Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy (Vintage) Valentine's Day

When my grandmother Mary died a number of years ago, I traveled to Bismarck, North Dakota, with my parents for memorial services and to clean out the modest apartment where she lived for many years. My grandmother lived on her own until she passed away in her mid-nineties, taking pride in her ability to remain independent. She had help from a social service agency, from her friend Marion (and others), and from her grand-daughter Amy. She remained active, energetic, and strong-willed, helping others, going to church, and making gifts of handmade baby booties, afghans, slippers, and quilts. She liked to tell stories when visitors came around for coffee.

One of the things we found was a shoe box filled with valentines from the late 40s and early 50s. Most had been given by relatives and friends to Mary's son David when he was a little boy. Simple and colorful, with corny sentiments abounding, they have a kind of graphic charm. (Warhol might have changed the scale to make large silk screened canvases.) I like the ingenious die cuts; very few are square or folded. These are the kinds of cards that were put into decorated cardboard classroom shoe boxes; many are signed by young friends. There's a profusion of quotation marks, at every "hint" of a metaphor.

We offer reproductions of these at Bloomingfoods at this time of year, as a benefit for Area 10 Agency on Aging, an organization offering support services to the elderly and their caregivers. These cover the walls of the stores with good wishes, sent out in the names of ones who are loved; I always buy one or two in memory of my grandmother. Here are just a few.


Joyce said...

Such a great ongoing memorial to Grandma Mary! Thank you, elena~

elena said...

Happy Valentine's Day, Mom and Dad!