by Amy Janowiecki
Jeffrey Hatcher, creator of the comedic play Mrs. Mannerly, reveals memories of his life in Steubenville, Ohio, and how the 1967 manners class came to life on stage:
Q: What inspired you to create Mrs. Mannerly?
A: I took a manners class that was very similar to, if not exactly life, the one described in [Mrs. Mannerly]. We even had a ‘class photo’ take of us –little boys in white jackets, black bow-ties, black shorts and saddle shoes; girls in frilly dresses.
Q: What is your fondest memory about growing up in Steubenville?
A: Setting the play in my hometown of Steubenville, I remember going to the old movie palaces from back in the day—the Paramount, the Grand, the Capital. They were built in the 1920s and 1930s, but I knew them in the 1960s, when decay had started to set in, but they were still gorgeous. I remember seeing Goldfinger at the Capital and thinking the name of the star (Sean Connery) was pronounced “Seen Canary”.
Q: What do you believe is the most important manner a person should practice?
A: I have learned when a dinner companion offers to pay the bill, say ‘no’ twice, then take it. My mother told that, and it’s saved me thousands of dollars.
Q: What do you believe is the worst form of etiquette people practice?
A: The most aggravating form of bad manners is when some stranger doesn’t thank me after he’s asked for directions or the time and I’ve kindly stopped to answer him. I’m not Mr. Information.
Q: In your personal experience, how do you think people will view the importance of manners and etiquette 10 years from now?
A: Ten years from now, I think people will view the importance of manners and etiquette less than we do now. I would trade most of the technical rules—how to fold your napkin, which fork to use when—for ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.”