HAPPY VALENTINES DAY
When my father died I received a shabby cardboard box filled with years of research on his family history. Over the years he visited small town courthouses and libraries and made copies of documents. He collected newspaper articles, old letters and photos. I have carted this box around over the past 8 years, through 4 moves to 4 different states. I have rummaged through it a few times but am never sure what to do with it all. It holds the stories of strangers; of soldiers in the Civil War, southern plantation owners, pioneers out west, and struggling farmers. All these stories in bits and pieces, on scraps of paper and in faded handwriting.
This morning I remembered that there was a small collection of postcards belonging to my great great grandmother Miriam Goss. She was a woman who at the turn of the century had a homestead in New Mexico. I pulled them out and tried to decipher the delicate handwriting. I shared them with my daughter. My daughter, who shares my interest in things historical. My daughter, who wants to be Laura Ingalls. To our delight we found several Valentine cards. Most have funny little messages, snippets of a life so very different from ours.
"Will you go to my house and put out the cat and close the rain doors and water my chickens?"
"I know you are lonesome. Don't dry up and blow away. I am coming."
"Having pretty weather. Going to town today."
"Been fun walking around here. Got me a pretty dress .49cents."
"How are you. We are well. Dorothy is as fat as a pig."
These are not stories of passion and romance but of the the commonplace.
They are details of real life shared by people who loved each other.
We decided to decorate our table with them in honor of Valentines Day.
"If you will be my Valentine
We'll skip along together-
We'll not mind poverty or wealth,
The measles or the weather."