Saturday, January 9, 2016

New Book of Manners for Children


The Life of Betty Graber 
Seen Through Her 
Daughter-in-Law’s Eyes
Betty, at 9 or 10 years old. It's the age she'll be in the next book, which jumps ahead in time 4 years. Pictured above, circa 1926, with Betty are her brother, Jeremiah, known as "Jack" in the book, Betty's grandmother, Mrs. William Martin, and Betty's older brother Bill.


Betty at 5 or 6 years old, in 1922, the year in which the current book is set, beside one of the book illustrations, by artist Christie Shinn.




Maura's daughter Katherine, and granddaughter Marina, enjoying the new book.
Mary “Betty” Graber loved the Inland Valley community where she grew up, raised a family and spent years involved in promoting its culture and history.

The late Graber family matriarch grew up when women gathered for tea, went to classes to learn to speak eloquently and kept/delivered calling cards. She was a member of the Chaffey Community Art Association, the Soroptimist Club and the Shakespeare Club. 

The only photo Maura has been able to find of Betty with a cat... The Graber family, circa 1955
Now, through the efforts of her daughter-in-law, Maura Graber, some stories from her past can help children learn about themselves, their actions and how they affect others. Maura Graber, has written “The Wallflowers and Wildflowers Learn Manners,” which is based on the late Betty Graber’s childhood in 1922 San Dimas. 

The book, which is the first in an expected series, teaches youngsters important social skills and manners through the eyes of the young Betty and her pets. Maura Graber, who has long taught etiquette lessons to the young and old, said researching the books also helped add even more stories to the family’s history. The family started the historic Graber Olive House in Ontario in 1894 and continues today.
Rags, a family dog, plays a big role in the etiquette books.
In fact, that’s where Graber and book artist Christie Shinn recently conducted a book signing. “I think that Betty would’ve been tickled by the book,” said Graber, especially since Betty was a devoted patron of the local arts scene. Friends of the family stopped by as did Petrina Delman of Ontario Heritage, who bought a book for herself and one for the nonprofit.

The next book, too, is set in San Dimas and will involve tea and tea-room etiquette while continuing the storyline. Betty grew up in the Martin House in that city. The house today is an historical building and home to the San Dimas Chamber of Commerce. “Tea rooms were so fashionable in the 1920s, Men fashionably drank tea in San Francisco and there were French, Scottish, British and even American tea rooms,” she said. “It’s pretty crazy, as I’m not that big of a fan of tea. Seeing as it’s basically a buffet with tea, coffee and possibly hot chocolate or lemonade, if done according to proper etiquette, it’s simply a buffet with a beverage. Americans have romanticized it to an odd point. I have never figured that out." 
A favorite photo of Maura's and husband Cliff, is this of Betty's older brother, Bill. It was taken in San Dimas in 1922.
She can see where it may have seemed exotic in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Russian tearooms with their glistening samovars had been very popular until the overthrow of the czar and murder of his family. After that, they fell out of fashion and British-style tearooms came into popularity. And it really wasn’t until the Edwardian era, and then into the 1920s, that women could go out to restaurants unchaperoned. “So I have a lot to work with regarding history, along with the story of Betty and the pets,” she said.

Book three will take the story back to the animals again, while tackling the issues of bullying and homelessness.                                     
Another favorite photo is this 1907, Edwardian Era shot of Betty's mother, Ruth, and a college chum, in "Zaferia" California. Zaferia later became "East Long Beach" California

Her research produced stacks of photos and family albums which were used in the book as well as some displayed at the book signing. “We even have a scrapbook that Bill kept (Betty’s older brother) that was from Bonita High School in the 1930s. They are really just wonderful.”      
Betty’s son and Maura’s husband, Cliff said, “The Wallflowers and Wildflowers Learn Manners” tells the story of his mother, her cats and their floral names. “It was so creative, the names, along with the fact that indoor cats were a rarity in that era,” he said.
                                                                           
Over 50 of the old photos were shown at the recent book signing and photo event at the Graber Olive House. The photos ranged from the late 1800s to the 1920s were from a variety of Inland Empire and Southern California communities; San Dimas, San Dimas Canyon, Zaferia (East Long Beach), Bay City (now Seal Beach), Balboa and Newport Beaches, Pomona, Mt. Baldy and "Camp Baldy." Betty's childhood was discussed, and nods to her adult life were brought up as well. In the book, the cow in the Martin House barn is named "Shakespeare," in honor of Betty's fondness for, and friends from, the popular local club.

Cliff and Maura heard the story just two weeks before Betty died in 2014 at the age of 98. “Maura and I were taken by surprise by her story, as Betty wasn’t really ever what one would call a 'pet person' and she had never told me about the cats when I was growing up.”

The “wallflowers and wildflowers” idea for the story was along the lines of the “The Prince and the Pauper” or of the country mouse and the city mouse, and the challenges of changing places for a day. “Maura is always looking for ways to get kids interested in manners and this story just sort of clicked with her,” Cliff said.

“The Wallflowers and Wildflowers Learn Manners” is $12.95 and available at the Graber Olive House and Amazon.com



The original article was written by  Suzanne Sproul, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

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