Secret Young Love Revealed

For such sweet and sentimental objects, valentines seem to have had a surprisingly violent origin. It is said that an early Christian priest named Valentine, angered Roman authorities by marrying couples despite a ban. The unattached men were wanted for military duty. Valentine, the priest, was later sentenced to death for this, and on the day of execution, he sent the jailer’s daughter, who had befriended him a note signed:

“YOUR VALENTINE.” He was later beaten, stoned and beheaded.

Henry III of England established the holiday later by royal charter and the custom came to America with the early settlers.

The first valentines were handwritten expressions of affection and commercial valentines didn’t appear until the end of the 18th century. First there were hearts and flowers and then came the comics. Some of those were more interesting than funny. Alvo Combs would get about as mad when he received on of those as he did when his outhouse was tumped over. I can remember looking at the comic valentines in the Company Store and it seemed every one of them reminded me of someone in Jenny Lind.

Later there were the very intricate ones with mechanical parts. The old handmade valentines are rare and very collectible, especially the ones made in England.

Although there seems to be a decline in popularity of valentines from time to time, there will always be those of us who treasure the memories and the cards themselves. Not for the embossed paper they’re made of, the fragile beauty of the cutout flowers and layered lace, but for the memory of that special day.

I have everyone my boys have given me over the years…and yes, the little homemade ones are my favorites hidden away in hideyholes somewhere.

Valentine Day was my favorite holiday when I was in grade school. February 14 and I was in the second grade. All morning that day, I wondered if I would receive a valentine from the boy who sat behind me in Miss Agnes’ classroom. There was doubt because he didn’t know I liked him, but I was wishing with all my heart, and I hoped it would say “I LOVE YOU!”

After the ling wait, Miss Minton instructed the class to put our books away.

“It’s time to pass out the valentines,” she said.

We were so excited and it seemed my name would never be called, but finally…To Mary Ann Evans, Miss Minton announced from time to time. Sometimes I would blush as I read the little verses.

Miss Minton continued to call out names as we stacked out valentines on our desks, each girl hoping we would get the most.

Again, Miss Minton called my name.

I recognized his handwriting immediately, which were initials, and my heart pounded. I looked at it and was crushed. It was such a plain and simple valentine.

Miss Minton was getting to the bottom of the pretty decorated valentine box when she call out…”To Jacqueline Skinner.”

Jacqueline pranced up front to retrieve her prize valentine form the boy with the initials and on the walk back to her desk, with as much hatred as a second grader could muster in her heart, I made a face at Jacqueline. She waved the valentine int he air while showing it. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, big, lacy and in bold letters…I LOVE YOU! BE MY VALENTINE!

My heart was broken, but not for long as we gathered up our belongings. I placed my plain and simple little valentine between the pages of my Speller, grabbed my penny cedar pencil and erased his initials from Cupid’s heart I had drawn on my Big Chief writing tablet and him from my heart forever…as Jacqueline and I hopped out of the classroom for her to walk home and me to hurry and get on the school bus…Mr. Hall was waiting! Footnote: O.J. is deceased and I wonder where Jacqueline is now.