My father-in-law, who is 73, has what his family consider a strange quirk: he will not abide the presence of anything in the glove compartment of his car except maps, gloves, sunglasses, and the car’s registration. They’re even stacked in a specific order. When shE. Thorp and her sister were children, their mother would put tissues in the glove compartment, in case of ice cream spilled in the back seat; but on the next car trip the tissues would be gone; Dad would have thrown them out. This happened many times. Apparently, tissues in the glove compartment = unacceptable.
He has never explained this, being a fairly reticent and conservative man of his generation. My wife, like her mother, has always been baffled by the tissue–glove compartment issue, and has mentioned it often (“Why does he do that?”). Maybe he has OCD, but what I’m wondering is whether his age and station contribute to his behavior. He was born in 1931 and raised upper-middle-class in a small town in Pennsylvania, and he has practiced law in the same small office in his hometown for over 40 years. His political opinions are very liberal, but everything else about him is very conservative.
Through my own movie-shaped lens on his generation, I imagine him learning from his father: “Always shave with a real blade, son, not those newfangled electric razors; never wear brown shoes with a black suit; you’re not dressed without a handkerchief in your pocket; men’s wristwatches should have leather bands, not metal; and glove compartments are for maps, gloves, sunglasses, and registration. [This above all: to thine own self be true, etc.]”
Were any Dopers taught similar “rules” as young men in the 40s or 50s, or does anyone know of histories recounting such “how to be a man” All-American trivia passed from fathers to sons? (My own father is not from America, so the man-to-man trivia he kindly shared with me varies a bit.)
In fact, I don’t seriously expect an answer to the tissues question, but I’d like to know how, around 50 years ago in the middle classes or so, a man was taught to be a man, or a “gentlemen.”