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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, August 27, 1911, Image 3

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The San Francisco Sunday Call
Mary Tremaine Hayes
Lit |'IHB1 HB politeness, is she dead?" is
I the question recently asked by
I a French newspaper. But oh,
"ye gods and little fishes"! this
question has long since been settled in
San Francisco. Politeness, as/ It was
understood by our .grandmothers, even
• our mothers, Is,not only dead, but so
safely laid ax^fey that even Its ghost
does not walk.
• That Immortal definition
True politeness is to do ud.stj
. The kindest thing In the kindest war.
* was written when the world was young
—before the day of the trolley, the ele
vated, the subway and the automobile;
t before the discovery of steam and elec
tricity. Sir Walter Raleigh was not
catching a 5:37 train to Burlingame
when he took the time to remove his
coat, turrrthe sleeves out and throw It
in his liege's path. Also, this defini
tion was' written during the epoch be
tween the toga and' the * hoopsklrt,
when woman was the creature of mas
culine care; when the heart of man
expanded with a sense of lordliness, as
* his strong arm was swung out over
i».e head of clinging woman.
Present day conditions have evolved
, their concomitant results, but we are
desltag with now with effects, , not
* eauswx There are cities in. our south
ern states today where the spirit of our
I*l d school politeness still exists. To
, 'trie grown up In this atmosphere, where
he ghost of the cavalier days still
»/talkT3, the spirit of your bustling west
»rn city presents a worldwide contrast.
There a lady, on entering a streetcar,
may be assisted to stejj up by a cour
teous strAger on the platform, upon
entering the car be given a seat by a
gentleman, who raises his hat, and
says, "Please take my seat, madam."
And, upon leaving . the car, place is
made for her to move through the
crowded aisle. In Baltimore and Rich
mond even the gripman not infre
quently calls to a lady running to
catch his car, "Don't let me hurry you,
, madam. Take your time." And the
car waits until the lady has had time
to make it comfortably. This was the
contrast that confronted me, a stranger'
within your gates, upon reaching your
city., last Thursday, struggling alone
over your fog 'drenched pavement with
my stiff ; knee. Incumbered with suit
j■, • -■--.-•--.- --•■.- -■.-..:
case, grip and umbrella.
"Step lively, mum," the, conductor Jon
your Market street shouted at me as 5 I
. signaled him to wait, "you got to hustle
•If you want this car." Panting and
. flushed I reached the car, elbowed my
• way through a knot of men on the plat
t form who had not made way for me, and
stood clinging as best I could to a
strap until a Chinese sitting; in front of
me reached his corner and got/off. On
s both sides of the ... car; sat men of all
sorts and conditions, buried in their
- papers, refusing to see an inch beyond
% ; their noses. /
Instances of gentle courtesies shown
strangers on streetcars, trains and
waiting rooms occur, I admit, in places.'
not considered strictly up to date, and
"" it took me less, than a day to fill more
plates than I could carry of San Fran-'
Cisco's "up to dateness" caught alive." *-
Before the car had reached my trans
fer point I realized that the spectacle of
A car filled with standing women while
• the seats are occupied by /men is so
common among you as to create no '
comment. But the argument .used in
defense thereof is as , threadbare as the
offense—that the poor,; tired man had
worked all day and deserved his seat.
The first instance of politeness I wit
nessed in your city was from a work
ingman. - From his clothes he was a
plasterer or painter. His coat .was
daubed with the sign of his craft, his
shoulders; drooped after the manner of
the tired, but when/a; wcftnan boarded
the car witn a child in her arms he
arose, punched her in the ribs as the car
gave a lurch, and motioned her to the
seat he, had vacated. Here, of course,
was mere humanity, and although it
came nearer to politeness than anything
I had seen; so far, it was not prompted
by the spirit of courtesy. Several/men
had looked up as the woman entered
and looked away again. This was a
pitiful commentary on the falling of
j •western standards of both politeness and
* Kindness. Neither the sex nor/the'
condition of this woman, had availed to/
evoke the spirit ol.courtesy that reposes/
in undisturbed peace on J your shores.
A decade ago, even In San.- Francisco. : I
dare say, a man who would do a thing
like this would feel boorish and " un
comfortable,. although he might persist.
In his' selfishness from pigheadedness.
.............. .. ■ ,
Today he. holds his head up with no
thought of being below par, custom evi
dently having ; made his conduct pass
for decency.
