Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hoarding and Vintage Valentines

Members of my family have a history of holding on to things from their past, myself included.  Over the Christmas holidays, I had an opportunity to watch 'Hoarders,' that new reality program that looks at people who have a compulsion to save every thing.  As I watched in horror as clean-up crews uncovered dead animals under mountain high piles of trash, I told myself, "I'll never let myself get like that," and "I'm going to start throwing things out as soon as I get home," (we were in Omaha visiting Mark's family at the time) but here I am two months later and I still haven't begun to go through things or thrown anything out.  Now, don't get the wrong idea, we don't have mountains of trash littering our home, but our dining table does tend to get covered with junk mail that sits around for weeks and right now, as I sit in my small office, I am surrounded by piles of books, magazines, bills and receipts, CDs, DVDs, small boxes of miscellanea, old padded envelopes (that I intend to reuse) and . . . well, I think you get the idea - there is a lot of stuff.

If my father had lived alone, without the influence of my mother, I think he could have turned into a first-class hoarder.  I don't remember a time, during all of the years that I lived at home when we were able to park a car in our garage.  The reason? My father had filled it with stuff, from floor to ceiling, front to back, side to side (see the above photos).

I had planned this entry to be about vintage Valentines and I've gotten off track.  The reason that I started off talking about hoarding and saving old stuff is for the simple reason that I wouldn't have the following examples to show you if I hadn't held on to parts of my past.  Some of the cards shown below, may have even been found in some of the boxes stored in the above mentioned garage.

I have fond memories of how Valentine's Day was celebrated in our classroom when I was in the early years of elementary school.  You brought an empty brown paper lunch sack to school on that day.  At some point during the day, the teacher would take a break from regular classwork and tell us to put our empty sacks on our desk.  Then all of the students were allowed to get up from their seats and drop Valentines in to the bags of their classmates.  As I recall, it was a free-for-all, kids going up and down the aisles searching out the desks of their intended Valentines.  After all the cards had been given out, you were allowed a few minutes to look at the cards that had been put in your bag.  Of course, now when I look back at this practice, I realize that there were probably some kids who received very few cards in their bags and may have gone home feeling sad.  Not that I received tons, but lets just say that I was always satisfied with what I received.  I remember there were always a few kids in class who gave every one cards, and there were others like myself who, as I recall, only gave cards to the classmates that I really liked (or had secret crushes on).  I think one reason that I had to be selective was that my mother would only buy one package of Valentines for us to give out and that one package had to be split between myself and my brother and sister.  So I chose carefully who I would take aim at with my cupid's arrow.

Okay, that brings me to the Valentines themselves. There are some things that I think most people would probably agree were actually better in the good old days.  I think Valentines made for children are one of those things that were better in days gone by.  Today, if you look for Valentines for kids (and I'm speaking of packaged cards, not the individual Hallmark type of greeting card) all you will find are boxes of small rectangular cards with perforated edges that have popular characters on them - Spongebob, Batman, Disney Princesses, etc.  There are no longer any die-cut cards cut in the shapes of the animals they depict.  Gone are the cards depicting two anthropomorphized hot dogs holding hands (some people may think that is a good thing), no cute little monkeys in sailor suits riding very big bananas (get your mind out of the gutter), no ducks in hats, dazed bears or happy peacocks.  As far as packages of cards go, I haven't seen any that aren't tied into some sort of merchandising for a brand (Nickelodeon, Disney, DC Comics, Marvel).  Now I have nothing against using popular characters on Valentine cards, I actually find that phenomenon to be a fascinating part of pop culture, just like I find Christmas wrapping paper depicting Spiderman wearing a Santa's hat to be an interesting slice of American culture at this moment in time.  Later this week, I will share some of my contemporary kids' Valentines depicting merchandized characters, but for now, I hope you enjoy these vintage cards.

All of these cards were given to me when I was in elementary school, so they are at least 45 years old.  I'm 55 now and I think most of these cards were given to me during my first three years of school.

You can click on each of these cards to see them slightly larger.

and my personal favorite - 
What child wouldn't want to become a vegetarian after receiving this card?


  1. Thanks for posting these! Happy Valentine's Day!

  2. You're welcome. If you liked these, I posted some more this afternoon.