Return to Content

Decode the Meaning of Handkerchief Flirtations

Decode the Meaning of Handkerchief Flirtations
0 votes, 0.00 avg. rating (0% score)
Print Friendly

My great-grandmother was born just before the start of the Civil War and so spent her teens in the postwar decade. Courtship was much more ritualistic in those days, and while I hate to think of my grandma as a flirt, I’ve seen photographs of her as a young girl, and there was a definite twinkle in those eyes beneath the long brown curls.

Among her belongings was a notebook containing full instructions on how to use a handkerchief to send myriad signals to a hopeful suitor.

For those who might like to recall how a “nice” girl could meet a “nice” boy, here are Grandma Libby’s Handkerchief Flirtations.

Drawing across the lips: I am desirous of an acquaintance.
Drawing across the eyes: I am sorry.
Drawing across the cheek: I love you.
Drawing across the forehead: We are watched.
Drawing through the hands: I hate you.
Dropping: We will be friends.
Folding: I wish to speak with you.
Letting it rest on the right cheek: Yes.
Letting it rest on the left cheek: No.
Letting it remain on the eyes: You are cruel.
Opposite corners in both hands: Wait for me.
Over the shoulder: Follow me.
Placing it on the right ear: You have changed.
Taking it in the center: You are too willing.
Twirling in both hands: Indifference.
Twirling in left hand: I wish to be rid of you.
Twirling in right hand: I love another.
Twirling around forefinger: I am engaged.
Twirling around third finger: I am married.
Flirting at your side once: You’re a flirt.
Flirting at your side three times: Go to the Devil.
Flirting over the head: Go to thunder.
Putting in the pocket: No more at present.

It was an intricately subtle language. Pity the poor chap who didn’t know how to decode it.

Excerpt from “Grandma Libby’s Handkerchief Flirtations,” Yankee Magazine, February 1987

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Give the Gift of Yankee Magazine and get a Gift in Return!

Send a one-year gift subscription of Yankee Magazine for only $17.99 a 50% savings. In return we will send you a free 2016 Scenes of New England Calendar (a $9.95 value)!


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

We reserve the right to remove or edit comments that are offensive or disrespectful to our readers and/or writers, cannot be verified, lack clarity, or contain profanity. Your comments may be republished by Yankee Magazine across multiple platforms.

Register Sign In

©2015, Yankee Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Yankee Publishing Inc., | P.O. Box 520, Dublin, NH 03444 | (603) 563-8111

< Prev

North Bennet Street School | Local Treasure

YK0312_021.jpgThe power-tool room at the North Bennet Street School is cramped, to say the least. ...

Related Articles

Next >

Maple Season in New England

A sure sign of spring: "sugaring off" in Vermont. Maple sap is boiled down in stages in an "evaporator" -- a series of rectangular metal pans over a wood or oil fire -- producing prodigious quantities of steam along the way. It takes 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup, which is around 67% sugar. High pressure had drifted over central Vermont, and with it temperatures had climbed steadily from ...

Related Articles