Howell's; reflection on the dead body
of his friend "as "the silent witness of
his absence" might be used'with much
fuller force anent your . present day
deadness of politeness. Dead?- "v7hy,
bless you, we would have forgotten
that such a thing had ever lived but
for the chronicles In song and. story.
Is, there a woman in this.town who Is
not almost.every day of her life, if she
is down .town during the, busy' hours,
pushed out of the way as a big hog of
a man, by . reason of his ; greater
strength, crowds" into the car to get a
seat first? Not because there is such
a crowd, he- may* not be able to get a
seat at all, but; because • he ' prides him
self upon the fact that he is "up to
date" and a .hustler. This thing of
letting grass grow under your feet, his
manner proclaims, isi a bad thing. Hus
tie anyway! .Naturally, then, this hus
tler who has crowded .into the car be
fore you, when he is ready to leave.the
car, takes the occasion to straighten out
what he chooses to call- the; abuse of
the Sutter street car management In in.
slsting. that the exact fare be dropped
into the hourglass. " Other "hustlers"
and many women 'may" be behind him,
but he • takes his own .good .; time to
raise the- blockade from the door.' He,
is a great big mm with * a great big
fine opinion of himself arid the rest of
the* world really, doesn't matter so very
much, when you come right down to
cases. " . -./ -'„..,;, ■ „"■
The Powell street line, t I surmise,
drains one of the very,best districts of
the city, but on the Powell street cars
I have >seen; instances of the most fla
grant • boorlsriness one could encounter
anywhere. The first instance was at
the crossing of California street, where
the Fairmont, - the University club and
a large apartment " house face each
other. A young man, dressed at/least
like a gentleman, boarded the dummy
and eat beside; me. Taking out his
fare, he deliberately reached across; me.
when he might just as comfortably to
himself and much more - comfortably/to;
me have reached;his arm behind me to
the outstretched hand of " the con-:
ductor. The ru,deness /of his . manner
was lost upon: -4 the chap -.himself—he,
fairly 'reeked/ with * the Ingrowing con
sciousness of /'being himself he
had leaned < against my'shoulder,
breathed in/my face, ; jostled my hat,
crowded ' me down upon . the ; next pas
senger, just % to get his nickel- to/the^
conductor. Such an instance of awk
wardness and rudeness as this is, after
all, only a pitiable ignorance—a lack
of that finer/sense of things that must
be innate or does not exist at all. This
fellow may belong to. one of your best
clubs,' may be a successful; man in his
line, may be kind hearted at the core,
but «he will never be a gentleman
neither -was his-father-before him and
his mother was riot a lady, I don't care
who he is. He is modeled out of coarse
clay. The only place where such rude
ness may, be s€en in the south would be
in a "Jim crow" car. < /
Another illustration of my charge of
the ; San Francisco j man's! lack ; of ; polite
ness occurred on the : dummy rof /this
same; Powell street 1; line. At the inter
, section of, : Powell and Market 'streets a
number/ 0f..: ladles were waiting for a
Jackson; street car. When It stopped a
strapping six footer made lunge;
pushing ladles right and left, and
ensconced'himself in the end of the seat
on" the dummy. I was by this time so
interested in my thumb; nail /studies I
purposely.:- stood in the corner J beside
him, waiting to fee what/would happen.
And : I found i what . I respected * Sitting/at;
an easy"; angle that took /up// space
enoughsor// two,'/ he lit -f a cigar and
puffed the smokef into my face with a
self-satisfaction quite beautiful to see.
As the; car/ filled up other ladies were
crowded into /my,, small space, But this
man held his ground without even an
effort to .move / down. At Buchanan
street he got off and \ ran up ? the steps
of a '/substantial: house with marble
steps. No doubt one of your represent
ative San Francisco business men, prob
ably a good citizen, but a cad f"'A'' :-: V U
; •; Many minor instances /of/the'! lack-of
politeness rather than downright * rude
ness came// under ;my notice, both in
homes /and; public „ places, * but {the "next
thing that/ suggested your western
barbarism/ was my lirst visit/ tor/your.
beautiful. park. SJIt was \ a glorious day
for a stroll and a bask in the sun, and,
taking a book, I betook myself to the
street entrance to- find ra shel
tered scat in/the, sun f and /enjoy/ the
0. U. R. Hustle Is Accused of the Murder
A Woman Visitor to the City Makes the
Startling Discovery and Secretly '
Gathers Evidence That En
ables Her Jo Point the
Accusing Finger
-■/.., -■*, ■'-. //■;' i:'--;„ .-.'"'';.- ■'-.■ ■•-—■: ■ v-; ■'..-'■ *■■ '/'"■■ ■'".;. ,/: .. ■'[■■ '.; f .•■-' ''■..■',/>:' : -/^'/ ; "/SV;-J;v .*/*'"> />_-.:
Are YOU An Accessory Before
Or After the Fact?
