Paintbox Summer by Betty Cavanna (1949)

A summer on Cape Code, studying in Peter Hunt's studio! Beach parties, swimming, summer fun! A dream summer for any girl. Kate Vale, heroine of Paintbox Summer by Betty Cavanna, popular author for teen-agers, has just that. At Provincetown, on the tip of Cape Code, Peter Hunt established his colorful workshop, Peasant Village, where young people come to study. His gaily decorated furniture and novelties are known around the world. (from the back cover)

Green Eyes by Jean Nielsen (1955)

 "I was just thinking about the play," Danny said, his usually candid eyes not meeting hers. "It's going to be out of this world."
"And that's exactly what we'll say in our editorial," Jan agreed.
"I was being personal, not editorial," Danny explained painfully. He went on slowly. "I was thinking of how much I'd like to ask you for a date to go to the play if I weren't afraid you'd snap back that you had to work or you wish I'd drop dead or something."
 On another day, she might have snapped at him and refused his offer because she was embarrassed. Today it seemed perfectly natural to lean over the banister, smile, and say, "I'd love to go to the play with you, Danny." (from the back cover)

The Luckiest Girl by Beverly Cleary (1958)

Shelley looked out into the soft night and smiled. I am the luckiest girl in San Sebastian, she thought, because I am sixteen and Philip likes me.

At home in Oregon, Shelley had not been in this blissful state. She had grown tired of going steady with her friend Jack, and tired of having everything decided for her: especially that she must wear the pink raincoat with the black velveteen collar that her mother had bought for her, instead of the yellow slicker she wanted. So when she was invited to spend the coming school year in southern California, Shelley's parents decided the change would be good for her. And now, just as she had been sure she would, she had found the boy she had always wanted to meet.

Their romance, however, is only one part of this funny and tender and wonderful book. What follows it is even more enchantingly gilded with a lovely light--the very shine of youth. (from the inside flap)

The Complete Works of Gay Head

All right, so it's probably not the complete works--it's only the ones I own.  Hi There, High School by Gay Head (my edition is from 1968) is the first one I picked up, probably at a library sale.  Since the cover's not that engaging, I probably thought the author's name was funny--and I still do.  The following intro from Hi There, High School is a better rendition of Gay Head's style than any I could give. See image below.

Fun fact I just learned:  Gay Head is a woman!  I'm not sure why, but I always pictured Gay Head as a man.  It's kind of shaking my world.  Also, once Gay Head went on to better things, other people wrote under Gay Head's name.  The next thing you'll tell me is that Nancy Drew wasn't written by Carolyn Keene. 

Here's more of the Gay Head ouevre:

Boy Dates Girl (my edition - 1962).  From the back cover:
Those three words, BOY DATES GIRL, can run into hundreds of questions.  In this book, we tackle those you've asked most often.  We look at your individual problems:  Which is the salad fork?  Is it all right to "dutch date"?  And we dig into basic issues:  What makes a successful person  What makes a successful party?
Really?  The most compelling question that would come up in Boy Dates Girl is which is the salad fork?  And for some reason the wording "dutch date" sounds much more interesting (and dirty) than "going Dutch."  Anyhoo.  Hopefully, the letters are more compelling in Dear Gay Head (also printed in 1962), the title of which might just be my favorite non-existent band name ever. 

But the real winner, for title alone, is Etiquette for Young Moderns (1954).  My copy of this is water-stained, falling apart, probably moldy, but I could never throw anything away with so awesome a title.  From the intro:
 "Etiquette--that's just fluff!"  Hank exclaimed when his sister Sylvia, chided him for not holding open the front door for her.  "If you ask me, I'll take brains and ability--and skip the manners--to show what a person's worth."
Whoa there, Hank!  The person who has brains and ability without good manners may never get a chance to provide his worth.  His poor manners will antagonize others--both in business and social activities.
And that's straight from Gay Head!  Just to recap:  Hee, Gay Head.  And I'm six. 

Into Your Teens by Helen Schacter, Ph D, et al (1959)

A textbook published by Scott Foresman in 1959, Into Your Teens is listed as part of the Health and Personal Development Program.  There are a huge amount of these books around, most of which I've seen published from the 30s through the 60s.  After that, they must have given up on teens.  I sure don't remember any guide like this when I was in school.

Into Your Teens is broken down into the following units: Teen Troubles, Understanding Yourself and Others, Living in a Family, Your Health Questions, Living Safely, and Looking Ahead.  This book has everything to correct and develop the young teen, and make excellent citizens of them all. 

Plus, adorable art!  (This time credited to three artists: Connie Moran, Clara Ernst, and Felix Traugott.)

With a friendly, chatty tone, this textbook is liberally illustrated with all sorts of social and personal development situations students can use in their own lives.  One of my favorite things about this book, though, are the little inset images with a wistful youth asking poignant questions.  Such as:

Aw, don't worry, sad and pouty youth!  It will all work out in the end.   If this book doesn't help answer those questions, I don't know what will. 

