Thursday, February 12, 2015



Carla Avril photo
Wasn’t that an innocent, sweet time of our lives---before we reached even the lacy-card stage, unless we got into our Mamas’ treasured stashes of paper doilies, saved for Bridge Club sandwich trays and for displaying neat rows of Individual Iced Cakes for visits from the Exalted Grand Matron?   Those small flappy bits of three-colour primary frippery we passed around amongst ourselves were an annual treat; the buying and the making and the careful lettering and the giving were all small parts of a rite as old and as little understood as Love.   And our own childish bits of the ritual were taken as seriously as the two-handed meek offerings of any time-worn creed.

We saved, we shopped, we clipped and glued---those knobby glass bottles with the crusty rubber tops slid across edges and doilies and tabs, and the still-drying gobs and telltale smears of mucilage were a lovable part of the whole. Errant bits of paper, ribbon, lace caught up in the sticky mess have come down the years as dear additions to those eagerly-proffered, gladly-accepted creations from-and-of-the-heart.

We didn’t understand it yet---just our own little corner of the “Like” and “Looking at” world of the primary grades reflected in those three primary colours of the shoddy small Valentines we could afford.  But we were IN IT---Oh, Yes. 

We coveted those small slips of esteem as we did an Add-a-Pearl or an A on a report card---they MATTERED in some uncountable way.  They were the votes in a gaudy ballot-box of approval, though it was unheard of to leave off anyone from your list.

We kept those Valentines from year to year in little boxes or scrapbooks like medals or show-ribbons, as tokens of friendship and regard.  The fact that everybody got one from everybody else was not important---the GETTING was the thing.

I’d carefully laid each little paper inside the pages of my Arithmetic book---the wider of my two textbooks, for safekeeping in my book satchel.   All the way home, we’d pause and take out a few for more admiration.   When I arrived home, Mother was out at her Missionary Society Meeting, and so I excitedly took them over to show to Mrs. P, who was sitting out on her porch.  

We walked out into the sunshine for better effect, and I laid them out, one by one, on the fenders and hood of Mr. Shug’s Jeep as we admired them again.   Then I stacked them carefully, and laid them just inside the open back of the Jeep to pick up as I passed going home.  

I can’t remember why we went into the house, but when I came out,  the Jeep was gone, and with it my beloved stash of Valentines.  I went running out the drive, looking everywhere, and turned onto the blacktop road which led to the big river-bend where he went fishing.   Way up ahead, I spotted a few colourful flutters on the road, and found three or four, much the worse for having been run over.  They had great punches from the rocks, and the imprints of tires, and I can remember the searching on and on with the tears running down my face, looking and picking up the few which I could find.
I went on and on, following the bayou, and could see several floating on the green water like lily pads.   I didn't dare step out into the swamp to retrieve them, and so they were lost to me as if they'd sunk. 

The next day when I came home from school, there was a brand-fresh unopened pack, just like the one I’d so carefully lettered and “sent” awaiting me, from Mr. Shug, who felt really bad about scattering my Valentines “from here to Sunday,” my Mother said.  A little balm for the loss, and every year at this time, I think of that sweet man, sputtering heedless down that bumpy road, trailing a little contrail of colourful cards like Love Propaganda---scattering my childish dreams into the wind.


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Darling Rachel,

We can picture all of this so very clearly!

Those were the days......when our greatest cares involved escaped Valentine cards!

Now, we must hold tight to our loved ones!

L. D. said...

Great memories placed inside a great writing. I like your antique Valentines.

donna baker said...

I do have a few of those left.

Patsy said...

Happy Valentine's Day!

Jeanne said...

Oh my word Rachel, that is a very sad story indeed. I sure do remember how important the "getting" of Valentines cards was so important. It is clearly in my mind watching a few colored valentines floating in the air, on the ground and in the swamp and you crying as you hurried to gather the poor damaged cards. How thoughtful of Mr. Shrug to try and make up for what he did unknown to him at the time. Your photos add to the story so much.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Valentines Day. I am sure your valentines treats will warm the hearts of your loved ones.

We just arrived home from seeing Frankie Avalon in person at out wonderful theater. We were entirely entertained royally. He was awesome and still sings with a wonderful voice. What a grand Valentines gift to ourselves. More about this in a post soon.

Stay warm dear Rachel.
Love, Jeanne

Chel @ Sweetbriar Dreams said...

This is such a lovely story Rachel. True romance xx

Jacqueline said...

Oh, I sure wish I would have saved mine - if only a few! What a sweet and sad memory! How poignant those days are when small simple treasures meant so much!

GSL said...

I wish I had saved some of these too! The illustrators really could make those characters and scenes so loveable!

Jeanne said...

Good cold as heck morning my dear Rachel. I just re-read your valentines posts and had a wonderful recall of my primary years of Valentines Day. I had the silly memory of a cold February day in MI with so much snow we took turns rolling down a small hill like a sled ride. Why??? Some boys challenged the girls to roll down the hill and our reward was a kiss on the cheek for Valentines Day. I haven't thought of this bit of fun forever. At this day and time I can't imagine why I would do such a thing other than the fact that we laughed and had so much fun. Bill just asked my why I was laughing and I told him my memory. Now he is laughing. Thank you for the memory. I was probably 8 years old.
silly little girl.

I love your comments my dear friend. It is always a little story just for me. You are such a dear.

Stay warm in this cold winter we are having.

Kim S. said...

Poor Rachel. And bless Mr. Shug!