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Local nonagenarian treasures
valentine cards and memories

[View the cards]

[FEB. 14, 2002]  The period is the 1890s and the valentine verse reads:

How I love, none can tell,

Dearest, let me tell thee so;

Cherish neither doubt or fear,

Trust me thou alone art dear.

Scrawled in pencil on the back are the words: "Pleas give this to your little Friend Miss Dasey as I don’t know her other name."

The recipient’s daughter laughs at the singular love expressed for a person barely known. "We didn’t pay much attention to what (valentines) said," explains Edith Norman Lawrence, who has lived at the Christian Village in Lincoln since 1994. "If we thought they were pretty, we bought them."

[Photos by Lynn Shearer Spellman]

Lawrence, usually called Edie now, is 91, and the valentine recipient was her mother, Daisy Swartz Norman, born in 1883. A native of Chicago who moved to Lincoln from Hinsdale, Lawrence treasures a collection of about 100 antique valentine cards, most given to her or her mother. They range from 2½ to 11 inches tall, and many of the older, Victorian ones have multiple overlays of lace paper, satin flowers and glossy cutouts. Cherubs and angels, floral bouquets, romantic scenes and chubby-cheeked children abound.

Lawrence remembers a friend’s receiving a satin-topped valentine so large she thought it was a box of candy. That came from a boyfriend, but many of the sentimental cards were sent from one girl to another. In fact, Edie Lawrence recalls that up to about seventh-grade she and her friends sent valentines mostly to girlfriends. "We didn’t grow up quite as fast in those days as the kids do now," she explained.

She has valentine postcards with 1 and 2 cents postage and envelopes with 2 and 4 cents, but many valentines were hand-delivered. They were always signed on the back so as not to mar the beautiful card. Those placed in the valentine box at school named recipient as well as sender.

Lawrence recalls an ornate valentine box in each classroom. Some of her class’s most beautiful boxes were made by her maternal grandmother, Frances Marian Collings Swartz, an artist who painted china plates as well as landscapes and portraits in water colors or oils.

To ensure that each child received at least one valentine, the teacher had students draw names and give to the child they drew. Of course, they were free to give to as many other children as they wanted. Lawrence said her mother made her give to everyone, "but other mothers weren’t that fussy."

Lawrence met her own valentine, her husband, Dick, at a high-school reunion the Christmas following her graduation. She and her friends found the party dull, with no one paying attention to them, and were about to leave when she saw a man with dark brown eyes smiling at her. Her friends left but she stayed, danced with Dick Lawence and enjoyed the rest of the party with him and his friend Art Wiehe, whom she vaguely knew. Neither man owned a car, so they escorted her home on the bus.

Christmas week passed with no phone call. "I was just crushed," Edie Lawrence remembers. It turned out that Dick, a recent Ohio State graduate, had just begun a job at Western Electric and was flat broke. He spent the Christmas holidays with Wiehe’s family and then called Edie in time for New Year’s Eve. Within a few months she had an engagement ring.

Lawrence’s daughter, Nancy Gehlbach of rural Lincoln, recalls that her mother’s valentines to her father were always funny; his to her were always mushy and often accompanied by a pretty nightgown. "He was a very sentimental man, really," Edie Lawrence confirms.

  After Dick’s death on Feb. 3, 1983, Edie found that year’s valentine, already bought and signed, in her walk-in closet.




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Gehlbach recalls that her mother always made a big deal about decorating for Valentine’s Day as well as other holidays. One year Nancy was forbidden to enter the dining room for about an hour ahead of time. Of course, this prohibition doubled her anticipation. The valentine cake was usually angel food with white frosting decorated with red cinnamon hearts. Heart doilies and glowing candles gave a festive look.

Lawrence said she sends valentines to Nancy and to her son, Norman Lawrence of Aurora, and her five grandchildren. She especially enjoys choosing cards for great-grandchildren Emma Gehlbach, Tyler Knudson, and Hannah and Hayden Kovarik. She has sent funny and sweet valentines but never sent or received the nasty kind.

Gehlbach, who is researcher and writer for local history newsletter Our Times, has studied the development of valentine cards in America. She confirmed that comic valentines, some of which were "venomous and cruel," accounted for half the sales by 1847. Their average price, however, was less than for the "sentimentals." Some were so cruel that they were sent unsigned.

A Feb. 13, 1906 article in the Lincoln Times-Courier reported that the price of the "homely creations" — in other words, the nasty valentines — had fallen from two for a nickel to one or two for a penny. The article continued: "Their decline in favor has been equally marked as their decline in price, few people sending them this year unless they send them in fun to people whom they know will take them in the spirit they are sent."