But of all of the troubled teens, this one is my favorite:

Me too, kid.  Me too.  But look at you figuring it out so early!  There's hope for you and your wavy hair and your styling collar.  My advice to you is to cheerfully ignore it.  It's worked beautifully for me.

Living with Others by Laurence B. Goodrich (1939)

In the foreword to Living with Others: A Book on Social Conduct, Laurence B. Goodrich writes that "the art of making and maintaining pleasant and effective human relationships is one that can be learned.  In the pages that follow, the reader will find discussion of those attitudes and techniques essential to gracious community living." 

Although this is a typically charming book of the era, even starting with an epigraph by Jonathan Swift and an anecdote about Theodore Roosevelt, for me the charm of this book is in its adorable line drawings illustrating its many salient points about conversation, hospitality, behavior and correspondence (sadly not credited to any artist--come on, American Book Company!).  See below an image from the chapter on conversation.  Learn from Merle's excellent example!

Practical Goodrich points out in the first chapter, "The Good Mixer", that "persons unskilled in the diversions which furnish activity for social get-togethers are a source of uneasiness and perplexity to those who wish them well."  What does he recommend?

"Learn to ride horses, sail and row boats, drive cars, paddle canoes, shoot guns, handle tools cook, sew, knit, build fires, and wash dishes....The more things we know how to do, the better we are likely to mix." 

Oh yes, and don't forget: "A well-dressed mind is just as essential to social success as a well-dressed body."

One more image I love:  This is actually from the "Appearance Counts" section of the book.  This image is meant to illustrate that "well-dressed means suitably dressed.  School and office are not the places for cast-off party dresses, nor are street and store the proper setting for sun suits and lounging pajamas."  However, I love this image because it's how I always imagined a lady author of a certain era dressed to write.  Being an author looks like such fun!

Although this is a fun, chatty book filled with anecdotes and quotes, the charm is all in the illustrations.  A few years ago (pre-scanner), I (probably illegally) took the book to Kinko's and made writing stationery by copying these images onto some lovely writing paper I bought an estate sale.  What part of that doesn't make me feel and sound one hundred years old?  Copy machines?  Writing paper?  Sigh.  It was adorable stationery, though.

Emily Post's Etiquette (1940)

I remember quite clearly the estate sale where I bought this book.  It was tucked away in a basement alcove, and yet in beautiful, worn but immaculate condition.  I was once told by a palm reader that I have 'psychic fingers'--that I can sense things through my hands.  I've never felt it more clearly than when I picked up this book.  This book gave me such a strong sense of calmness, of graciousness, and essential goodness.  I've always treasured this book, and it started my mild obsession with collecting vintage books on  etiquette, charm, and entertaining. 

Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage by Emily Post (Mrs. Price Post, according to the title page) was originally printed in 1922 and went through many, many printings before my little 1940 edition was published.  The contents include a plethora of fascinating topics including At the Opera, the Theater, and Other Public Gatherings, Manners for Motorists, The Well-Appointed House, The Debutante, The Vanished Chaperon and Other Lost Conventions, Modern Exactions of Courtesy, What We Contribute to the Beauty of Living, and, of course, Flat Silver--Its Choice and Usage--Condensed Table Setting. 

In the first chapter Mrs. Post explores "The True Meaning of Etiquette", and describes it beautifully:
It is hard to say why the word "etiquette" is so inevitably considered merely a synonym of the word "correct," as though it were no more than the fixed answer to a sum in arithmetic.  ... I wish that those whose minds are focused on precise obedience to every precept would ask themselves instead, "What is the purpose of the rule?  Does it help to make life pleasanter?  Does it make the social machinery run more smoothly?  Does it add to beauty? Is it essential to the code of good taste or to ethics?  If it serves any of these purposes, it is a rule to be cherished; but if it serves no essential purpose, it is certainly not worth taking very seriously.
For anyone interested in American culture of the first half of the 20th century, this is a mesmerizing look at a world that was changing in radical ways.  Although there's still a great deal of info about details like "The Well-Appointed House", butlers and other servants and all, there are chapters on situations like "The Modern Man and Girl (!)", where Mrs. Post attempts to solve the issues raised by women and men working together in professional situations.  Apart from the social and historical interest, this is also just a delightfully written reference book.  From a section entitled "The Bow of a Woman of Charm":
Nothing is so easy for any woman to acquire as a charming bow.  It is such a short and fleeting duty.  Not a bit of trouble really; just to incline your head and spontaneously smile as though you though "Why, there you are!  How glad I am to see you!"
So charming!  Should you be interested in learning more about Emily Post, and the vast empire of etiquette she founded, that continues to this very day, you may enjoy Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners by Laura Claridge.