Mr. Benjamin, I think it’s a wonderful service that you provide to the community. As I get older and ponder the ills of society, I have come to realize the importance of teaching our children manners, respect, and as you say, “thoughtfulness for others”. I truly believe that many of the problems in our world stem from a departure from these basic principles. With your teaching, and our reinforcement as parents, my hope is that our children become examples of proper behavior and serve as seeds in the community to spread social propriety Regards, Mr. TO
Dear Mr. Benjamin, Thank you for a great series of classes. My son’s social confidence improved dramatically. Your style of teaching is a wonderful match with this age group. I appreciate your clear expectations dosed with lots of humor putting the students at ease. I plan to enroll my younger son when he is in sixth grade. Sincerely, K
Dear Mr. Benjamin, It has been our pleasure to have our son attend your class. I believe D has learned a good deal about the proper etiquette and manners associated with circumstances of life, now and in the future. Thanks so much, Mr. and Mrs. S
Dear Mr. Benjamin, I wanted to thank you for another wonderful year! My daughter thoroughly enjoyed your program two years ago, and now my son J has loved it. I must admit, my son was upset when I told him I had signed him up for Junior Assembly, but he has been a fan since the first session. He absolutely looked forward to each and every class It is nice that you have kept up this wonderful tradition. As a parent, it is wonderful to have an “outsider” reinforce the manners and etiquette I try so hard to instill. And, you teach some things that I don’t always think to mention. I have one more son, so I hope to be back with him in three years. Thanks again. Sincerely, Mrs. EK
Dear Mr. Benjamin, Thank you for all you have done for these kids. I enjoy going as much as my daughter does. I love how you handle this age group. Thanks again for continuing this wonderful tradition. I can’t wait for my younger daughter to have her turn. Keep up the great work, you are amazing! Thank you, Mrs. SH
Dear Mr. Benjamin,
P has enjoyed this greatly and we congratulate you for your efforts. As you know, our other son, A, has fond memories of the times he took your lessions. I will, of course, be there like always on Wednesday. All the the children have undoubtedly been reinforced by the valuable lessons you are teaching them. Kudos!
Thank you, C
Dear Mr. Benjamin,
Thank you so much for the wonderful classes. My son, C, enjoyed every minute of them and learned a great deal. What a terrific experience!
With sincerest appreciation, Mrs. HL
Dear Mr. Benjamin,
I am so pleased with the Junior Cotillion program. My son was not hot on the idea, but after the first class he loved it. He now tells me he enjoys talking to the girls and dancing. This program is teaching him how to be a proper young man around the ladies. The dressing in business attire is the best. He loves the ensemble, especially the shoes.
You are amazing with the kids. I have known many of them since kindergarten and I never would have guessed someone could control and organize all of them so well. I feel this training is something that is slipping in society today and your offering it to the kids is priceless. I would recommend Mr. Benjamin’s Cotillion to ALL kids, as well as some adults I know. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity. It has been our pleasure.
Sincerely, Mrs. AK
Dear Mr. Benjamin,
J and I have absolutely loved your Scripps Ranch class. I try to reinforce all the lessons learned, every chance I get. Although she is at an age where she is amenable to inculcating etiquette into her daily life, your presentation and explanations have made my job, as a single parent, much easier.
Thank you, sincerely. Ms. LJ
Dear Mr. Benjamin,
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your Junior Cotillion classes. Although we missed your first night, our son was able to catch up with the brief review you provided the second evening.
Our son M, who is in sixth grade of course, and an only child, is very shy around girls. I was TRULY amazed as I watched a transformation occur while hiding behind some other parents during our first session. I instantly realized that this venue provided an opportunity for M to grow in a way that he just would not get any other way!
As you had them brainstorm the many topics of conversation they could engage in while dancing, I could see M relax and for the first time, maintain a conversation many minutes in length with his partner. His confidence has already been boosted!
We’re looking forward to the continuing journey as he develops the social graces and poise written about in your newspaper article as well as on your website.
This is a rare and very valuable experience. Thank you so much for providing these very useful and important life lessons in a very comfortable setting.
Sincerely, Mrs. PC
I’d better throw my hat in the ring and affirm that the lessons I learned at Mr. Benjamin’s forty years ago are lessons still worth knowing. When seated at a large dinner party, committee meeting, or professional banquet, I always wait until the woman seated to my right picks up her fork before I begin eating.
Going from San Diego to an Ivy League college, I was exposed to classmates from fancy prep schools. Some of my classmates had parents who were famous celebrities. Never once was I unsure of myself of how to act among cultured people, thanks to the training I received from Mr. Benjamin. I remember he once said, “When you have completed this course (the junior high version), you will be able to board an ocean liner with the Queen of England on board and not have to worry about knowing what to do in her presence.”
The lessons I learned at cotillion will serve for a lifetime.
Jim Sperber, MD
San Juan Capistrano, CA
Fifty years since Mr. Benjamin taught me the bossa nova! How can that be? “Don,” as we called him in those long-ago days in Del Mar, offered an adult class, first at the Rock House and then at Cardiff’s Beacon Inn.
As newcomers to the area and avid dancers, my husband and I joined. Leaving baby sitters and kids at home, we all made many new friends, especially Don and (his wife) Ellie. Don polished up our traditional ballroom moves and introduced the steps and sway of the latest rhythms. Ahh, “Appleblossom White.” I look back fondly at those Tuesday evenings and continue to offer thanks to Mr. Benjamin.
You may be happy to know that I have been on myriad dates, danced, served as best man at my best friend’s wedding, given toasts to large reception halls, and am well known for my thank-you notes and prompt RSVPs. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the mileage one can get from formal etiquette. If your current denizens of Generation Y do even a tenth of what you and your dad tell them to do, people will be blown away.
Keep up the good work. The elegance and class that you lend your sixth graders will stay with them longer than you can know.
MD/MS candidate (2006)
Medical College of Ohio, Toledo
Re: “Mr. Manners: Donald Benjamin has been getting kids off on the right foot for 50 years.” (Jane Clifford, Feb. 21):
Your article brought many memories from my youth. I too, was conscripted in Mr. Benjamin’s dance classes, held in Balboa Park. I’m soon to be 58 this year, and these memories of 45-plus years ago have not faded. My late mother and father had this idea that I was in need of some polishing and learning of social graces. I, on the other hand, disagreed with them both . . . they won.
Prior to my entering Mr. Benjamin’s class, I spent almost a year attending dance lessons and “behavior modification” with Gladys Bowen, at her dance studio in Point Loma.
As much as I hated dressing up in slacks, white shirt and tie, not to mention the “hard shoes” I had to wear, I did, in fact, learn many of the skills my parents could not make me understand. To this day, I walk on the outside of my wife when walking on the street, I open her car door after 25-plus years of marriage . . . and I’m still a pretty damn good dancer.
So thank you both, Donald and Gladys. A special thank you to my parents, who both knew I needed outside guidance and help.