Maybe you think etiquette died in the '60s, drowned in a sea of tie-dye. Well, think again. Peggy Post says Americans still crave etiquette.

In greater numbers than ever, we are seeking civility, she says. The more of us there are, and the closer we all have to live to each other, and the faster we are all rushing around - the more we long for a considerate society.Peggy Post is the great-granddaughter-in-law of Emily Post. She took over the family's etiquette business in 1991. She received it from her mother-in-law, Elizabeth Post, who took over from the original etiquette maven, after Emily's death in 1960.

Perhaps it would be crass to speculate on just how lucrative the etiquette business might be. Suffice it say this: Peggy Post is the head of something called the Emily Post Institute, an organization dedicated to keeping the name of Emily Post alive - which is accomplished mainly by having Peggy Post travel the country, speaking at bridal fairs.

In addition, Post has a monthly column in Good Housekeeping. And she just published the 16th edition of the book "Emily Post's Etiquette."

The first Post etiquette book - "Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage" - came out 75 years ago. This anniversary edition is an 845-page hardback that sells for $35. It contains all the old standby advice - on how to set a formal table, for instance - as well as advice on how to handle the complexities of the '90s, such as call-waiting and cyberspace courtesies.

If you thought you pretty much understood etiquette, a glance through this new volume might make you change your mind. While some rules will never change (it is always polite to offer a pregnant woman a seat on the bus), others are constantly evolving.

For example, says Post, "When I was first starting this work with my mother-in-law, doing bridal events in 1991, I was going by the old-fashioned guideline that second-time brides could not wear white. I began to think about it. It's become a custom. They do it anyway. So I give it my blessing - so long as she doesn't try to look overly frilly."

Post spoke with the Deseret News in a conference call of reporters, one of a series of interviews to promote the book. Her voice, on the phone, sounded refined and slightly Southern.

She's not stuffy. Yet you can tell by reading her book that she's leans toward the saintly. Peggy Post doesn't believe in gossip. Or losing your temper in public. Or ceasing to speak to someone just because they aren't speaking to you.

Reporters asked Post to talk about the decline in modern manners. She agreed there is a decline. In busy modern families, parents have too little time with their children. They don't want to spend it harping about manners.

In the olden days, when families ate dinner together every night, manners were taught by example as well as by lecture. Said Post, "I'm a real advocate of trying to have a family meal at least a couple of times a week." She cited other reasons for the decline in manners: violence and profanity on television.

Fortunately, though, says Post, the etiquette pendulum is swinging back. "There is an increased interest in teaching children the basics. There are classes going on. It's good news."

In the book, Post describes a social faux pas of her own. She was at a party talking on and on about her new puppy. Later (when they were alone, one hopes), her mother-in-law gently told her that people who had puppies already knew everything she had to say on the subject and people who didn't have puppies probably weren't interested.

Peggy Post says she was thankful to have received the advice.

Still. The reporters had to wonder. One reporter asked her what it was really like to marry into the Post family, as well as to inherit the role of social arbitrator.

Post said, "When I met my husband (Allen) almost 20 years ago, I didn't even know his last name had anything to do with Emily Post. When I found out . . . it seemed fine. He was such a non-formal kind of person, natural and down-to-earth, but very considerate."

Meeting his parents wasn't scary, either. A lot of women might feel uncomfortable dining with the Posts for the first time. But Allen Post's parents put her at ease. (The point of good manners is to put people at ease, Post reminds her interviewers throughout the conversation.)

Though she never met Allen's grandmother Emily, Peggy Post seems to respect her. "She was actually quite a modern woman. She was actually a divorced woman. She had two sons in school and she wanted to augment her income by writing. She'd been writing some romantic (magazine) stories and books."

Post says Emily was approached by an editor who said, "We really need a reference book on etiquette." Emily demurred, then agreed. She said it would be a short book. Post says, "Well, it turned out to be just under 700 pages. She researched the book for a year."

Emily Price Post came from an upper-class home. Born in Baltimore in 1873, she was the daughter of well-known architect, Bruce Price. She married Edwin Post, in 1890 in New York at Tuxedo Park - which her father had designed.

She wrote "Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage" when she was 51. In 1929, when she was 58, she went on the radio. Her program was sponsored by General Electric. By 1940, her "Social Problems" newspaper column ran in 150 newspapers. By 1946, her etiquette book was selling 5,600 copies per week.

By the time she died in 1960, "Etiquette" was in its 89th printing. By then her grandson William had married Elizabeth Lindley and Elizabeth took over the business.

For Peggy Post, job satisfaction comes from helping people solve the dilemmas in their lives. Her theme is to avoid conflict, to be pleasant but firm, to keep on being pleasant even when those around her are being rude.

She gets asked more questions about weddings than about anything else, she says. Weddings involving divorced parents. Weddings involving children from the previous marriage. What has traditionally been a pretty emotional event can become even more complicated and emotional these days.

Post tries to cover all the specifics - of weddings, as well as personal and corporate conduct - in her 845-page book, she says. And in her columns. But if readers find themselves faced with a dilemma she doesn't address, Post suggests doing what she does.

When trying to figure out the best way to act in an ever-changing society, she first asks the experts. Second, she consults with people who have been in similar situations before. Finally, realizing that many situations aren't going to be clear-cut, she tries to come up with an answer that is the least hurtful to the greatest number of people.

On the telephone and in her book, Peggy Post answers common-sense kinds of questions:

Question: If you are invited to two baby showers for a co-worker but can't go to either one, should you send one present or two?

Answer: You don't have to send any present if you can't be there. If you feel close to the woman, you may want to send a present. If she is a dear friend, you might want to send two. It's up to you.

Question: What should you do in a restaurant when the children at the next table are disturbing and their parents don't seem to notice?

Answer: Talk discreetly to the waiter or the manager. Let them talk to the parents. Says Post, "Don't cause a scene. . . . It is better to do it this way vs. getting into a confrontation with the parents directly."

Question: What advice can you give a family in which there has been a bitter divorce? Now that it comes time to plan their daughter's wedding, it seems the father (who is going to be paying for most of it) doesn't want his ex-wife involved.

Answer: The bride should be able to have the kind of wedding she wants. She no doubt wants both her parents there. Consider getting a third party involved, perhaps someone from the clergy, or a wedding consultant.

Question: We want to acknowledge our Islamic neighbors on their holy days. What should we say?

Answer: During Ramadan, you may greet them by saying, "May God give you a blessed month." For Id al-Fitr or Id ul-Adha you could say, "May God make it a blessed feast." There are no greetings for al-Isra Wal Miraj, the holiday of the Night Journey, and the Ascension, commemorating the night the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have traveled to the heavens.

Question: What is the polite way to resign?

Answer: Notify your employer as soon as you've decided on the day you will leave. Either talk to your boss or write a letter expressing appreciation for the help and opportunities you've had. Before you leave, say goodbye to all those you've worked with. Don't try to use the other job as a way to manipulate your boss into giving you a raise. Don't complain about your former boss to your new employer. Don't brag about your new job to your co-workers. Don't let down on the job because you are leaving. Don't tell company secrets after you leave or speak against the company you are leaving.