While today is Valentine’s Day, I assure you that today will be unlike Valentine’s Days of the past.

There will not be the traditional celebrations this year. A trip to your favorite restaurant or club or perhaps a luncheon or dinner at a special hotel will have to wait until another day. COVID-19 has changed things!

Do you recall what you and your significant other were doing last year? Maybe it was dinner at your favorite restaurant. My wife and I attended the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. Annual Sweetheart Valentine brunch. Perhaps you attended a similar event last year. Such was not to be this year.

Some of you know the murky history of Valentine’s Day and realize that it was not pleasant long ago. So, let me suggest that you enjoy this Valentine’s Day. Why not resurrect some of those Valentine’s Days from when you were in elementary school. Resurrecting such memories will not only be fun, but will remind you of how Valentine’s Day used to be, as a child, back in the day.

Let us focus on a time in elementary school when interests in the opposite sex first surfaced. Maybe you remember those silly things we did to get a prospective Valentine. Do you recall passing a note to the target of your affection? That note contained a “yes” box and a “no” box. The box checked would determine if the receiver would be one’s boyfriend or girlfriend. If the recipient checked the “yes” box, the follow-up was simple. But if the note was returned with the “no” box checked, one’s hopes were dashed.

For an elementary school youngster, a “no” response was devastating. Did you ever experience one of these notes coming back with the “no” box checked? If at least one boy or girl managed to peek at the note as it was passed back to you, a “no” meant big problems. Your feelings were hurt, you were crushed and you wanted to sink down in your seat and disappear. Your rejection would spread through the school like wildfire. So, walking down the hall, waiting in the lunch line, or playing outside at recess, you hung your head in disappointment. The teasing words would ring out loud and clear, “Ah! Ah! Mary doesn’t like you.”

Some boys survived and tried other approaches. I know that some of you undoubtedly walked behind a young lady and pulled her hair. How many of you recall this attempt to express one’s interest in that special person? In a previous Valentine’s Day column, I described the action of one of my friends to capture a classmate’s attention. He told me that on Valentine’s Day he placed a piece of Greenleaf Candy on the desk of a young lady that he was pursuing. If she kept the candy, it signaled that he had a chance or that there was hope. However, if she discarded the candy, he had no shot at all. Did any of you take some of your parent’s “Sweetheart Conversation Heart Candy,” place it in an envelope on which you had printed a girl’s name, and take it to school on Valentine’s Day to give to the girl that you liked? You might recall these small pastel hearts that contained message such as, “Marry Me,” “You Rock,” “Be Mine” “Luv You” or “Only You.”

Then there were the cards, made of construction paper or perhaps cut out heart shapes glued onto construction paper. Remember how you dreamed of giving a particular classmate a Valentine’s Day Card when you first laid eyes on that desired boy or girl on the first day of school? I know that some of you remember those days! Yes, we were silly little kids who were quite impressionable, but our thoughts were starting to be transformed into love notes or love letters made at home or in school. Some of you may remember your childhood days — especially if you were around in the 1950s and 1960s and making Valentine’s Day cards with your own romantic and special sayings.

While I do not want to know who you are, I have no doubt that some of you reading this column resorted to the corny practice from back in the day of placing a note, secured with a piece of scotch tape, onto someone’s back expressing your feelings with the hope that there was a possibility that a relationship might develop between the two of you. I wonder if any of you actually placed love notes on paper airplanes that you flew across the classroom when your teacher was not watching. You hoped that your throw was accurate enough to land that paper airplane on the desk of the one you dreamed of being the recipient of your Valentine’s Day note. Maybe you were one who simply took out a piece of paper and wrote a message of friendship or love. Then you folded your note and passed it down the row as other children would whisper, “give this to John” or “give this to Mary.” Yes, as elementary-age school children we were silly and quite impressionable, but our thoughts were starting to turn to love and perhaps this laid the groundwork for many celebrations of Valentine’s Days in the future.

Today, with little chance to observe Valentine’s Day in the way we did in past years, I am hopeful that my encouragement for you to reflect on your elementary school days, those days of young love, will at least put a smile on your face and love in your heart.

Memories of Valentine’s Day are precious and we should cherish those young memories of Valentine’s Day from back in the day.

Kittrels can be reached at backintheday@phillytrib.com or The Philadelphia Tribune, Back In The Day, 520 S. 16th St., Philadelphia, PA 19146

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