Posts Tagged ‘Valentine’s Day’

The Comic Valentine

February 14, 2012

The Johnny sent his valentine
And followed on thereafter,
To see her greet “Will you be mine?”
With quite a burst of laughter.

Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio) Feb 14, 1900

Mr. Skinner’s Valentine

Mr. Zachariah Skinner was a lanky ruralist,
Rather loose at knees and elbows, but extremely tight of fist,
With a local reputation as to sharpness in a trade
And an appetite for saving every cent that could be made.
Twice he’d stood at Hymen’s altar, but his wives were now asleep
In that portion of the graveyard where the lots were few and cheap,
And their broken hearted relict, with an eye for number three,
Was attracted very strongly toward the widow Martha Bee.

Now the widow she was rosy, and the widow she was fair,
And her age was nigh to forty, with a year or two to spare,
And her first connubial venture left her pretty well to do,
As, perhaps it’s well to mention, crafty Zachariah knew.
So he thought as Mrs. Skinner she would be exactly right,
And the question how to win her vexted his brain both day and night,
Till there came an inspiration from Dan Cupid’s sacred shrine,
And he thought, “Perhaps ‘twould fetch her if I sent a valentine.”

So he wrote: “Dear Mrs. Martha — I’m a steady man, you see,
And, if you’re a frugal woman — as I understand you to be —
With a faculty for saving and a little cash on hand —
As I’ve always heard you did have — and no mortgage on your land,
Why, as I am sort of anxious for a partner during life,
I just kind of thought I’d write you asking you to by my wife.
P.S. — My heart I send you, just chock full of love divine,
And I’d like to have you take me for to be your valentine.”

This he mailed, and then he waited till the answer came at last,
And he burst the seal to read it, with his pulses beating fast.
“Mr. Zachariah Skinner,” formally the note began,
“Yours received and contents noted. Glad that you’re a steady man
That there heart you mention sending, couldn’t find it round about,
‘Fraid it must have been so little that the mail folks lost it out.
Got some cash and got no mortgage, but your offer I decline,
‘Cause I’ve got no use at present for a comic valentine.”

*          *          *          *          *          *          *
How the story reached the gossips probably will never be known,
Possibly the widow told it to some crony of her own,
But through all that country village, to the township’s farthest line,
Zachariah Skinner’s nickname is “The Comic Valentine.”

Newark Daily Advocate (Newark, Ohio) Feb 13, 1900

A Modern Valentine

February 14, 2012

Image from Swing Fashionista


By Berton Braley

Oh Lady, be my Valentine and hearken to this plea of mine
Which will not be
Perfervid or impassioned;
For should I pull that kind of stuff you’d doubtless call it all a bluff
And calmly say
“Oh, run away,
That line of talk’s old fashioned.”

And so to you, dear Valentine, I will not write a single line
In which “My heart”
Is rhymed with “dart”
Or such-like tender folly; –
That style of wooing girls is dead;
I’ll simply ask you “Will you wed?”
If you’d say “Yes,”
I must confess
I’d think it rather jolly!

Then you, my modern Valentine, would keep your flat, and I keep mine;
You’d be content
To pay your rent,
I mine — just as at present,
And now and then by happy chance we might meet at a play or dance
Or at a tea,
And that would be
Indubitably pleasant
Oh Lady, Lady Valentine, I can’t adopt that modern line,
I love you, dear;
I want you near,
A sweet and loving woman!
What’s that? You will! Oh, gosh, that’s good — but still, I kinda thought you would,
You’re modern, yes;
But none the less
You’ve got a heart that’s human!

(Copyright, 1922)

Lima News (Lima, Ohio) Feb 9, 1922

Hearts! How Many Can You Find?


Appleton Post Crescent (Appleton, Wisconsin) Feb 14, 1927

Also from the Feb, 9, 1922 Lima News

I’m not so sure Mother would be happy to get this particular Valentine!