Gehlbach said there were distinct changes in valentines around 1850 and again at the beginning of the 20th century. The earliest valentines were handmade, but by mid-19th century many were lithographed and then colored by hand. Often a space was left for an original message, and books were published to help in composing appropriate sentiments.

The first American to run an assembly line of card-makers was Esther Howland, who received an English valentine in 1847 and set out to make similar ones. According to Gehlbach, Howland began with "blanks," or lace-edged or embossed folders from England. The center of some blanks was cut out and replaced with satin or silk. On others the center was painted, or a picture or mirror was glued there. Howland had different friends doing each job.

Gehlbach said later valentines incorporated German-made pictures of flowers, birds or other decorative subjects. Many were built in layers, with folded strips of paper to make the additions stand out from the blank.

In the early 20th century the lace overlays began to disappear. Increasingly important were novelties such as paper fans, hanging valentines with multiple sections suspended by string, and cards with built-in stands for display. Honeycomb valentines were flat for mailing but opened out into three-dimensional hearts, bells and other shapes. Lawrence has three of the honeycomb variety. "We thought those were very special," she commented.

One large manufacturer of early valentines was George C. Whitney. In 1915, according to Gehlbach’s sources, Whitney valentines ranged from $1 to $50 in price. By the late 1920s the more expensive designs had been eliminated and all the cards cost less than $5.

The smaller Whitney valentines in Lawrence’s collection are about 4 inches tall, often heart-shaped and featuring chubby-cheeked children. One depicts a toddler girl chasing a butterfly. There are no lace overlays or other attachments. The verse, centered to fit the middle of the heart shape, reads:

If by chance you love me

Next time you see me, smile!

I’ve waited long to find this out

And still I’ll wait awhile.

[Lynn Shearer Spellman]

Animals for Adoption

At Logan County Animal Control — 
Big to little, most these dogs will make wonderful lifelong companions when you take them home and provide solid, steady training, grooming and general care. Get educated about what you choose. If you give them the time and care they need, you will be rewarded with much more than you gave them. They are entertaining, fun, comforting, and will lift you up for days on end.

Be prepared to take the necessary time when you bring home a puppy, kitten, dog, cat or any other pet, and you will be blessed.

[Logan County Animal Control is thankful for pet supplies donated by individuals and Wal-Mart.]  

Warden Sheila Farmer and her assistant, Polly Farmer,
look forward to assisting you.

[A Labrador-Rottweiler mix puppy,
8 weeks old, is looking for a good home.]

[This beagle-corgi mix is a very loving female,
9 months old.  She has a very sweet personality.]

[This Labrador-husky mix puppy would feel
right at home on your farm. She is 7 weeks old.]

[Sissy is a German shepherd, 6 years old.
She’s housebroken and ready to come home with you.]

[This mixed breed is a 9-year-old lady looking for a good home.
She is very sweet and would make a very good family pet.]

Corn Crib Restauraunt at Latham
East of Lincoln on Rt 121
10:30am - 9pm Tues -- Thurs
10:30am - 10pm Fri and Sat
Closed Sun and Mon
(217) 674-3440


is the place to advertise

Call (217) 732-7443
or e-mail

Our staff offers more than 25 years of experience in the automotive industry.

Greyhound Lube

At the corner of Woodlawn and Business 55

No Appointments Necessary

Ten reasons to adopt a shelter dog

 1.  I'll bring out your playful side!

 2.  I'll lend an ear to your troubles.

 3.   I'll keep you fit and trim.

 4.   We'll look out for each other.

 5.   We'll sniff out fun together!

 6.   I'll keep you right on schedule.

 7.   I'll love you with all my heart.

 8.   We'll have a tail-waggin' good time!

 9.   We'll snuggle on a quiet evening.

10.   We'll be best friends always.

[Logan County Animal Control is thankful for pet supplies donated by individuals and Wal-Mart.]  

Warden Sheila Farmer and her assistant, Polly Farmer, look forward to assisting you.

In the cat section there are a number of wonderful cats to choose from. There are a variety of colors and sizes.

Farm cats available for free!


No cat pictures are available at this time.


These animals and more are available to good homes from the Logan County Animal Control at 1515 N. Kickapoo, phone 735-3232.

Fees for animal adoption: dogs, $60/male, $65/female; cats, $35/male, $44/female. The fees include neutering and spaying.

Logan County Animal Control's hours of operation:

Sunday    closed

Monday  –  8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Tuesday  –  8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Wednesday    8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Thursday  –  8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Friday  –  8 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Saturday  –  closed

Warden: Sheila Farmer
Assistant:  Polly Farmer
In-house veterinarian:  Dr. Lester Thomson

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