blue skies and flowers. The first seat
Jj passed was occupied with nursemaids
and/their/little/charges,-the 'next seat
by a pair of lovers, whom God forbid
to be disturbed. The next few seats
were not In the I sun, so on I walked
until a turn in the path brought me out
of the shadows. Here stretched a row
of ; several benches all In the bright sun
shine, but all occupied by men. Vainly
I looked for a place among them, but
\no one offered either to move along to
make room for me or to offer his seat.
At last I stppped to ask a man I met
to direct me to some sunny open place
where I might find a seat. Very kindly
an^ definitely he directed me to a quiet,
sunny nook, neither T raising his hat nor
removing his pipe as he did so. "Thank
you for your < courtesy/ -I said,/trying
to pur a double meaning Into my words
as my glance swept his hat and pipe.
"Oh, that's all right," he answered
cheerfully,/ as he '..went his.way.
//The/ standard sof politeness i you / set
for' yourselves is, naturally, the stan
; dard adopted by the foreigner who
comes to your shores. Consequently,
what do you find? Insolence! Your lack
iof politeness Intensified Iby imitation '
: becomes 1 insolence, with If no one but
yourselves to blame for It. When your
gorge rises at seeing four or five young
Japs strung out on the seat of a ferry
station while American women stand,
why do you talk about exclusion for all
Asiatics, and dilate upon the incident
of the Red Lacquer bridge? What of
courtesy do they see among ; vmi to emu
late? When we go down to Chinatown
to ; shop; and are /answered <In monosyl
lables by/the; Chinese, who turns i* his
back upon us, who is the responsible ;
one?,- A glance "backward to his sub
servience in his own country is all that
Is needed to remind us it our own
customs and standards he is imitating.
Now in all that I am saying let it be
distinctly understood that; it fis * merely
the spirit of your life against which I
am inveighing. lam glad to say I have
met with many instances of heart
|ed generosity along | with/ most glaring
rudeness.' It is simply that the spirit
of/ politeness among you is dead. The
T proof of my assertion lies; in/the f: fact
; that these flagrant instances/ of/ boor
ishness attract no special attention and
create no surprise. Nobody fis indig
nant when a man does something so
rude as to inflict discomfort on others.
Even the man who would not be guilty
of the same offense himself is not
aroused to protest by it. The spirit of |
common politeness, ,-, not to mention
courtesy, Is dead, and it is not the
changed; status \ of * woman; it is the
spirit of "hustle" that is responsible for
its passing. You are too busy, you
have-not time ; to be thoughtful and
gentle. You are catching a train, miss
ing a boat, keeping an appointment.
The great thing in your life is to "get
there,'' regardless of everything and
everybody^else/ You. have every
[tolp be proud of your activity and
achievement, but you have run it into
an ultra-independence; everybody, man
and woman alike, is for himself. Yes,
literally this fa an age of hustle that
precludes; Lbs stepping aside', to. do : the
little kindnesses or even', to see them.
Your western with all its won
derful accomplishment,* is still in the
crude state : of - development. 'Your .
= proudest boast lis-your/up to^datehess,"/
'but- with all that you are still in the \
raw. - •■ ;;;";'-:;; . /.-' '/ '.", '.-....
./ "Do you find the spirit;of politeness
in California is dead?" I/asked a state- /
ly woman of the passing generation.
"To my sorrow, yes." she answered; ;
"the truth of it is thrust upon me every
day/of my life. With my gray hair and
my widow's ..weeds lam: allowed to
stand in cars; men blow their tobacco/
smc^te/ in .my ; face: ,1 am by turns A
snubbed and patronized by shopgirls,/
shouted "at by the-drivers of delivery -
Wagons to get out of their way Instead.
of reining In their horses, the young *■
people of the coming generation,chew
gum/in "my/face as I talk to them,. and "
what I /deplore most of all is : that my /
own children are no better," Aha!' my
stately] friend, it is not; that your; chil- /.
dren are not gentle; by birth, nor that
they have not been .well brought up.
