Those Were The Days

Ladies, eliminate your “New Yorkese”: Prim and proper advice from a 1940s elocution teacher

Seventy-five years ago today (September 23 1939), this advertisement ran in the New Yorker:  

Well, that simply won’t do!  So I decided to look into Miss Margaret McCoy and found an illuminating article from a 1942 column in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle — “Beauty and You” by Patricia Lindsay.  In this piece, McCoy provides advice for young woman wishing to find more confidence in their personal presentation. Some of her sage observations:

— “Women don’t realize that through misuse of their voice they reveal a nervous, erratic and unstable temperament.”

—  “The swallowed tones heard so frequently today among the younger generation disclose affectations of superiority and insincerity.

— “Good speech is speech that does not attract attention to itself. It is not affected, pedantic or theatrical.”

—  “If, while you speak, your listeners are attracted to how you sound rather than what you say, your message is not being delivered.  Muffled, indistinct speech, due to careless sloppy habits, or speech which has a foreign or provincial flavor is incapable of conveying an idea.”

Margaret’s school was still offering advice in the 1940s but I can’t find reference to it after that. She may be the very same Margaret McCoy who broadcast pleasantries on WNYC in 1935.

The McCoy School of Speech was located near Grand Central Terminal for better access to nervous, erratic or unstable individuals.

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