COLUMBIA, S.C. — They say hospitality is the Southern way, and once again Charleston tops the nation’s most mannerly cities list released Friday by etiquette expert Marjabelle Young Stewart.
“Charleston is the role model for the rest of the country,” said Stewart from her home in Kewanee, Ill. “One woman said, ‘I make sure I visit there once a year to see a gentleman in action. All I have to say to my husband is, ‘Oh, I miss Charleston,’ and he’ll put down his paper down.”
Charleston, which has a reputation of hospitality, kindness and politeness, has been on the list all 24 years and has topped it seven times, including last year.
Stewart, author of “Common Sense Etiquette,” bases her list on thousands of letters and faxes, many of which come from executives and others who have taken her etiquette courses in the United States and abroad.
The Quad Cities area of Iowa and Illinois was second. Milwaukee was third, and though it is more known for being gaudy and raucous, Las Vegas was fourth. Stewart said visitors told her they noticed the hospitality hotels in that city showed toward their children.
“More families said they were making an effort to welcome them and show great respect to their children,” she said.
“It’s a good happy, place to be welcomed.”
Savannah, Ga., last year’s runner-up, was seventh this year.
John Graham Altman, a Republican who represents Charleston in the South Carolina House, said he wasn’t surprise the city was atop the list again.
“It’s a whole Southern custom to be polite to folks, even though you disagree with them. It doesn’t cost anything to say please, excuse me and thank you,” he said. “There are so many bad manners in the world. If we can be an oasis of decent manners, so be it.”
Stewart said five people told her they wanted to move to the Quad Cities of Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, and Moline and Rock Island, Ill.
The cities have “instructed taxi drivers how to greet guests and make guests feel welcomed,” Stewart said, noting that those who wrote her “loved to do business there.”
Seattle ranked sixth, though a few visitors said people there had bad cellular telephone manners.
“People looked like aliens,” Stewart said, quoting one writer. “They have terrible timing. They took over my space, even while walking.”
But Stewart said all cities on the list should show pride for their efforts.
“Tell each of these cities, to take a bow. No, tell their mothers to take a bow,” quoting Stewart from one letter-writer. “They raised some really nice people.”