A Valentine Acrostic

February 14, 2011

An Acrostic


Ah, lady fair with sun-kis’d hair,
Valorously I sing thy charms,
And bid dull care of thee beware
Lest I ‘gainst it do take up arms.
Earth holds for me no lure but thee —
No idol that I cherish more,
Throughout the sea there’s naught could be
I‘d stranger love or so adore,.
Now, if I’m not too vituline,
Enroll me for your Valentine!

February 14th, 1884.

The News (Frederick, Maryland) Feb 9, 1884

Image from Recycled Wares on Flickr.

Faded Valentines

February 14, 2011


Paper lace and golden rings,
Doves and darts and dainty things,
Verses traced in letters quaint,
As the psalter of a saint.
Tucked away in dusty nooks,
As the leave of moldy books,
Where the moth in darkness dines,
Lie the sweet old valentines.

Ghosts of girls of olden times
Haunt the Cupids and the rhymes,
Winsome maids in combs and curls,
Scarlet heels and strings of pearls,
Gallants, too, in buckled shoes,
Jeweled swords and ribboned queues,
What romances one divines
From the yellow valentines!

All the hearts that fluttered so
Are in ashes long ago,
But I fancy belles and beaux,
Sweet with lavender and rose,
From the shadows reappear
In their places once a year,
And together read the lines
Of their faded valentines.

— Minna Irving, in Criterion

The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) Feb 17, 1899

MILAN, Ohio, Feb. 16, 1852.

FRIEND HADLEY — As this is the anniversary of that illustrious and widely honored personage, Saint Valentine, and delicately worded verses, on pretty little bits of sweet scented paper, so soft and velvety, and all bright as California round the edges, are just now “the rage,” perhaps a duplicate of one of these poetic effusions just drawn from a tender section of your friend and correspondent’s heart, as an offering to the shrine of its worships, may be an acceptable “item” for a corner of your paper.

To _____, of Chestnut Hill, Ohio.


St. Valentine’s day! indeed, ’tis very true,
And here I’m minus — really ’tis too bad!
Not one verse written — Oh, I’m, I’m glad,
For ’tis begun, a Valentine to you.

‘Tis not in fancy nor in jesst I write;
My words have meaning if you take them right —
Embellished not with language — but for sound,
Deep in their thoughts an affluence may be found.

Once on a time — it was not long ago —
No matter when — although you really know —
I met — don’t, I beg your pardon — ask me what
A lady, Georgie, close resembling you.

With eyes of lustre, bright as the gazelle’s,
I felt at once their glance and owned their spell.
Her form was light and agile as the roe;
In motions graceful as the willows grow.

Around her brow sweet auburn curls entwined,
Befitting Venus or a Josephine’s,
While o’er her face the graces did impart
A charm of beauty borrowed from no art.

But not in beauty had that face its charm,
Nor sylph like motions of that lovely form;
‘Twas more than this that had such magic spell,
And made the bosom with emotions swell!

‘Twas more than this that kindled hopes like mine,
Round which the joys of brighter days entwine;
‘Twas more than this that woke my silent lyre,
And warmed my heart with its celestial fire.

‘Twas mind, its treasures radiant with a glow,
Sparkling like pearls through waters deep below,
That gave to all like summer to the sky,
Those features charms, and brightness to the eye.

‘Twas heart — such hearts as few have known;
Oh, how I’d prize its affluence to own,
Kind to a fault, and noble as ’twas true;
(Here the resemblance makes me think of you.)
United to those cultured gifts so rare,
That crowned her queen among the jeweled fair.

Now all that’s left in semblance or in form,
Of that fair lady, bright as dewy morn,
By thee’s possessed; yes, Georgie’s thine,
And, I can’t but own it, am your Valentine.

Watertown Chronicle (Watertown, Wisconsin) Mar 3, 1852

Scrambled Valentines

February 14, 2011

Reno Evening Gazette –  Feb 14, 1919

Since this was a political cartoon, I would say the “Scrambled Valentine” was meant sort of a comic (or Vinegar) Valentine. Since I didn’t get the “joke” for all of them, I looked at some of the news articles to get some insight:

Soda Pop – Booze Houn’ =  Prohibition

League of Nations – For the World  (this one was easy) Nobody wanted it = failure

Bumper Crops – Farmers = Lots of wheat expected, but got higher labor costs, but lower wheat prices

Mister Hohenzollern = Had to abdicate throne, end of German monarchy

Willard – Dempsey – Sport Fans = Dempsey Virtually Wipes Out Willard in One Round

44 hour week – Prosperity – For Labor =  Limit work hours – limit  pay –  Organized Labour/Unions

Food Profiteers – Housewife = Food Shortages caused high prices, government tries to go after profits rather than increase food production

Universal Suffrage – Suffraget = Um… women get to vote? Be careful what you wish for?

Congress – Get Busy! = If Congress is “busy” they are doing bad things “for” the country

Job – Our Soldier Boys = (guessing here) Soldiers back from war – Puts others out of work

Paper Dolls for Valentine’s Day

February 13, 2011

This paper doll is VALERIE, drawn by Helen Mallard, age 14. [click to enlarge]

Oakland Tribune – Feb 9, 1930

This is Martha, an old-fashioned Valentine maid, drawn by Edythe Klubauer, age 15. It includes a Valentine Masquerade Costume and an Afternoon Valentine Gown.

Oakland Tribune – Feb 16, 1930

In the same Aunt Elsie section of the paper on the 16th, was this poem:


Old St. Valentine is here,
With his signs of happy cheer;
Valentines with colors bright,
Lacy frills so fine and light;
Cupid’s darting here and there,
Little doves so white and fair,
Make a valentine complete,
With an envelope so neat.

By Winifred Lewis, age 12

My Valentines – By Col. A.M. Hobby

February 14, 2010


This anniversary will be celebrated as long as the human heart has passions. It is a day of confessions, when preference or devotion may be expressed in verse or prose without fear of criticism or offense. It is a day alike welcome to the young heart first touched by the tender passion, or the maturer one which speaks in burning words of love elevating and immortal, that can never be affected by circumstance or weakened by time. That there are such loves even hate and skepticism have never dared to deny. We publish below a poem inspired by the sentiments of the day, which has no superior in the language, and which will continue to be republished because it can not be improved. It is from the pen of one of our most practical and successful business men, who occasionally pauses in the midst of his labors to favor us with such productions as this. How much is fact or fancy in a poet’s confessions the world can never know. It may be as fair to conclude that from observation they tell the secrets of mankind — rather than their own.

In the different experiences described in the poem, each son of Adam will find his own hidden experiences with one of Eve’s daughters, made known. We know of no poem in the range of our reading that tells so many secrets in brilliant verse and touching pathos:



Come fill to the brim, let us drink to the day,
Old memories back it will bring,
One bumper, to banish life’s winter away,
Then back to its glorious spring.
Old age shall be cheered at the banquet of mirth,
As love lighted visions arise,
Like blooms that are hidden, will spring from the earth,
When wooed by the smile of the skies.

I am standing again at the portal of youth,
‘Mid memories many and tender,
And the future grows bright as the rainbow of truth,
Unrolls in its magical splendor.
In the school-house again, where in solitude waved
The sorrow-toned shadowless pine,
At the old oaken desk, where her name is engraved,
I am writing my first Valentine.

A poor wounded heart is suspended above,
Cupid’s arrows are piercing it through,
And I swore by each note in the gamut of love,
That my love should forever be true.
Its edges were gilt, and its sides were embossed,
Without an erasure or blot;
The t’s with a rule were all carefully cross’d,
And the I’s had their heavy round dot.

Her face was all beauty, and faultless her form,
Her cheeks wore the roses of May,
Her ringlets were tinged with the blushes of morn,
And her eyes they were azure as day.
We parted, and others were soon in her place,
I fervently sighed as they passed,
I hailed them in turn, queen of beauty and grace,
And the dearest was always the last.

