Kind friend Dale Lincoln checks in with a neat Valentine's Day story. This story first appeared on the Garden Log in February 2008 and as always from Dale this tale contains a great point at the end:
One cold day in February a package arrived with the mail at my home in Perry. The most exciting item in the catalog order from Sears and Roebuck was an envelope that contained fifty little cards. The pictures on them were bright and colorful and each card had a message: “Be My Valentine.” I was filled with excitement because there was going to be a party at school. Earlier that week the teacher came to school with a bright red, heart-shaped box, with a slot in the top. It was the most beautiful item in the school.
My mother said that all the kids at school, and my teacher, would receive one of those Valentines. The next day I returned from school with the names of all the kids in grades 1 through 4. My mother helped me write their names on the back of the cards. The next day my schoolmates watched me drop those Valentines in the slot at the top of that big red box.
The day of the party was a wonderful day. Lessons ended about an hour before the school buses arrived. The teacher and some of the kid’s mothers served us cake and cookies. We drank punch from little cups, sang songs, and played games. Then the teacher removed the cover from the box and distributed the Valentines. About twenty cards were with me when I arrived home. I looked at the cards several times that evening, and went to sleep thinking about them, ---but Valentine cards are not forever. None of those cards are with me today.
If you think the fun at the first party of my lifetime is over emphasized, you may need to be familiarized with my environment more than six decades ago. The Valentine party happened several years before electricity, running water, oil furnaces, telephones, radios, or automobiles, arrived at my home. With the exception of two electric light bulbs in the classrooms, those items didn’t exist at the school where I “did time” for eight years.
School parties on Valentine’s Day in following years did not generate the excitement of that first one I attended in 1943, but all of them were fun. The cards that warmed the heart in February often started the wood stove in March. Near Valentine’s Day of each year my mother often told her children: “My brother was the only kid at the Eastport school that didn’t receive a Valentine at the school party.” Years later I heard Uncle Millage tell the same story. Memories of not receiving a Valentine may last longer than a card!
One Valentine’s Day my daughter Carol, in Grade 6, returned from school and displayed her collected treasures. One heart-warming card had “Be my Valentine.” on the front of it. The hand-written words on the back were: “YOUR ENEMY, Lisa!” That Valentine card was different and stayed around our home for several years.
The love bug bit me in 1962. Soon after our plans to wed were announced I returned to my job on the oil tanker. Valentine’s Day 1963, my ship was many miles out to sea. At that time I was engaged to Elsie but I didn’t get around to sending her a Valentine card. However I talked to the Radio Officer aboard the S. S. GULFSEAL and he “wired” flowers to my “special nurse” in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. Returning home, after working eight hours at the hospital, Elsie was surprised and happy to find a large bouquet of red carnations in her room. She thought of me a few hours later, in the middle of the night, when she had to take the flowers from her room to prevent asphyxiation! The next morning she moved them to the kitchen table at the place where she was living at that time. In reality, those Valentine flowers had a short shelf life.
Our three children traveled with us to Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1983. We all enjoyed Valentine’s Day that year but my wife didn’t receive a Valentine. Two days after Valentine’s Day I purchased a beautiful box of chocolates that were discounted 75 per cent. The kids and I ate the candy but my wife loved the beautifully decorated, heart-shaped box. For the next 20 years that same box decorated the door of our home in Perry, Maine during the month of February. It is still with our “treasures” today.
All of the pretty Valentine Cards I gave my wife during the past forty years have been deposited in the landfill. One year I almost forgot Valentines Day. Memory of burning the midnight oil on February 13, 1981 reaches me each year when a bright red poster re-appears. It contains pictures of our family and pictures of memorable events over a period of eighteen years. Hand written, two-liner poems, under each photo tells what we were doing on Valentine’s Day 1963 to 1981. It wasn’t a Valentine but it continues to have a shelf life.
Valentine’s Day can be fun. Giving a Valentine Card to that person who is very special to you is a nice thing to do, but don’t wait until Valentine’s Day to tell that person you love them. Do that every day.
for Skillin's Greenhouses
February 7, 2008 (reprinted for 2009)