Since I didn’t come to Holmes School until the fourth grade, I don’t know how Valentine’s Day was celebrated in kindergarten through third grade. But in fourth grade through sixth, our class always had a party around 2 o’clock.

The books were closed and cards were exchanged. Everyone received a card from every other class member, and it seemed that all of the students had at least one secret admirer.

The identity of the admirer did remain a secret.

After the card exchange, the two room mothers would bring out the pink cupcakes and the vanilla ice cream. And we would eat and talk and try to learn the identity of our secret admirer until the end of the school day at 3:30.

Valentine’s Day was also celebrated at my house. The family would eat supper in the dining room and, for dessert, we would have a pink cake and cherry ice cream. even if the 4th of February fell during the week.

My uncle and aunt, who lived in Chicago and worked in the Loop, would come to celebrate with us. We exchanged cards after supper. Even my Uncle Gene, the Humphrey Bogart type, would participate and enjoy every minute of it, trying hard not to lose his image.

I don’t know how the day is celebrated in schools or in homes today, but I do remember the enjoyment I experienced on those Valentine’s Days of long ago.

John Stanger, a Dear Old Oak Parker, is a 1957 graduate of Oak Park and River Forest High School and a lifelong resident of the village. He is married, has three grown children, and is an English professor at Elmhurst College. Living 2 miles from where he grew up, he hasn’t gotten far in 69 years.

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