And whence do you ask, are those Valentines now?
One has gone to the Kingdom of peace —
I smoothed down her tresses and kissed her cold brow,
It was white as the young lamb’s fleece;
And long hath she slept where the jessamine arch,
Bends lovingly over her tome,
And spring seems to pause, in her glorious march,
To shed there her fragrance and bloom.

Another whose days have been cheerless and cold —
Her brow keeps the record of care,
She bartered affection for acres and gold,
For a life that she never could share;
And others are treading life’s silent decline —
Some invite me, perhaps, to a dance;
And a bumper or two of the mellow old wine
Rekindles the early romance.

In the smile of the daughter the mother appears,
And the idol I worshipped is seen;
I gaze and forget that a river of years
Is silently flowing between.
Oh! well is it thus, that my fancy takes wing,
My bachelor dares to assuage;
Thus rose-buds are plucked from the gardens of spring,
To bloom in the winter of age.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Feb 14, 1873

Comic Valentines: Destroying Professional Pride

February 13, 2010

My butcher don't cast at me such sheeps eyes Oh look at my blushes and hear my deep sighs Just look at the beauty in every feature Of your handsome face, you dear killing creature Oh have you the pluck to offer your heart I can't be a liver, if we two must part So make a joint of me so fine My greasy looking Valentine.

Image from: Norfolk Museums

[Copyright, 1889, by American Press Association.]

We do not wish to be considered irreverent when we say that every saint, like every dog, has his day. If it were not perfectly consistent to mention the dog and the saint in the same breath we don’t believe there would be such an animal extant as the Saint Bernard dog — or at least he would flourish under a different name.

The fourteenth of February belongs to Saint Valentine, and it is quite as natural to send and to receive valentines on this day as it is to set off firecrackers on the Fourth of July, to eat roast turkey on Thanksgiving and to loaf on Labor Day.

As the valentine, correctly speaking, is a love poem, it seems difficult to explain the existence of the popular penny or comic valentine for a cent, which is sent to all sorts and conditions of men and women, not with a view to winning their affection, but as a means of making them acquainted with their defects and shortcoming, and doing it in a manner calculated to destroy their peace of mind and make them unhappy for many days. As a rule they would destroy the professional pride in the bosom of one usually considered a proficient practitioner of his art. The barber, for instance, who shaves you without inflicting pain either with his razor or his information, is informed by a grotesque picture and a vilely constructed verse that his razor is like an oyster knife, and that he should learn to handle it in a manner different from that employed by a mason in the manipulation of a trowel, or a grocer in the act of letting the daylight into a box of sardines with a can opener.

The plumber is another popular target for him who sends the penny valentine, and he is represented as being anything but honest and conscientious. He is shown in the act of smashing boilers and sending in big bills for work that has never been done. The exaggeration of the situation is enough to make even a plumber laugh, even if it is a warm day upon which it is impossible for a pipe to freeze or a boiler to burst. Our plumber has always done his work well and cheap, and we think he should have a pleasant valentine — one that is truthful and calculated to do him justice and make him happy in the knowledge of the fact that his efforts are appreciated at their highest value. But we will address it to the guild, assuming that our plumber is only a fair specimen of this great, important craft:


His heart is sound, his hand is strong,
His touch is sure and true;
Oh, who begrudges him the wealth
That’s but his honest due?

To smash your boiler or your pipe
Or tub he ne’er descends;
He never, never never works
For mercenary ends.

His work’s first class, his bills are small,
His credit’s more than long,
The sunshine of his gracious smile
Is like a breath of song.

We glory in the pleasant sight
That shows him in his prime —
Out sailing in the summer yacht
He earned in winter time.

