Geneva club to host etiquette classes for teens

  • Patricia Ray, center, works with her students at a previous etiquette class for children in Naperville. Ray, who lives near Yorkville, will be teaching a similar class in Geneva starting in January.

    Patricia Ray, center, works with her students at a previous etiquette class for children in Naperville. Ray, who lives near Yorkville, will be teaching a similar class in Geneva starting in January. Daily Herald File Photo, 2010

Posted11/30/2017 9:30 AM

For as many years as most Geneva youths could remember -- about 45 years, to be exact -- Edith Gibson taught them proper etiquette, social skills and dance steps.

It was called the "Fortnightlies," and hundreds, if not thousands, of children in grades six through nine learned proper manners and such things as the waltz, fox trot, swing and cha-cha in sessions at the Geneva Golf Club.


And then the late Cora Ann Reynolds, who worked with Gibson for a short time, took over the classes in 1995 and taught them up to about 2003.

Enter Patricia Ray, herself a longtime dance and etiquette instructor throughout the Fox Valley. Ray has been teaching the life skills of Fortnightly for nearly 14 years now.

And, yes, things have changed a bit in terms of being able to fit this type of social interaction education into a student's regular school, music or athletics schedules.

"Kids are a lot busier now than they used to be," said Ray, a resident of Bristol who also has been teaching adult ballroom dancing at Waubonsee Community College since 1980.

Ray dropped her school location site in 1993, deciding at that time to make it more "mobile." That meant rather than having her own location in Aurora, she would teach at various locations, with an emphasis on spots in Naperville.

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But one location she was willing to travel to ended up being the Fortnightly Assemblies at Geneva Golf Club.

"I was at Delnor Hospital for a medical test, and they knew who I was and mentioned that I should teach at the Geneva Golf Club," Ray said. "Edith Gibson was no longer doing it, and Cora Reynolds had just passed away, so I looked into it and ended up following in their footsteps."

Ballroom dancing is a small part of the class, Ray said. Because of social media, growing awareness of harassment and the unsettled political climate, she feels manners and learning how to interact with and respect other people is vital.

"The parents are trying to do the right things, but sometimes the kids won't listen to their parents, but will if they hear it from someone else," Ray said. "I teach them how to interact with their parents and other kids, and not to bully.

"It's about everything regarding family life, and also being aware of the news in the world," Ray added.

Registration is underway for the six-week program that is held from 6:45 to 8 p.m. Mondays, Jan. 15 through Feb. 19, at Geneva Golf Club. At the end of the program, students dine at an area restaurant where they can practice their dining skills.


Registration cost of $105 includes the classes and dinner. Deadline is Jan. 12. To register or obtain more information, contact Ray at (630) 553-5311.

I remember classes like this well, having attended them as a youngster in Chicago and later in Naperville. So, this was my key question: Do the kids still wear white gloves?

"I wanted to do the gloves, but some parents didn't want it," Ray said.

Maybe the gloves give it a somewhat old-fashioned feel? But they served a purpose for decades.

"Some boys don't like touching a girl's hand or their back at that young age," Ray said. "It is sometimes funny to watch their reactions to that."

For those kids:

Jim Wheeler certainly had my phone number on speed dial at this time of year. From 1983 until his passing in 2014, Wheeler would always call to remind me his Pottawatomie Golf Course pro shop was a key drop-off spot for his Toys for Kids program for the Salvation Army.

The program remains alive and is named in his honor as the Tri-Cities Jim Wheeler Toys for Kids Program.

It's time to drop off new toys or donations at various places through Sunday, Dec. 10.

Those looking to help can find the toys wish list on the website. Of course, you'll see things like Pokemon, sports team gear, Hot Wheels, Star Wars, Disney Princess, jewelry, books, paint sets … you know, the things that have been making kids happy for generations.

In addition to the golf course, drop-off sites include Blue Goose, Dick Pond Athletics, Geneva High School, Hossana! Lutheran Church, St. Charles Public Library, St. Charles City Hall, Drs. Mason, Faith and Brammeier, D.D.S, Pottawatomie Community Center, Baker Community Center, Inland Bank, Norris Recreation Center, and all St. Charles schools.

Shopping missteps:

Here's what happens when you go out Christmas shopping and combine that with the fact you work from home and, thus, don't need much in terms of new clothes:

"I could use a raincoat this year," I said.

"What for?" my wife asked. "You don't go out in the rain."

"Oh, that's right," I answered.

However, this can also happen:

"You need a new winter coat," my wife said.

"Really?" I asked. "Why is that?"

"Because your coat is getting ratty looking," she answered.

"What does that even mean?" I asked.

"Well, just look at it," she said.

So, it seems, Santa might be bringing me a new winter coat.

Reasoning behind gift:

Batavia author Daniel Van Haften has shown a keen interest in the science of deductive reasoning. So much so, that he co-authored "Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason" to inform readers of how Lincoln, when putting together his persuasive speeches, used the same elements of deductive literacy used in mathematics and attributed to ancient Greek Euclid.

Yes, it is fairly deep stuff compared to just shrugging your shoulders over some outlandish stream of tweets becoming increasingly common in today's fractured political world.

But Van Haften fully understands the importance of structured reasoning, to the point where the 1970 graduate of Michigan State University has donated a $1 million gift to the university's math department to create a faculty position in deductive literacy.

"Mathematics is important to teaching people how to think logically," Van Haften said. "A faculty position devoted to deductive literacy will raise awareness throughout MSU and help influence logical thinking in many disciplines. I am happy to play a part in helping MSU to lead in this area."

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