Orene (Hardman) Wetherall's valentine cards
Orene Hardman sent, received, and collected some very elaborate valentines. After marrying Bill Wetherall, she sent him at least two handmade valentines, one in 1939, before the start of the Second World War in Europe, and the other in 1942, right after the start of the Pacific War.
The valentines Orene saved from teens and early twenties, when she was Orene Hardman, are mostly manufactured cards that showcase the most elaborate contemporary designs, of complexities rearely seen today.
Valentines in my school days was a two-way affair. In principle, a boy would give a valentine to a girl he liked, or girls if he liked several, even to a female teacher. It was practically mandatory that a son give a valentine to his mother. Girls, too, were free to give valentines to boys they liked, and mothers would give valentines to their children.
To be continued.
Late 1920s - early 1930s
Orene Hardman's schoolday valentine cards
14 February 1939
Handmade booklet valentine card
Dating this handmade card is a problem. It was preserved in its original envelope, addressed to "William Wetherall / Room 409 -- Post Office Buldg. / San Francisco, Calif". It bears a single 3-cent purple Thomas Jefferson regular postage stamp first issued on 16 June 1938 in the presidential series.
The stamp bears a simple concentric oval cancellation mark with "SAN FRANCISCO / CA [ L. ]" in the space between the ovals, and a "J" in the center -- a hand cancellation with no date. However, the date is clarified in the poem, which states "T'was the year '39, in month number two".
14 February 1942
Pacific War valentine card
Two months after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States declared war on Japan, Orene Wetherall, anticipating wartime austerities, cut some hearts from a contemporary newspaper, stitched them together, and wrote a funny verse to her husband of 4-1/2 years. Their son, this writer, was going on 11 months old.
The hearts were not happhazardly snipped from a newspaper. In the manner of a seamstress who is careful to cut fabric so that patterns align at seams, Orene clipped the hearts so that the columns were vertical, and balanced left and right -- and, moreover, they were about the war.
The articles featured on the front cover of the valentine are from the 6 February 1942 edition of The San Francisco Examiner, an evening paper.
The 1-column article on the left of the cover, a 6 February Associated Press report from Bern, Switzerland, begins "Germans are grumbling about reverses in Russia and because they are short of coal and potatoes, Hitler's own Propaganda Minister, Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, admitted today in the Nazi Journal Das Reich.
The 2-column article in the center, by International News Service staff correspondent Kingsbury Smith, datelined Washington, Feb. 6, leads with "The United States today formally assured the Government of Erie that the presence of American expeditionary forces in northern Ireland does not constitute any menace to southern Ireland." Apparently some Irish nationalists feared that Britain, with the help of U.S. troops, would attempt to take the southern part of the partitioned isles.
The 1-column article to the right reports "Freighter Cynthia Olsen of S.F. Torpedoed Dec. 7; Crew of 35 Now Given Up as Lost". The fate of the San Francisco vessel had been confirmed "yesterday" (5 February).
The most conspicuous letter to the editor on the back cover, headlined "Let Soldiers Speak", is a plea to "Let those that are fighting in the first-line of democracy speak" -- referring to the movement to allow "our boys . . . on land, on sea, and in the air" to vote in the next election on a proposed liquor law that, if passed, would result in the country going "dry" again. What red-blooded American soldier, sailor, or flier would vote for a boozeless military?