The tailor is an artist with whom even people endowed with the ordinary instincts of charity have little or no sympathy. He is universally regarded very much as an ogre in a fairy tale; that is, an undesirable creature, in whose bosom the instincts of a monster are ever active. No one has a kind word for him any more than for a pirate or a hackman. Yet we feel it a solemn duty to speak of our tailor as we find him during an experience of a decade:


Here’s a conscientious tailor,
And a tailor great is he,
Fitting merchant, truckman, sailor,
Cop and poet to a “T.”
To the painter and the rector
He gives lots of time to pay,
And he sends no gaunt collector
‘Round to see them every day;
Springing like a catamount
For a little on account.

The experience with the tailor is not of a more unusual nature — in fact, not more of an Arabian night in its way — than the experience we have had with our vegetable peddler. We have dealt with him several years and think he is entitled to a complimentary valentine if any human being is. It is considered the proper thing to assume that an eel is as slippery as a vegetable peddler; that he is the creature that is more to be feared than an architect. Yet we feel bound to say, and we take pleasure in saying, that our vegetable peddler is a charming man to meet, at least when upon his professional chariot, drawn by an old gold steed whose ribs protrude to such an extent that by drawing a stick along them you unconsciously perform what might be facetiously termed an oxtemporaneous xylophone solo. This peddler never fumbles the potatoes in such a way as to make you fancy you are getting more than you are paying for. He shakes them down honestly and does not create a pyramid on top. They run the same size all the way through, and we take pleasure in saying so. And we believe other peddlers are quite as honest and worthy the confidence of the public. We therefore feel that we are doing a noble work in thus addressing:


Your cabbages and turnips,
Your salsify and pumpkins,
Your squashes and tomatoes
Are always prime and fine.
Your peaches and your apples,
Your pears and cauliflowers
Are ever sweet and luscious
And mellow as old wine.
Long may you wave and flourish,
If only for the measure,
The brimming, honest measure
You to your patrons give.
Your measures are unconscious
Of any thick, raised bottoms.
Oh, paragon of peddlers,
Long may you bloom and live
In eighteen carrot rapture,
And spot cash custom capture.

That the comic valentine has come to stay goes without saying. Although beautiful from an economic standpoint, it could be still more beautiful if it but reflected the truth; and it should be truthful to be permanent. What is all this carping nonsense we hear about the milkman? Who originates these would be witty stories, whose mission is to raise a laugh at the expense of this useful public servant, and place his honesty forever within the pale of criticism? Such jokes as saying that it would be more appropriate to decorate his grave with water lilies than milkweeds, and that an artistic as well as proper trademark for him would be a water moccasin and a milk adder, intertwined about a pump handle, should lose their currency at once. We believe our milkman to be as pure in spirit as the cream that floats upon his milk, and if his virtues could be condensed and expressed in one word, that word would be “angel.” It is with a desire to do the right thing by this man and his professional brethren that we have indited the following valentine:


Although the public howling
Upon you loves to jump,
I know your milk is never
Assisted at the pump.

You never fill with water
Your polka dotted beeve
To raise her yielding limit
At orange tinted eve.

Your ways are ever honest,
And as an honest man
I gayly drum your praises
Upon this old milk can;

And trust that fate your cream jug
May fill unto the brim,
And let you like a swallow
The sky of fortune skim.


The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) Feb 13, 1892

St. Valentine, Lupercalla and the Vinegar Valentine

February 13, 2009


St. Valentinus, whose head was rolled into a basket one bright morning in the year of our Lord, 270, lent his name to the day which is now consecrated to youth and live, but it is pretty generally conceded by wise men that it is an anachronism to connect him with the origin of the festival. Indeed traces of the celebration have been found among the traditions which come down from the pagans of ancient Europe, and in several directions may be detected evidences that it was not a custom founded in Rome, but rather inherited there.

In the long ago there was a custom among the youth in Rome to draw from a golden box a slip of paper on which was written the name of a girl. This was done in the name of Pau and Juno, and was called the Lupercalla . Later the priests substituted the names of saints for those of young women, and the 14th of February was fixed upon for the feast of Lupercalla. Out of this grew the customs which are now observed on St. Valentine’s day.

