There were plenty of smiles and heart cookies eaten at the Jasper County Community Center as Lelah Main of the Jasper County Historical Society talked about the history of Valentine’s Day.
She discussed various card styles for Valentine’s Day, including a picture of a giant cat with a heart from the 1960s.
“My mother passed away at 98, and she went to auctions,” Lelah said. “She didn’t collect them (Valentine’s Day cards), but they were found at her house.”
One topic that received a lot of attention was the valentines that the attendees received in school. Many remembered the typical shoebox that was decorated and the many cards they received from classmates.
She asked the crowd, “Who has a valentine to share?”
Raymond Brown jokingly said, “I have one, but I am not going to share it.”
Everybody laughed at his comment, which was fitting following what was distributed after.
Main brought out pictures from a booklet series from the turn of the century called “Penny Dreadful.” The pictures were very crude, sexist and racist — but that was the point. They were meant to make fun of a more independent woman.
“Women were changing,” Main said. “They were starting to smoke and go out.”
There were plenty of laughs going around the room as pictures of big-nosed and oddly dressed women were passed around. One attendee described them as “horrible.” After the history lesson, guests were treated to heart-shaped cookies.
“The cookies were really good,” Brown said. “It (the presentation) was really interesting. She was trying to give me hints on what I was supposed to do.”
Main said that her mother had so many items that she held an estate sale for six days. The reason she kept so much was because of a sale.
Her mother would buy something in a box at a garage sale that only had one item of interest, Main said. The Valentine’s Day cards were kept in an attic, and she never knew that she had that many.
Her mother was also a mail carrier and often received valentine cards over the years.
Main’s mother also lived through many hardships in America. She made it through World War I and World War II, and The Great Depression. Many people who lived through that often hold onto things.
The Valentine’s Day presentation was made possible by a program called Older, Wiser, Livelier Seniors, or O.W.L.S., and it was hosted by the Jasper County Conservation Board and Jasper County Elderly Nutrition.
O.W.L.S. started in 2008, and the program has been a success.
“It was a program that other counties had in place, so we thought we would try it out here,” Jasper County Naturalist Katie Cantu said. “We are happy to have it in Jasper County. We have a variety of activities.”
In the past, they hosted backyard bird feeding and fresh evergreen centerpieces demonstrations.
She was happy to have Main as a guest speaker.
“She told us that she though everyone in the county had seen her program, but we still had a good turnout,” Cantu jokingly said.
Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.