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Valentine’s Day By Lorraine B. Carter

February is the month when people show their love in a materialistic manner. Boxes of candy, stuffed animals, and figurines will leave shop keepers with empty shelves because men and women will be gifting these items, along with boxes of candy to the people they love. Valentine cards will weigh the mail persons down with devoted words of unending love and exuberance, comparing the beloved to Angels on high.

After February ends, many will go back to hard work, career pursuits and forgetting to call elderly parents and maintaining the love they so heartedly proclaimed just a few weeks ago to eternal Lover’s. It does not mean our declarations of love was insincere, it means not only are we a wealthy Nation, but we shared the wealth of our souls at least in February. We are a busy people; we sometimes forget, which reminds me of a Valentine’s Day many years ago when I was forgotten.

I was a student at McKinley Grade School in Peoria, Illinois. In those days, there were only a handful of black children attending McKinley. I was in the sixth grade, soon to graduate to the seventh. Well, I was a new girl of sorts, coming from another school that past summer. As I neared the school, I got off my bicycle in front of a neighborhood “Mom and Pop” grocery store on Second Street and went in. (I could hear the voice of my teacher, “You can exchange Valentines tomorrow.”) I reached into my pocket and pulled out my nickel. I asked the clerk for Valentine’s cards and placed my nickel on the counter. She told me they cost a penny a piece. I picked five cards; each one had a rhyme on it, like, “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Sugar is sweet and so are you.” I bought five different little cards, left the store, jumped on my bicycle speeding off to school. The school was near, so I did not have far to go. I parked my bike and was in my classroom in a flash. (I was somewhat of a softball star at the school, and I could move fast.)

After a while, it was time to pass out cards; the kids were stirring around the room (My best friend was absent due to caring for her bedridden mother), but nobody came to me with a card. I gave my five cards to my favorite classmates and waited for someone to bring me a card. School was about over when this cute boy brought me one. (I had been forgotten, but he remembered me.) The card read, “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Sugar is sweet and so are you.” His face was red as a beet with embarrassment, and I was embarrassed too, but because I had been forgotten!

I was happy someone had thought of me. I kept that card until I turned into an adult. When life would get a little tough, and I felt sorry for myself, I would go to my shoebox of collected childhood memories and press his card to my chest! It seemed to strengthen me and bring back my self-confidence!

Remember, there will be somebody thinking of you at any given time. I wish everybody a Happy Valentine Day!