There is one thing these wise books do not tell us, however, and that is where and when the comic valentine originated. If you will take from its shelf any one of the standard works of this description you will also discover that it maintains a discreet, yet significant, silence upon the causes which led up to the decapitation of old St. Valentinus that smiling morning in the long ago. It simply tells you that he was executed in the midst of the Caludian persecutions, but never for a moment should it be forgotten that even persecutors must have a cause. There has long been a private suspicion that old St. Valentinus was himself the originator of the comic valentine , and that he expiated his crime in about the proper manner. It does not require any undue stress upon the imagination to see him forwarding to the Emperor Claudius, a picture of a knock-kneed, whopper jawed pirate who is surmounted with a tinsel crown and whose nose is painted with the tints of conflagration, while beneath it all stood a bit of verse which more than intimated that Claudy, old boy, didn’t know enough about the emperor business to hurt. And what would be more natural than for Claudy to call for his wardens, ho! and cut off Mr. Valentine’s head?

The writers tell us that the romantic features of St. Valentine’s day are being revived, particularly in England. We are glad of this, because we have always felt that one day at least should be set apart in honor of that single passion which dwells with man and beast alike. Love is just as much entitled to a festival as labor. To the latter we have given a legal holiday, and the day is cominng when old St. Valentine will find himself recognized in the statutes made and provided as well as through the pictorial rash which breaks out upon humanity once in every year.

The Daily Herald (Chicago, Illinois) Feb 9, 1901

Grandma’s Valentine: A Civil War Era Tale

February 12, 2009


(By Georgia Custis)

"The postman! the postman!" cried Dorothy, dancing excitedly about the nursery. "He is coming here; I hear his whistle! Oh, nurse! please may I go down and see if he has brought any valentines?"

"Not with your cold, dearie," said nurse, shaking her head, and so Dorothy had to be content with peering over the stairs, while Donald clattered down and came back again with his hands full of envelopes, large and small.

"One, free, six for me!" he panted, " and one, free, seven for Dorothy!" And how happy the children were as they tore open the envelopes and explained the pretty cards and verses which they contained. And then Sister Nell came in to show them her valentine, a great bunch of beautiful roses and when Dorothy asked her if she could guess who had sent them (for guessing is half the fun on St. Valentine’s day), she grew quite red, and said, "Why, no; of course she couldn’t; how could she?"

And just then dear grandma came in to see what the children were making such a racket about. And, of course, they showed her their valentines and Nell pinned on of her most beautiful roses on grandma’s black dress; and then, quite unexpectedly, Dorothy looked up into the sweet, placid old face, and asked gravely: "Grandma, did you ever get a valentine?"

Grandma did not reply for a moment and then she stooped and kissed Dorothy on the forehead, and something very bright and glistening fell among the brown curls. "Yes, dear," said grandma, softly, "lots of them; but I had one which I think I must tell you about some time."

"Oh! tell us now!" cried all the children at once; and Nell, who had been placing her valentine in a vase of water, joined in the general coaxing.

"Nell," said grandma, "If you really want to hear, I will tell you about it; but wait a moment, I can show you my valentine."

She left the room, and she was gone so long that the children had time to wonder greatly what grandma’s valentine could be, and they were all gathered around her chair, with eager, expectant faces, when she returned. She carried in her hand a small, old-fashioned work box, whose covering, once bright and gay, was worn and faded now. She smiled into the upturned faces as she resumed her place among the children; but there were tears in her eyes as she said:

"Now, children, I will show you my valentine; but, first, I must tell you part of the story. And I must also explain that when I was young people made their own valentines, and, although they may not have been as pretty as the modern ones, perhaps, yet I think they were a great deal nicer, because, you see, nobody would take the trouble to make a valentine unless it were to send to somebody that one was very fond of, indeed. But Donald is growing impatient for the story! When I was a young girl, I lived in a dear old country town, which some of you have seen. My father and mother both died when I was a very little child, and so I lived with my grand parents, and very kind and good they were to me, and I loved them very dearly.

