The Valentine's Day Mystery

Christmas and New Year’s Day are over, and they were great, but it does feel good to rest a bit after the festivities. The next official nonofficial holiday is Valentine’s Day February 14th. That’s a Friday, and it just over a month away, just in case you want to get me a card 😊.

When I was a child growing up in the early 1950s, Valentine's Day was as an important holiday for kids as it was for adults. I think it was an excellent educational tool because it taught little boys about rejection and little girls about how important they would become when they became teenagers.

All kidding aside, I remember that a week before Valentine's Day, our teachers would decorate the classroom with red crepe paper, hearts, and cupids. In between atomic bomb attack drills, and assemblies where we pledged alliance to our flag and said a silent prayer, our teachers showed us how to make Valentine Day cards for our family.

Our teachers would suggest that we make cards for our fellow students, as well. They also told us that if we brought anything to eat, on the big day, such as cookies with nuts, candy, or cupcakes that we bring enough for everyone.

The thing was that giving a Valintine card to someone was a very important thing for a 3rd grader. It meant you like them. Boys would agonize over which girls to give a card to because this was an important ritual on the road to manhood. Girls freely gave cards to their girlfriends, and carefully selected which boy’s hearts they would break that day.    

On the big day, most of the kids came armed with cards and candy. Little hearts were beating fast in anticipation of receiving one or hopefully more Valintine cards. It could have also been from all the sugary heart candies and cookies we ate. When the time came to give out our cards, the girls handed out their red envelopes to each other and then selected one or two boys who they conveyed their “like” for by handing them a card.  Each girl in the room would have a stack of cards from other girls.

Back then, boys didn’t give other boys Valintine cards. It just wasn’t done. That meant some boys had no cards and very few had more than one card. If you had multiple cards, you were considered to be one of the cool kids for the rest of the year.

I had made two cards. One for Lois, my crush, and one for Lorraine, who I liked. I got up my courage and sauntered over to Lois first. Trying to maintain some level of cool, I handed the card to her and said, “here.”  Lois took the card and placed it on her stack and gave me a wry smile. Then I made my way through the crowd of boys who gathered around Lorraine’s desk and flipped my card on her pile and made my way back to my desk. Would I have a card, maybe two?

I had one card on my desk and I hurriedly and with deep anticipation opened it. On the front was a big red heart with an arrow stuck in it. I opened it and read the inscription, “ Roses are Red, Violets are blue. You’re okay. Guess who?” It wasn’t signed. I wondered for the rest of the year who it was that thought I was okay.

It all worked out in the end. I found the right one and got married at age 20 and we have been together for almost 55 years.

Happy early Valentine's day.

Originally posted on The Kensington Neighborhood Alumni Group on Facebook.

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