Valentine's Day — A Perfect Day to Show and Tell

The artifact today is a 1957 Valentine preserved in the scrapbook that starred in Episode One of Show and Tell, the video series that will run in this blog space once or twice a month, depending on the response it gets from viewers like you.

The valentine in the video could use a little more context. One of my great desires in childhood was to be like the other kids and have a TV. This desire was so powerful that I dreamed about it. So looking at a valentine featuring a TV set and sent to me from another little Mennonite girl who was equally (to our way of thinking then) deprived, amuses me now.

On this day of appreciating our friends, let me say again how much I enjoy sharing this space with you where we extract meaning out of our lives. My own life is much the richer because of you. Happy Valentine’s Day!

And if you are up for a really profound Valentine treat for memoir writers and readers, try this one from Lisa Dale Norton: The Love and Hate of Memoir.

Do you have any Valentine artifacts, either physical or metaphysical, to share? A memory perhaps of that big, yet scary, day in elementary school when everyone distributed valentines and counted them up at the end of the day ? Or a first Valentino in your life?

Shirley Showalter


  1. melodie davis on February 14, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Yes, why was counting how many you got so very important? I remember a valentine from Jack in 4th grade that was probably the most exciting I ever got in elementary school. He was cute and popular and he included a little heart candy in it that I probably read WAY more into than he ever meant! Did not marry Jack, obviously. 🙂

  2. shirleyhs on February 14, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Oh yes, exactly. We counted and then we scrutinized, looking for signs that those we “loved,” loved us back. And almost never did the one we focused on focus on us. Even if the little heart candy said so.

    There’s something so poignant in that desire. I just want to go find fourth-grade you and tell you that life will be ok even if you don’t marry Jack! Obviously it has been.

  3. Sharon Lippincott on February 14, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I remember taking a shoebox to school and decorating it to receive those glossy tokens of esteem back in third through fifth grades. Only a couple of kids got valentines from everyone in the class. I was not one of them. Neither did I GIVE valentines to everyone one. I could not IMAGINE giving one to TL, neither did I receive one from him. Not getting one from everyone was humiliating to various degrees, depending on where you ranked in the pecking order. I don’t think we counted out loud for the class. I’m pretty sure the counts traveled via whisper-net, but … that doesn’t entirely make sense. Why would anyone admit s/he got fewer? Oh, my. Today I am grateful for having survived those years of angst!

    • shirleyhs on February 14, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      The shoebox. I had forgotten how we created our Valentine post office. But yes, that was it. And I think we had student post masters and post mistresses, too? The day of love got a little corrupted by the competition for the highest spots on the pecking order. Yet every year we would return again to the ritual, hopefully.

  4. Ray Evans on February 14, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    It’s been so long ago that I really don’t remember much about the giving and receiving of valentines in our little one room school. We only had a maximum of fourteen kids while I attended and that included all grades through eight.

    I do remember making them though, and I think that was exciting! Little boys and little girls see things like valentines through toatally different eyes, little girls want to be loved, little boys just want to go fishing! Little boys try to emulate their fathers, I think my father thought that valentines were rather silly!

    My gals get weird valentines from me though, they’re usually hang-ups for outdoors made out of metal scrap, (My hobby is making yard-art out of recycled junk)! I’m never sure whether they really like them or if they are just trying to humor me, they all seem to have about twenty years worth in their collection, at any rate!

    TOG (the Old Geezer from Geezerville)

  5. shirleyhs on February 14, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Imagine a school without enough students to have at least one in every grade. What a challenge for the teacher. Did you have a good one, Ray?

    Valentine sculptures out of scrap metal. You must have learned how to make art as well as how to fish. Or would you not call your hobby art?

  6. Tina Barbour on February 14, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    I enjoyed your video and seeing the Valentine’s cards you received in the 50s. It brought back memories of the cards we gave at school. It was always an exciting but scary ritual. I would hope for a valentine from some cute boy, but I was usually (always?) disappointed.

    In the present, my husband and I keep Valentine’s Day pretty simple, but he always sends me flowers, even when I tell him not to spend the money on it. I have to say I love receiving the flowers and his sweet card every year. This year he sent me beautiful lavendar roses in a purple vase.

    • shirleyhs on February 14, 2013 at 7:38 pm

      Lavendar roses in a purple vase — sounds like a very creative valentine to me, Tina. I’m so glad you let your husband be a touch extravagant on this day. It’s a gift to receive a gift graciously too.

      I think those elementary school valentines were disappointing to many of us hoping for the attention of the popular boys.

      Glad you have the excitement without the disappointment now.

  7. Ray Evans on February 14, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Yes, we had some good teachers considering the circumstances. Sometimes they had to import a teacher with kids so that they would have the required six to keep the school open. I went through all eight grades alone exept for the last half year.

    We were in a pretty isolated situation, a good share of the winter our little village could only be accessed by rowboat. I had a very unusual childhood by todays standards, (not bad, just unusual)!

    TOG, (the Old Geezer from Geezerville)

    • shirleyhs on February 14, 2013 at 7:39 pm

      You do have an unusual story, Ray. Thanks much for sharing bits of it here!

  8. Lisa Dale Norton on February 14, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Dear Shirley,

    Thanks so much for mentioning my blogpost about the Love and Hate of Memoir.

    How goes the book?

    Do be in touch via e-mail, if you like.



    • shirleyhs on February 14, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      Hi Lisa,

      I loved your post. It’s much more profound than this one, so I inserted it for additional inspiration. Hope some readers checked it out.

      My book is heading to the end of the process. One more week revising and then it goes to the publisher for the rest of the process. I’ll be celebrating that step soon!

  9. Ray Evans on February 14, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    It wasn’t until I started writing my memoirs that I began to see that I had an interesting life. It was certainly different than it was for most folks. I’ve covered a lot of ground in my 80 years, that’s for sure!

    TOG, (the Old Geezer from Geezerville)

  10. Linda Gartz on February 16, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    This is a little after Valentine’s Day. I enjoyed your message of love and that great TV Valentine in the scrapbook. If you go to my blog on Valentine’s Day in 2012 and 2011, you’ll see some pretty cute Valentines — 1942 from my Mom to my Dad (before married) and 1911 from my grandpa to my grandmother, wooing her from America and hoping to get her to join him.

    This Year I posted the loving letter my grandmother wrote to her youngest son, my uncle Frank, who was a new draftee in WWII Army Air Corps. I’m now posting the letters that flew back and forth between Frank and his family and friends 70 years to the date they were written. A history of what a young man experienced — and a mother’s worried heart.

  11. shirleyhs on February 17, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Hi, Linda, good to hear from you. I did indeed go back to your previous posts (by searching on the word Valentine in your search box). Your examples across several generations illustrate again how much valentines illustrate not only the prevailing language of love but both the culturally specific, and every changing, context of love and the universal feelings of love of all kinds (romantic, family, friendship, etc.).

    • Linda Gartz on February 17, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      Hi Shirley
      Thanks for checking out the Valentines on my blog and your encouraging comment on the latest WWII letter. I’m so thrilled for your rapid approach to the finish line on your latest book!

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