By Cecelia McKeig
What do you think of when you hear the word “Valentine”? Do you think of the Valentine’s Day Massacre, Saint Valentine, Commissioner Valentine of Prohibition Days – or more likely, do you think of chocolates and red roses?
Valentine's Day is the second most popular holiday for exchanging greeting cards, and teachers receive more Valentine cards than anyone. Even before Hallmark started producing Valentine greetings cards in 1913, Valentine’s Day was observed in many ways including sending notes, gifts, and postcards.
Cupid is Afoot in Bemidji
Valentine's Day was appropriately observed by the school children at Central School in 1911. Each room had a Valentine box, and the pupils were allowed to send valentines to their friends and teachers. The kindergarten room, under Miss Whiting, was the scene of much enjoyment during the afternoon. Milton Miller, who was five years old, brought a birthday cake to school, and this together with the valentines, made the afternoon pass merrily. One little girl in Miss Whiting’s room of the kindergarten was heard to say: "My, I am happy today. I always am happy on Christmas and Valentine day.”
Emma Hart was also happy when she and David Fairbanks were married on Valentine’s Day in 1917. The newspaper reported, “When David Fairbanks of Cass County offered his heart to Emma Hart as a valentine heart, Miss Hart's heart fluttered, and in Judge Harris' office of the county probate court, Miss Hart joined her heart with Mr. Fairbanks' heart and the two hearts beat as one heart as Valentine hearts should. The bride is a resident of Red Lake and they were attended by John Fairbanks and Miss Marie Hart. The newlyweds are both well known in their home communities.”
“When David Fairbanks of Cass County offered his heart to Emma Hart as a valentine heart, Miss Hart's heart fluttered, and in Judge Harris' office of the county probate court, Miss Hart joined her heart with Mr. Fairbanks' heart and the two hearts beat as one heart as Valentine hearts should.
Valentine’s Day is the most common wedding day in the United States. In Beltrami County in 1918, Marvin Highart and Josephine Clark chose Feb 14 as their wedding day. Irene Cole married Charles Hardrath on Valentine’s Day in 1919. Emma Brose married Earl Condon in 1920. The trend is even more noticeable in Beltrami County when four couples were married in 1947 and three were married in 1948.
Valentines Day Distracts from Heavier News
Despite the rumblings of war on the front page of the Bemidji Pioneer in 1917, the newspaper also gave space to a very sweet Valentine!
I'll build a house of lollypops.
Just suited, sweetheart, to your taste;
The windows shall be lemon drops.
The doors shall be of jujube paste.
Heigh-o, if you'll be mine!
With peppermints I'll pave the walks;
A little garden, too, I'll sow
With seeds that send up sweetened stalks
On which bright candied violets grow.
Heigh-o, my valentine!
Some seats of sassafras I’ll make
Because I know you think it's nice;
The cushions shall be jelly cake
Laced all around 'with lemon ice,
Heigh-o, if you'll be mine!
We'll have a party every day
And feast on cream and honeydew.
And, though you're only six, we'll play
Here That I am just as young as you,
Heigh-o, sweet valentine! —
By Anna M. Pratt in St. Nicholas.
Bemidji Businesses Buy-In to the Holiday
In 1969, Bemidji celebrated with a parade, some special events, and the crowning of Miss Valentine of Bemidji. There were sales in most of the stores. The winner of the contest and the person writing the letter that led to the choice of the lucky lady were taken on a tour of the town. Meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner were promoted at the Coachman, Steve’s Café, the Gasthaus, and the Sveden House. Bemidji’s Brownie Troop 239 celebrated Valentine’s at the Bemidji Bowl in 1969, exhibiting some unique bowling techniques.
In 1972, the Bemidji Jaycees sponsored a special Valentine’s Party at Fairview Nursing Home. Mr. and Mrs. Guy LaDuke, age 82 and 81, enjoyed ice cream, exchanging cards, and bingo along with the other residents. The Jaycees also visited Bemidji Hospital and had planned to do the same at the Beltrami Nursing Home but could not do so because of a visitors’ ban because of the flu.
Will we celebrate Valentine’s Day this year? In this day and age, we tend to express our love through gifts. And the most popular gift is candy — specifically, chocolate. The National Confectioners Association says as many as 40 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold each year. No doubt Chocolates Plus and other local vendors will be busy. I hope someone remembers me!