Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine memories

In 1955, my family moved into the home where my mother still lives. It was at that time a working class, blue collar neighborhood almost entirely composed of young families with small children (the products of the Baby Boom). My mother would have been the only college educated woman in the neighborhood, a former school teacher. Unlike the other mothers who wanted their children out of the house so that they could clean and watch soaps, my mother encouraged the neighborhood children to gather at our (never very clean) house.

She taught all the children of the neighborhood games to play (Red Rover, Simon Says, Red light/Green light, Poor Pussy, Duck-Duck-Goose) and supervised the play; she encouraged arts and crafts and allowed children to run in and out of the house at will. At the time, I thought these were games she'd played growing up. It wasn't until decades later that I realized these were things she'd learned in her teaching courses in college or read about in novels, and that her own childhood had very few games (or other children) in it.

Our first year in the neighborhood, my mother started a Valentine's day tradition of exchanging Valentine's within the neighborhood, with children scurrying about before light, hiding from each other, to drop cards at each others front doors.

She did this by inviting the other children into our home for valentine-making craft activities, providing cut paper doilies, and red construction paper. While we cut and pasted she told about Valentine's traditions, which now I realize she had never practiced, only read about.

From 1956 to 1963 all the children in the neighborhood, exchanged Valentine's in this way. By 1964 the older girls in the neighborhood had reached high school, and were too "grown up" for the practice so it died out.


Anonymous said...

What a lovely memory. What a wonderful mother!! Lucky you!

Gwen said...

That's an awesome story!