News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 17, 2014

LIZ CIANCONE: Valentine’s more fun when we were young

Liz Ciancone
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — I, for one, am glad that it’s over and I have a year before I’m asked to buy a goodie for my valentine.

Somehow Valentine’s Day is no longer the fun I remember from my grade school days when we counted our valentines and sent to friends we especially liked. I especially remember the big day when I was in fifth grade.

About February first, Miss Hoadley brought a large cardboard box into the classroom along with a supply of crepe paper and tissue paper in shades of pink to red, and some white, too. When we had plowed through homework in arithmetic or penmanship (yes, we were learning cursive writing), we could approach the box and make it our valentine mailbox — a confection of hearts we had cut from construction paper in art class and pastel fluff.

It really was a thing of beauty to us and, once finished to our satisfaction, we could begin to fill it with the valentines we had carefully selected and addressed at home and in secret.

Choosing the perfect valentine for our friends was a serious thing for us. They were inexpensive, but the messages were subtly different and we were particular that each message be one we wanted to send.

On the big day a couple of classmates were designated as our mailmen who delivered our haul to our desk.

Some of us got heaps of envelopes and some only a few. I suppose that is why, when our sons were in grade school, they were asked to send a valentine to each member of their classes. At least Miss Hoadley remembered us all. Her valentine included a cinnamon lollipop.

We counted our cards and noted who sent them. It was that fifth-grade year I received a valentine from Bobby Miller, my big crush that year. I was thrilled, but embarrassed.

The day seems to have slipped to just another commercial opportunity. Flowers or candy no longer seem to cut it, and the “perfect” gift haunts many a valentine donor. Personally, I’d rather settle for a hug and a kiss and a lot more often than just once a year.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Her column has appeared on this page for more than 20 years. Send email to