Saturday, April 16, 2011

Thomas Harold Derr's Calling Card

A calling card was tucked into the poetry book that belonged to my Grandfather Thomas Harold Derr. On it his name is displayed in a flourish of cursive writing which could only be considered calligraphy. I doubt that he wrote with such elegance in his normal daily writings, or perhaps he ordered calling cards like we do business cards. But since he was known to be artistically inclined, I choose to believe that it was his hand that wrote his signature so beautifully using a nibbed dip, or fountain, pen.

I found the information listed below interesting, though I doubt that there were servants available to receive and deliver a calling card in the residences of either of my ancestors. I can imagine Harold, as he was commonly referred to, visiting Mabel and presenting his card to my future Grandmother, or her family, while he courted her prior to their marriage in 1915. I expect that they were made to follow proper etiquette since she was apparently brought up in a religious English household and he was of Pennsylvania Dutch stock. It is said that the practice continued to survive until about 1920. It seems a romantic tradition, but served a useful purpose for making connections in business and society and were carried by men and women alike. 

Mabel Olive Stanton

Calling Card Etiquette, 18-19th centuries

"Calling" was a somewhat ritualized version of the fine old custom of "visiting". There were certain fixed rules laid down by society which might apply to a resident in a small town with the same force as in a large city.

• On making a first call you must have a card for each lady of the household.

• On making a call leave your card to the servant. You will be allowed to see the hostess only after she examines your card.

• On the hall table in every house, there should be a small silver, or other card tray, a pad and a pencil.

• When the door-bell rings, the servant on duty should have the card tray ready to present, on the palm of the left hand.

• A gentleman should carry them loose in a convenient pocket; but a lady may use a card case.

• If your card receives no acknowledgment, you must conclude that for some reasons they do not wish to extend their acquaintance.

• Do not examine the cards in the card-basket. You have no right to investigate as to who calls on a lady.

• A young lady can have a card of her own after having been in society a year.

• American gentleman should never fold the corner of his card, despite of the temporary fashion. Some European gentlemen, on the contrary, fold the upper right corner to indicate that they've delivered it themselves (the servant should never hand his master's card folded).

• Fold the card in the middle if you wish to indicate that the call is on several, or all of the members of the family.

Signs on a visiting card

The initial letters you can meet on personal cards stand for the French words:

• p. f. - congratulations (pour féliciter)

• p. r. - expressing one's thanks (pour remercier) - even if one is presented with flowers

• p. c. - mourning expression (pour condoléance)

• p. f. N. A. - Happy New Year (pour feliciter Nouvel An)

• p. p. c. - meaning to take leave (pour prendre congé)

• p. p. - if you want to be introduced to anybody, send your visiting card (pour présenter)

Thomas Harold Derr

If you would like to learn more about the tradition of Calling Cards, you may want to visit
The Gentleman's Guide to the Calling Card ~ The Art of Manliness
Especially since the use of the Calling Card is now said to be making a comeback.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Great Grandpa Brooks' Metal Handled Hatchet

My Dad kept this old hatchet his whole life, it was given to him by his Grandpa Brooks when he was just a young boy. He told me the short story many times, and always reminded me "It's the metal handle hatchet in the basement with my initials marked on it." While I was in college in the 1980's I took several Geology classes. One was a summer field class where we would go rock hounding every weekend. I couldn't wait for the hiking, climbing and digging for rock specimens and fossils. One day I was showing Dad the required equipment for the class, which included a hard hat, rock hammer and testing supplies like hydrochloric acid. I had to run to the store and left my backpack leaning against the chair where I had been sitting. When I got back, there were four items with my pack. As I picked them up, he said "I thought you might be able to use those two rock hammers for your Geology stuff. The smaller one was that one I had still hanging around, just needed a new handle. And the other one is the one that came from Grandpa Hall's, remember? It was just the head - didn't have a handle on it..." He had put new wooden handles on both of them for me. I now had three different sized rock hammers for my geology digs and an old rock chisel he had included as well.
 The other item really surprised me, it was the metal handled hatchet. I asked "Isn't this your Grandpa Brooks' hatchet?" " Yep", he said, "figured you might as well have that too, since I always kept them together down there." That soon had a place on the wall, next to my Grandpa Hall's Cobbler set. But the mining tools went straight into my rock pack. and that's where they stay. And they've gotten quite a bit of use and still do every so often. Those two older style hammers were the smaller sized ones that the miners carried on their belts in the coal mines, my Grandpa Hall worked in the coal mines all his life, and my Dad also had a very short stint in the mines as a young man. Although Great Grandpa Brooks, my Dad's Maternal Grandfather, had worked as a Carpenter for most of his life.       

James George Brooks

Thomas James Hall

James G. Brooks was born in 1868, so that made him about 48 when my Dad was born in 1916. It must have been in the early 1920's when he gave his grandson the metal handled hatchet. Dad's story included the description of his Grandpa helping him stamp his initials into the metal of the head of the hatchet. It wasn't new when it was given to him, it was one that his grandfather had already had and was used. Together they punched the letter "T' for Thomas one one side, and the letter "H" on the other, for Hall.

My Dad's full name was Thomas James Hall, Thomas for his father, and his middle name of James after his Grandpa Brooks. He seemed proud of that and was sure to point out who his namesakes were.