Valentine’s Day in the 1940s

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In the 1930s-40s, I lived in downtown Cincinnati and attended old Raschig School on Central Parkway.  In those days, Valentine’s Day was a major holiday in school.  A week ahead of time, the teacher brought in a big cardboard box which we decorated with cutout hearts and bits of paper lace doilies.  A slot was cut in the top and we were encouraged to bring a Valentine for each person in class and put it in the box, waiting for the big day.  The Valentines were “penny Valentines” and probably cost less than a penny apiece in those depression-World War II days.

Then on February 14, it was time to get the Valentines out of the box and distributed to the class.  A boy was chosen to be mailman (never a girl!), outfitted with a paper hat and mailbag.

In 1993, I wanted to make a Valentine for family members and did a sketch of the scene, incorporating my memories of two boys in my class.  Rollo was the only black boy in the class, always well dressed in knickers and argyle socks.  Otto was from the poorest part of the school district and seemed always to be a little grungy with a sole-flapping shoe.  I was a proper little girl with waist length finger curls and a dress made by my mother.  In 1993, I didn’t have a color printer and printed the cards in black and white, then hand watercolored each one.

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Imagine my surprise when about 10 years later, my oldest daughtergave me a Valentine gift of my sketch in redwork.  I had just started quilting at that time and put together a wall hanging with the redwork as the centerpiece.

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The dress on the card was actually a black and white check which my mother later made into a doll dress.  I took a picture of the fabric and printed it in a nine-patch to use as two of the blocks…..

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I also printed fabric blocks with vintage pictures of myself and old Raschig School to add to the history.  I wish I had pictures of Rollo and Otto, but they didn’t take class pictures at our school in those days.

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When I see my grandchildren laboriously writing their names on their little Valentines to take to school and pre-school, I remember musty old Raschig and all the fun of Valentine’s Day.

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Lillian Applegate Westfelt was a mother of 4, grandmother of 6, and great-grandmother of 3. She was an 86-year-old widow living in a nice little bungalow with her oldest daughter and a beagle-dachsund named Addie. She passed away in November, 2018.

8 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day in the 1940s”

  1. I ran acrossyour blog looking for something else..am an avid quilter in ohio also..i live in circleville. have you ever joined a quilting group in yahoo? check out ohioquilters.com
    we have small get togethers…lots of chat some swaps..some do on your own…lots of people helping each other.

    Pat

  2. Loved your story…I was wondering if you could recall the rest of the party. Were there drinks, snacks and games? If so, do you remember what they were?? After the valentines were passed out, did kids read them aloud?

    1. As I recall, there were never drinks, snacks or games. I believe a half-hour or so was set aside at the end of the school day for distributing
      Valentines and getting ready to take them home. I remember spending a lot of time at home with my mother going through the cards and reading them all. It was always important to count them, too. Although we were encouraged to give a Valentine to each person in the class,some people got a lot more than others.

      Thank you for visiting my blog.

  3. I was 10 years behind you, but I remember valentine’s day as well. However, we made our own personal boxes to put on our desks. How sweet that your daughter did the red work!

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