One of the best “times’’ of the year

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You know, this is one of my favorite times of the year. That’s right, Valentime’s. I know, it’s spelled, and pronounced V-a-l-e-n-t-i-n-e, with an “N”, but it ought to be Valentime.

After all, that’s the way a kid says it.

I’ve always loved Valentime’s Day, especially when I was a kid in school. I remember Valentime’s in the first grade. I was Valentime King and my childhood sweetheart, Kathey Bell was Valentime Queen. We sat side by side on our thrones, with our paper crowns and presided over our subjects. It was magical.

Although that day was fun, getting ready for it was even better. For a whole week we would prepare for Valentime’s Day. Mrs. Gregory, our first grade teacher, had us kids makin’ all sorts of stuff to hang from the ceilin’, and on the wall.

There were hearts and red crepe paper streamers everywhere. We cut out the hearts ourselves, so some of them looked kind of lopsided, especially the ones the boys made.

We still hadn’t got the hang of using those little blunt nosed scissors we had. And of course, we had glued everything that needed glued with that jar of paste that also doubled for a mid-morning snack.

But the best things we made were those big heart pockets to hold all of the Valentimes.

You remember the heart pockets don’t you? We cut two big (I’m talkin’ about big) hearts out of heavy paper. Then we pasted the edges of the two bottoms together to form a pocket. We then got to decorate the heart anyway we wanted.

The girls would draw all sorts of little hearts and flowers and junk like that. Boys would draw anything that popped in their mind. Some had footballs, and baseballs.

A lot had war scenes. I remember mine had an U.S. Army tank shooting at a bunch of Nazis, while over head the Air Force was bombing the crud out of them.

Now-a-days, the teacher would probably report me to the principal. He in turn would have to report me to the school board, and they would vote to kick me out of school.

Then they’d send me to a shrink who would tell me that I was not a normal boy, because I didn’t draw something nice and pretty like the girls did. The next thing you’d know I’d be on Good Morning America with my mom being grilled by Katy Couric or whoever’s on Good Morning America now-a-days. And I thought it was tough bein’ a kid back then.

Anywho, the teacher would then tape the big heart pocket to the front of your desk. Then one by one, each kid would go up and down the rows putting a Valentime in each heart pocket.

That was Mrs. Gregory’s rule. Everybody got a Valentime, whether you liked them or not. I still feel funny when I think back about havin’ to put a Valentime in a boy’s heart pocket.

I mean, they all said just about the same thing, “Be my Valentime” and junk like that. But I guess when you’re in the first grade, you don’t think about stuff like that.

The part that was the hardest about getting ready for Valentime’s Day was fillin’ out all of those little cards. By fillin’ out, I mean writing your name on them, so whoever got it would know who gave it to them.

I know what you’re thinkin’, “What’s so hard about writin’ your name on a card?” Well, back then you had to write legibly. It was the law; that and the fact that you had to use a pencil the size of a fence post.

You know, I’ve never figured that out. They make a first grade kid, whose hands are little biddy, use a pencil that they have to prop on their shoulder like a baseball bat.

And don’t dare give a kid an ink pen. Why, they might get ink on themselves, heaven forbid. It’s true. The first three years of school, if we’d been seen with an ink pen in our hands there’s no tellin’ what might have happened to us.

Then, when you got in the fourth grade, you were a responsible person and you got to use an ink pen. And do you know what the first thing the kid did when he got the pen?

That’s right, he drew on himself.

Heck, until I was in the sixth grade, there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t have some kind of self drawn tattoo on my arms. They were worst lookin’ than prison tats. What was I talkin’ about anyway? Oh yeah, Valentime’s.

When the big day finally arrived and all the Valentimes had been delivered to the big heart pockets, we voted on who would be Valentime King and Queen. Well, I’ve already told you who won. Kathey Bell and I sat in our make shift thrones side by side and presided over the class.

Moms were there to take pictures and pass out cookies and Poly Pop (that’s what Kool-Aid was called back then). It was just like in a fairy tale, except we didn’t have an old witch tryin’ to eat us.

Anywho, this Valentime remember what Mrs. Gregory taught me. Everyone gets a Valentime, whether you like them or not, so here is yours. “Will you be my Valentime?”

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