The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 10, 2006


Carlisleans recall "love in bloom" on Valentine's Day

A Concord shop window displays a variety of Valentine's Day treats for the romantically inclined. (Photo by Rik Pierce)

In honor of Valentine's Day, February 14, which falls next Tuesday, the Mosquito placed calls to folks around town to ask the following question. "Can you tell us the story of a favorite valentine you have received or one you have sent? Or do you have a favorite memory of Valentine's Day that you would like to share?"

Some of the people we spoke with don't do anything special for Valentine's Day. Rik Pierce of Westford Street e-mailed: Oh, Marilyn, we never did valentines and I can't think of anything cute. I tried to steal something from Google but they only had history stories and fairy stories. I'm sorry I failed you, but you can publish this if you think it'll work." Others had interesting stories to tell.

Tom Raftery of Concord Street. Every year we give cards in my family. There was one year when Grant Wilson, Ed Heald and I were skiing out in Utah and we remembered that the next day was Valentine's Day. There was no time to get cards to send home to our wives so we made arrangements for flowers to be sent. The next morning Jan called to thank me and to say how sweet it was of me to send her flowers. However, when the wives met later in the day and found out that the flowers, the greetings and the cards were all the same...well they weren't quite so impressed.

John Ballantine of Fiske Street. My first valentine? My first real valentine? Do I remember it? Absolutely: February 14, 1961, right after first period walking down the brown linoleum hallway on my way to math class, section 7N, set theory for seventh graders, new math at Witherspoon School. Polly Smock gave Peter Starbuck, one of my best friends, an envelope in the hall as we walked to class. He gave it to me.

Back then, we did not really talk to girls. Maybe in class, or maybe your sister and her friends. Of course, we talked about them, tried to impress, draw attention, went to dances, and acted like fools. Real cool, you know. But real conversations — not in 1961. What would you talk about?

"I want to be your Valentine! Will you be mine?" A heart, an arrow through it, in red. Lorraine, did she really sign her name or did somebody just tell one of the boys, "Lorraine likes John, really likes him?" Of course, I had been looking at Lorraine since fifth grade, thinking about her, biking past her house, hoping to see her out of school, meet her at the soda fountain. I watched her cheerlead, I played every sport, we went to parties together, never danced, but looked. The valentine exchange that February 14th morning sealed our romance. We were an item, "going steady?" I was supposed to call, ask Lorraine for a date, meet her at the movies on Saturday with the whole gang, pay for her ticket, sit together and hold hands. Neck in the back row. Almost every Saturday, spring 1961.

Yes, I remember that first Valentine.

Julia Krapf of Ice Pond Road. Back in the '80s when my husband Alex and I were dating, he and I and my roommate went out to dinner one evening. We went to a Japanese restaurant in Boston where we had been before, but this evening it was hard to get a table and we wondered why. We looked around and noticed that there were many more tables for two, and all of sudden we realized it was Valentine's Day. It had snuck up on us.

It should be mentioned here that Alex had grown up in Germany where they didn't celebrate Valentine's Day.

Marjorie Johnson of Ember Lane. Back in 1976 my husband-to-be Lenny and I were students at MIT [both had grown up and met in Winchester]. The previous year Lenny had bought me flowers for Valentine's Day, but I had found aphids all over them that he had not noticed. Trying to think of something else to do that year [1976], he gave me a handmade card. It was clever and sweet, and I still have it.

I was a physics major, taking a class titled Introduction to Electronics, for non-electrical engineering students. As part of the class I was learning to make circuits using op-amps (operational amplifiers). These devices take a small signal and amplify it so it is the same, but larger. Lenny, an electrical engineering major, used the idea for his card. On the front of the card he drew an op-amp circuit with the input signal, "Happy Valentine's Day" written in tiny letters. When I opened the card, there was the amplified message, "Happy Valentine's Day" written in huge letters surrounded by lightning bolts. I loved it.

Ellen Miller of Indian Hill Road. When we were living in Belmont just before moving to Carlisle, my husband went to the CVS in Belmont Center to buy me my yearly box of Whitman's Sampler chocolates. Next door to the CVS is a frame shop, where a large framed painting of some geese next to a broken-down shack caught his eye. He bought it and never got to the CVS. That painting hung over my fireplace for years, and I never told him I would have preferred the Whitman's Sampler.

Peter Chelton of Old North Road. My wife Laura and I like to go out to dinner on Valentine's Day. Each year we keep our eyes out for a new and interesting restaurant where we can sit down to a quiet dinner together. Last year we had dinner at Dalya's in Bedford. We liked it so much, we are thinking of going there again this year.

Phyllis Zinicola of Sunset Road. Being an essentially shy and private person (translation: having no good Valentine's Day stories of my own), I asked my friend and co-worker George Curtis (an avid Mosquito-on-line fan) to complete Marilyn's assignment. Here is George's submission.

"I took an informal poll around the office about memorable Valentine's Days, thinking that amid the sea of desks and cubicles would be lurking a latter-day

Heathcliff or Cathy, willing to share a tale of romance or a Bronte-like romp on the moors. The first person I asked, a man by the way, immediately remembered the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Not an auspicious beginning. Even Bronte's imagination would have been stymied by Al Capone and Bugs Moran. After all, a warehouse in Chicago is hardly a suitable substitute for a windswept moor when it comes to romance. Not for a woman, anyway. So I moved on to the opposite sex, hoping that at least I would get a pathetic story about forgetfulness or indifference, more to the point of the Hallmark holiday. The first woman got a dreamy look in her eye and refused to give details, the second started drooling about Belgian chocolates, and the third got teary about somebody named Benny she had a crush on in the seventh grade. Wouldn't you rather hear about what really happened in the warehouse on North Church Street on February 14, 1929?"

Seriously, I think setting aside special days to honor important people or events is vital, even if these days are manufactured by greeting card companies. But consider the vows my husband and I took at our wedding: to make each day a celebration. Corny, I admit, but it still puts a twinkle in my eye.

Trisha Reed of Russell Street. I have had lots of notable celebrations with my husband on Valentine's Day. Most people think of Valentine's Day as a dating day but I think of it as a family holiday. I carry on the tradition of what my mother did on Valentine's Day when I was growing up in Pennsylvania. She would have a special dinner with heart placemats, a heart cake and handmade cards. My father would place a special gift at each place setting on the table.

As we grew up a plethora of cards were exchanged with all members of the family, even until this day with my parents, my brothers and their children.

Priscilla Stevens of Maple Street. A number of years back, thinking February 14 would be a great opportunity to shed light and love on the darkness of the season, my husband and I threw a Valentine's Day party and invited several couples to come over for a dessert-and-savory buffet. We hired a former drama student of mine who had gone on to become a pianist to sit at the piano all night so that we could stand around singing (howling?) love songs from the 1940s, drinking pink champagne and nibbling on sweets and savories that were pink- and red-themed. The catch was that everyone had to come dressed as famous lovers.

Surprisingly, all our invitees replied that they would be there, and on the evening in question, some real celebrity couples walked through our door: Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, Han Solo and Princess Leia, Antony and Cleopatra, the Duke and Duchess of

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito