On Friday, February 1, 1929, Mrs. Lillian told her pupils at the Lone Star East rural school, that we could exchange valentines on Thursday, February 14.
Being born in the Missouri Ozarks, this first grade pupil knew very little of the world outside her community. I was bashful. I would always stand behind Mother or Papa when we were in a crowd and I wouldn't talk.
We managed to survive during the depression. The drought had claimed the crops that year. Papa had had typhoid fever the past summer. Our family used their available money to buy feed for the cattle and hogs, flour, cornmeal, coffee for my parents, and cocoa for me. We had plenty of milk, butter, eggs, meat and lard, but our molasses barrel was almost empty. Anything else we needed, we had to do without.
On Wednesday, the day before valentine's day, Mrs. Lillian said, "Bring your valentines tomorrow to exchange."
That night, I asked Mother, "What is a valentine?"
Mother explained about the giving of valentines to your loved ones and to your friends. Then she asked, "Why do you want to know?"
"Tomorrow, the kids at school are to bring valentines."
"Oh!" Mother gasped. "Why didn't you tell me. I would have helped you make some valentines." She scolded me for not telling her.
It saddened me that I wouldn't have any to give to the other children.
As I left for school the next morning, Mother said, "Smile. You'll have some valentines."
Yes, I would get valentines, but I wouldn't be giving any.
About 2 o'clock in the afternoon of valentines' day, the teacher had the children to pass out their valentines.
Many of the kids asked, "Garnet, didn't you bring any valentines?"
Shame forced me to scoot downward in my seat. The other kids began to lay valentines on my desk for me. I didn't have any to give.
I kept my eyes downward. My insides shuddered. I could feel the blood pounding in my temples. My face felt hot. I wanted the floor to swallow me.
Suddenly, Mrs. Lillian said, "We have a visitor."
I felt too embarrassed to look.
The other kids turned to me and began punching me. "Garnet! Look. Your Mother."
I looked towards the door. It was Mother! She carried a box and a jug of something. She walked to my desk, handed me the box and asked, "Garnet, do you want to pass out your valentines?"
I looked into the box. Heart shaped cookies. No, they couldn't be cookies as Mother had no sugar to bake sweets. I looked again. The heart shapes were made from pie dough.
"Pass them out to the right kid." Mother said. "Each one has the pupil's initial on it."
I passed the pie-dough cookies around. Several of the kids said, "I want to eat mine, but I want to keep it too, 'cause it has my initial on it."
Ella, my classmate cried when she dropped her pie-dough cookie on the floor. She jerked it up, blew on it, put it into her mouth and ate it.
"Mrs. Hunt, this is the best valentine
I ever got." Many told Mother.
"Tastes good. Very good." Hobart, one of the older boys said. "I wish I had brought a bigger water cup to school." (In 1929, country school children brought their own drinking cups to school)
Lorene, a girl in the eighth grade asked Mother how she made the heart shaped valentines all the same size.
"I took a tin can and bent it into a heart shape by using a pair of pliers." Mother told her. (In our neighborhood nobody had cookie cutters; most women inverted a glass to cut cookies and biscuits)
Doris Lee asked, "How did you get the initials on the pie dough?"
Mother said she used the pointed end of a knife and lightly punched the initials in the dough.
Mrs. Lillian and the school kids clapped their hands for Mother. I was proud of her, too.
All the United States were in a depression, but that afternoon, Mother had changed a depressed little girl into a happy child.
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