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Carol Perkins: Valentine's Day - What sweet memories

Valentine's Day was special in Metcalfe County in the 50s and 60s, especially in elementary school, when to young girls looking for love (in the third grade), they were more . . . and for everyone, the more cards received, the more popular. The more cards, the more popular. . . This was before the day when teachers/parents were as sensitive to the feelings of others. Giving a Valentine to everyone was not done. The reason was purely shallow. If a girl gave a card to a boy who liked her but she didn't like him (as a boyfriend/girlfriend), then the message would be a mistaken one. We put a lot of stock in the meaning of those cheap little Valentine cards . . . - CAROL PERKINS.
Next previous Carol Perkins column - Carol Perkins: Getting older brings retun of childlike things Posted February 9, 2014

By Carol Perkins

By now you will have either celebrated Valentine's Day or ignored it. It is one of those occasions that can go either way. It can be the absolute best day or a disaster. I prefer to think of it as a happy time of love and adoration. It is a Florist dream day, a Hallmark moment, and candy makers delight. Plus, restaurants appreciate this day because it is a sure bet couples will go out to dine.


When I was in elementary school, Valentine's Day was special. Each class decorated a hatbox (back then men wore hats) with crepe paper and paper flowers and a big jar of Elmer's white glue. The teacher cut a slit in the top just large enough for the "mail" to be dropped into the box. This box sat on the teacher's desk and the morning of the big day, and students slipped their Valentines into it, one by one.

Later in the day, the teacher stood in front of the box and called out the names of the recipients. Each of us made our way to the front, smiling in anticipation. Of what? Weren't they all very much alike? To the outsider, yes they were. To the young girl looking for love (in the third grade), they were more. The Valentine cards that were a little mushy would either be an awe-hah moment or an embarrassment for a girl. If the mushy one was from a crush, it was good. If it were from a wanna be crush, it was not.

Also of great importance was the stack of cards on the desk in front of a person. The more cards, the more popular. This was before the day when teachers/parents were as sensitive to the feelings of others. Giving a Valentine to everyone was not done. The reason was purely shallow. If a girl gave a card to a boy who liked her but she didn't like him (as a boyfriend/girlfriend), then the message would be a mistaken one. We put a lot of stock in the meaning of those cheap little Valentine cards.

Valentine's Day was also a time when a teenage boy gave a girl a stuffed animal if he liked her. Unlike today when stuffed animals take up an aisle in a store like a section of a zoo, stuffed animals were not plentiful. The good ones came from one of our drugstores. We didn't have super stores. I remember a lovely little white stuffed poodle I received when I was in the ninth grade. It has yellowed, but I have it tucked in a box in the attic with other priceless memories.

Traditions change very little. Dozens of roses in simple glass vases adorn tables or dressers somewhat wilted by now. The heart shaped box of candy is empty. The school Valentine cars are left on the table and the romance movies are returned. However, somewhere this week a girl will show off her engagement ring to her friends, and a young man will tell his co-workers how he proposed. Awe, what sweet memories. - Carol Perkins


This story was posted on 2014-02-16 03:32:26
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