2009-02-12 / Letters

Remembering Valentine's Days Past

To The Editor:

Sitting in my recliner in my retirement home, thinking about my memories of Valentine's Day 75 to 80 years ago. I was a school girl going to a small one-room country schoolhouse in Iowa. We got excited about Valentine's Day. The teacher always made a valentine box for us children to put our homemade valentines in for our classmates. Every year in January, through the mail, came a new wallpaper sample catalog to order new wallpaper. We children waited for its arrival because we could have the old catalog. From it we made our valentines.

We folded a sheet of wallpaper over and drew a heart on it. then cut two sides, left top side doubled, cut a "V" in the middle of the top and cut a little door in the front piece. You could open it and look inside. Then we would write a little verse inside that door.

Oh, the excitement! Girls waiting to see how many valentines each got from the boys. We wrote on the back of the valentines who each was for and from whom it was sent. The boys made an ugly face when the teacher handed them a valentine from the box if it was from a girl they didn't like. We girls watched when a boy got our valentine to see what kind of face that boy would make.

We were always anxious to see who made the prettiest valentine. They were all homemade. The boys made theirs, too. No family had a penny extra to spend on a valentine.

Every year, as soon as I walked home and went in the house, my mother asked the very same question - How many valentines did you get from the boys? I still don't know why she asked the same question.

Another thing I could never understand back then was that I was a popular, rough baseball player. When boys chose up sides for their baseball team, I always was one of the first ones picked. The boys wanted me on their team. I would slide sacrifice on a team to help win many baseball games. But on Valentine's Day, I thought I should have gotten the prettiest valentines from the boys, but I usually got the ugly ones. The boys gave the prettiest valentines to a small girl who always sat in the shade with her doll, sewing doll clothes. She had shiny Shirley Temple curls. This girl never liked baseball. I knew all us girls wore the same long, homemade dresses, sewed from dyed seed and feed bags. Our underskirts were made from flour bags and sugar sacks. We had long cotton stockings and high-laced shoes. But that girl got the prettiest valentines every year. She would never slide into base, or show any of her homemade long, black bloomers made with elastic below her knees, to help win a baseball game. Then why did she always get the prettiest valentines?

Beulah Cole

age 92 Three Springs

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