Valentine Memories from the Third Grade at Columbus Powell Elementary School in 1952

Jay Prater, a frequent contributor to my Yesteryear articles, wrote me saying that he had diligently searched for his Duncan yo-yo after reading the Red Shield Boys’ Club article last week on the History/Heritage page. So far, he has not located it, but won’t stop looking for it. Today’s column deals with Valentine’s Day.

The W. Maple Street lover of downtown Johnson City history further noted that he uncovered some vintage Valentine cards several months ago, but it just came to his mind this week that it might be appropriate for a Valentine’s Day column. I think many readers will readily identify with these valentines. I remember exchanging them during my formative years while I was at Henry Johnson School in the early 1950s. I only wish I had saved mine like Jay did.

Each year on February 14th, many people exchange cards, candy, gifts, special meals or flowers with their special valentine. The day of romance that we call Valentine’s Day is named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century, but has origins in the Roman holiday Lupercalia.

The above photograph collage contains 30 valentines that Prater saved from third grade students at Columbus Powell School in 1952. The cards were signed by students and given to their classmates. Although a number of the cards were signed with the student’s first and last names, some contained only the first or last one. Some signatures were on the front of the cards; others were on the back. Jay was able to supply the missing part of the name in several instances. Those missing are flagged by a question mark:

Marcia ?, Phillip Mitchell, Freddie Lee, Janice Harmon, Carolyn Woodby, Lenna ?, Martha Harne, Brenda Spain, Pete (?), Jean Ann Senter, Bobby Crum, Sandra ?, Beth Ann Wallace, Frank (?), Bonnie Lee Fisher, ? Tipton, Kenneth ?, Alma ?, Gary Hoilman, Helen ?, Phyllis Arnett, Kyle ?, Teddy Young, James S. ?, Bob ?, Jimmy ?, Leroy Wood, Miss Thomas, Mrs. Moody and finally, according to Prader, “the proverbial anonymous heart-stopper signed only with ‘I Love You’  and all words underlined.”

I remember a few students from the list as I too attended the third grade in 1952. One in particular, Jean Ann Senter, transferred to Henry Johnson School. I recall her being in my 6th grade class under Miss Sophia Boring. Others were in Science Hill High Schools class of 1961: Bonnie Lee Fisher (father was manager of the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. in the 1950s and 60s), Brenda Spain and Phyllis Arnett.

Prater said the third grade teacher at Columbus Powell was Miss Anna Thomas. He noted that she passed away just a couple years ago. He further stated that she and his mother became close friends up until “their graduation into Glory.” The school principal was Mr. Leland.

If you were in Miss Thomas’ class in 1952 or perhaps know someone who was and can supply a student’s first or last name, I would like to hear from you. Thank you, Jay for sharing your cards with us.

Happy Valentine’s Day, folks.