Nevertheless they were very old, and, somehow, they seemed to have quite forgotten how it felt to be young and full of life, and grandma did not understand why I was not always content to sit quietly in the house, reading or sewing all day, when all my young friends were out skating or sleighing, if it were winter, or picnicking or rowing on the river if it were summer. The old people had no amusement, however, of which they never wearied, especially in the long winter evenings; they dearly loved a rubber of whist. I could play, ___ and any of my young friends who would consent to make up a game by taking a hand was always a welcome guest. ‘I think your friend, Benjamin Worrell, is a very fine young man,’ grandpa would say, and then he was dare? to add, ‘He plays an excellent game;  a little reckless, perhaps, at games, but he had a good head.’ Once repeated this praise to Ben" —

"Why, that was grandpa’s name," interrupted Dorothy. "I remember — Col. Benjamin Worrell, it says so under his picture in the library."

"Yes," said grandma, smiling, "he was your grandfather; but he did not seem much like a grandfather then. He was very tall and straight, with flashing black eyes and dark curling hair, and he had a fine way of throwing back his head when he talked. People used to call him ‘Handsome Ben,’ which annoyed him very much; but when I told him what grandpa had said he was quite pleased. ‘But what a hypocrite I must be, Kate,’ he said, laughing, ‘to make the dear old gentleman think that I come here just to play whist, when my real reason for coming is to see you.’ "Your grandfather was always bold as a young man," said grandma, apologetically.

"Well, your grandfather used to come evening after evening, and he played long games of whist with the old people; but he used somehow to get in a little talk about our own affairs, although we seldom had a chance to see each other alone. And then the 14th of February came around, and I had scores of valentines, and great sport it was, for each young man had to deliver his own, and it was no easy task to do this without being seen, which would have spoiled the fun. Well, just toward dusk, I happened to be looking from an upper window, and I saw a tall figure creeping along by the garden wall. He had his hat drawn down well over his face, but I caught just a glimpse of a dark moustache, and, I assure you, my dears, it was all I could do to behave with becoming dignity, when Sophie, our old colored servant, came upstairs with a square envelope addressed to me."

"Oh! I know!" cried Dorothy, clapping her hands. "It was grandpa’s valentine!"

"Yes," said grandma, "and here it is." and she drew from the box an old-fashioned envelope addressed in faded ink and in an elaborately disguised hand, to "Miss Katherine Onderdonk."

She handed the envelope to Nell, who, almost reverently drew forth the valentine. It was a playing card, the Queen of Hearts, and over the back had been nearly pasted a sheet of white paper, on which were written the following lines:

"My Kate is surely Queen of Hearts,
And I will swear she’s queen of mine.
Let’s play a game where Love is trumps;
Sweet Kate will be my valentine?"

The children all declared the poetry to be very beautiful.

"But, grandma," cried Donald and Dorothy together, "what is that queer round hole right through the middle of the card?"

Sure enough, there was a hole, which had pierced card and envelope just as the children had said.


"Wait a moment," said grandma, "we are coming to that." " It was very soon after St. Valentine’s day that your grandfather spoke to my grandfather about making me his wife, and grandpa was very much surprised, although our love-making had been going on for some months right under his eyes. And he hesitated a good deal, but finally, as there was no real objection, he gave his consent."

Grandma paused here for a few moments, thinking, I suppose, of those dear, happy days, now so long past; and the children had to remind her that they were waiting for the rest of the story.

"It was just after that," continued grandma, "that Ben had to go away on business for a few weeks, and he begged me to have a picture made of myself to give him on his return. I dearly loved to tease him in those days, and shortly after he had started on his journey I wrapped the valentine he had sent me very carefully in several thicknesses of paper, so that he would think it contained the stiff case of a daguerreotype, and sent it to him by mail. Meanwhile I had a fine picture made for him with which to surprise him on his return, but he would not give me back my valentine. ‘Do you think,’ he said, laughing, ‘that I am going to return the first present you ever gave me? No, indeed! though I did make it myself.’ And he declared that he should always carry it next to his heart.