They 'do • not know \ themselves that \it
is the/spirit * of/; hustle, that I leaves :no
time nor;thought.for the gentle grace
of ..courtesy.. „/ •*..-. '•
; /."Do/you; find;the spirit l. of politeness %
dead?" I ; asked again of a sweet little ■;
woman whose charm is recognized: by,;
,every one who comes .within 4 radius
of her presence. "Dead?" "she repeated, *
,-•■•.-•.-.- , ■■■'■:•■ i ..;».--- ; '--: , .■■'•■' <; ; \--. ; -..
"I . had forgotten '-, it.: ever, lived.'' We
I were just then/waiting/for,; the elevator
in one of your, large downtown business
buildings. As the cage started upward
it was full of men. six/ or eight, all
/with/their hats on and; several 'of them
; smoking.// From/the/ first to the tenth
floor we * rode, 1 caged :: together/arid 'riot
one of ,'these —good, useful busi
;ness : men they looked— his hat
or^-ci gar/while; in that close proximity
to the ladies. Selfishness and hustle
had these men in i their grip. If there
! had been ian accident any one of /these
;boorish, ill • bred men would have put
himself out to any/ extent, Iv^ have :no
doubt, to do what ; he/ could for us/ The
heart of the western man Is in the
right place ' and its beats are true and
strong, but in order to see him at his
best we can not imperil our lives every
day, just ?to ; give ;him; a chance to show
„But not only; among the men of;your
coast is the lack of politeness glaringly
apparent. Where do you find the grace
ful little courtesies among the women
| that was once the stamp of quality?
-De you ever see ■ in yoifr homes/that
deference/that was once "accorded/to
your elders? When grandmother en
ters the room does any one spring to
hold the door for her or offer her a
seat or remain standing as long as she;
stands? When graridmother, standing,
speaks -to; Dorothy, does Dorothy rise
and answer as 'her mother was taught
to do? Or does/she merely mitigate her
sprawl -sufficiently/ to grunt "i her ,"TJm
humph" without raising her eyes from
her .book?/ .r
When Kenneth meets you ■on the
street'does he; raise: his hat as. if ;he
knew why. and to whom lie does so arid
stand; uncovered as long as you -are
willing 'to stand and speak to him?
Or. does he snatch ] his hat a little lower
over his eye, in:lieu of a salute, calling
something over his shoulder to. you .as
he* hustles /along?:/ Yet;, Kenneth,, poor
fellow, does;not know he is a cad;and
a boor arid; an oaf.. His father shows
no courtesy to .those at home and at
the office treats his stenographer/ no
worsebut, alas, no better than lie
treats his.wife. Because/ he sits with'
his feet in; the "air and dictates between
puffs to the refined little woman in.his
employ does hot ; mean he does not: hold
her in the highest .•' respect. .It simply
means that he is underbred without
knowing it or meaning to be. ~
; There seems no grade of society :in
your town /where/the "silent _ witness
of //the ' absence" .of politeness is* riot
glaringly to/the" fore. Among high and
low, rich/and poor, »the; gentle art/of
courtesy hustled to the background.
For' Instance, Jack phones to-ask Ethel
to:go/to the >, theater. '.'All right," says
Ethel,/"just leave my ticket at the box
office \ and ': I'll; get arounrt soon as I
can." Jack is;a/good follow/and Ethel
a nice girl. They ; have a' pleasant even
ing, perhaps go arid:have something to
eat after the;: theater. Then, as "Jack
lives in the Mission and Ethel in: Union
street,/ he puts her on her/car at th-i
corner, says v "goodnight" and ,■',. "good
bye" arid.'off he/goes to catch- his own
carhis duty done,/
IWhat ■ have you to infer from '■■ this re
sume of existing conditions, you peo
ple/of; San Francisco? ; "The politeneaa.
is she deadr/ The preponderance of
evidence leaves - but "- one answer, - Th*
.world/) is kind, the world /is/ philan
thropic, the world, we insist, is good.
But the politeness, she is undoubt*-^
dead. ■ .'■ ,P ■ •
/As we have lived past /the day/of
Jeweled J snuffboxes, kneebuckles. lace
frills and powdered wigs, we shall also
endure, despite the death of gallantry.
We shall have liberty and equality in
stead/of/ noblesse -<oblige/;/ As long as
"the jingle of / the guinea helps the
hurt that honor feels" we shall/have
the spirit of hustle instead of our dear,
dead /old/school;/ of /politeness. But
down In your „- heart;/you; man i and ' you
woman of the present > moment,/; v.i
know it is you who have brought about
the changed conditions. So hustle
along ;in '-« your boasted up-to-da»eness
and good luck to you as you f;

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