following is a good rule for the weekly cleaning of a bedroom?

  1. Begin cleaning at the top.

  2. Start sweeping at the door.

  3. Be sure windows are closed to keep out the dust.

  4. Straighten dresser drawers.

  5. Rearrange furniture.


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