"Well, the following spring we were married, and then we began our hut-building. Ben planned the house himself, and I went with him to Boston to select the furniture. It was while we were there tht we hear the news that made our hearts stand still.

"Fort Sumter had been fired upon! We read the announcement in the paper, with white face, and Ben kept saying all day, ‘Oh, Kate! this is too terrible! I never thought it would come to this!’ We went home with sad hearts, in spite of our carload of household treasures, for those were days when private joys and sorrows seemed as nothing in view of the danger which threatened the whole country. The governor of our state had ordered the state troops, and the militia as well, to be in readiness; and Ben mustered quite a company of his friends (the finest and bravest young men in town), and they drilled night and day to be in readiness for the call. And I encouraged him in this work, God knows, with what a sinking heart, but Ben never suspected that I was half a coward. Your dear mother was a tiny baby then, and I used often to sing her to sleep with patriotic airs to keep my own courage. And then at last it came — the call for troops — we were expecting it; but, oh! how weak I was when I heard Ben’s voice shouting upstairs, ‘Kate, Kate, the president has sent for us.’

"I was putting baby to sleep (your mother, you know, dears) and I knelt by her cradle for just one moment, praying for strength. And it came, for when Ben entered the room I was able to smile quite bravely, and to help him pack his knapsack, for they were to start that very night."

Grandma paused here for a moment, but no one spoke, and she went on in a low voice:

"How well I remember that night! It was raining, and very cold and damp; but every mother and sister and wife and sweetheart in town were at the station to see them off. Most of the women were crying bitterly, but I could not shed a tear, and when Ben took me in his arms to say good-bye his lips moved, but he could not utter a word, and I could hear the beating of his heart. As the train pushed out there were shouts and cheers, of course, to keep up the courage of the men, and somebody shouted, ‘Three cheers for Captain Worrell!’ and the crowd took it up with a will. And then I looked up and say my husband for the last time on this earth. He had climbed on top of the rear car and was raising his cap to the crowd (they were all life-long friends), and when he saw me raise my head (with anguish written all over my face, I suppose), his own face was convulsed for a moment, and then he tried to smile, and pointed upwards, meaning, I suppose, that we were in God’s hands. And then the train was swallowed up in the mist."

Again she paused, and again no one spoke.

"I heard from him many times after that," she continued. "Sometimes not for months, and then a whole batch of letters would come at once — always bright and cheerful, those letters, and full of little incidents and anecdotes which he thought might amuse and interest me, seldom a word of his own privations, and even sufferings. I do not know how we women endured the long strain of that waiting for news. If it had not been that your mother was such a very young infant, I believe I would have followed my husband as some wives did, preferring anything to the terrible suspense of waiting quietly at home.

"And then the dreadful slaughter began. But you, children, must wait until you are older to hear about that.

"One day I was walking restlessly up and down the piazza of my little home, my baby in my arms, trying to put her to sleep as best I could without a lullaby (for I could no longer sing), when a soldier came up the path leading to the house. I knew him well, although he was greatly changed, for he was a neighbor and had been in Ben’s company. I knew at once that he was the bearer of bad news, and as he approached nearer, I could not speak, but just held out my hand. He laid a small package in it, saying, ‘God pity you!’ and that was the last I knew for may hours. When I came to myself I still held the package in my hand, and when I had the courage to open it, the first thing I saw was — my valentine, torn as you have seen, by the bullet which had pierced one of the bravest hearts that ever shed its life-blood for our country."

There was silence when grandma had finished speaking; Sister Nell was crying and Donald whispered,

"I say, Dorothy, let’s put away our valentines until tomorrow."

Hayward Review (Hayward, California) Feb 9, 1900