Punch-out Valentines were my favorite!
I loved Valentine's Day as a child. In school we would spend a day decorating old shoe boxes with construction paper hearts and stickers. We struggled cutting out hearts with those blunt scissors and usually got more paste in our hair than on our boxes. There were usually a few kids who enjoyed the sweet minty taste of the school paste...myself included! In my mind my finished box was a work of art...but probably looked something like this...
I liked to wander around the room admiring...critiquing...all the other boxes. I imagined that there would be a special card left in my box by a secret admirer.
Typical Grade School Party.
The 60's were my era.
The party above was probably a lot more fun than the ones I remember. The last hour of school was set aside for us to line up and "deliver the mail." We all seemed to get an equal amount of cards and teacher made sure no one was left out. I worried about that...there were usually a few quiet and shy children in the class. I wasn't quiet, but I was a bit shy. We usually got a heart-shaped cookie that someone's mom had made, then we gathered up our boxes and went home. It was fun to sit on the floor and open the cards. Some had a few conversation hearts sealed inside the envelope, but I don't remember a lot of candy in the stores, except for the heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. I read each card with Mickey Mouse, Fred Flintstone and others seeking a secret message from my admirer, but "I Choo-Choo-Choose You" wasn't exactly a confession of undying love!
Who is Jack?
Until this morning I had never heard of a character called "Jack Valentine." I was online looking for Valentine's trivia as a possible blog topic, when I came across several mentions of Jack. Jack is a folk character from Norfolk in eastern England. He is sometimes known as Old Father Valentine. In Victorian times in Norfolk, Valentine's Eve was almost as important to children (and hopeful lovers) as Christmas with anonymous gifts from secret admirers or parents.
Dressed in a top hat and tails, Jack Valentine would knock upon the door and leave presents for the expectant child. Sometimes Jack would play tricks upon the children and tie string to the gift, so when the child reached for it, he would jerk it away. After the children were thoroughly frustrated, Jack would let go of the string and let them have the gift. But they must never look for him. Some children found the idea of Jack a bit frightening.
This story of Jack brought back a few Valentine's memories from my own childhood. As much as I enjoyed the school party...it was the evening that I liked most. When I got home from school, my mom would be putting sugar cookies on paper plates for our friends. In my old neighborhood in American Fork, it was popular to leave cards or cookies on a neighbor's porch, ring the doorbell and run. This was also when we gave cards to children that were not in our classes. Some tricksters would tie a string to a card and jerk it away when you tried to pick it up. Does this sound familiar? I had never heard of Jack Valentine...yet it seems his spirit crossed the ocean with the British pioneers who settled my home town. What do you know? I learn something new every day!
I hope you have fun memories of Valentine's Day.
Happy Valentine's, Sisters!
P.S. The February "Eating an Elephant" Goals link is on the right side of the page.