Saturday, February 14, 2015

Teatime Tale #7 - A Friendly Valentine

A Friendly Valentine

            Elizabeth Pinson’s third graders couldn’t wait for their Valentine’s Day party to begin on that Thursday in 1952.
            The children had been preparing for more than a week. They’d colored dozens of hearts and paper lace doilies to adorn the walls. Most of the hearts were pink and red, but Timmy Wilson colored his green. Timmy never did like to play by the rules.
            Room mothers had dropped by all week, asking Miss Pinson if she needed help with the party and whether she had enough treats promised.
            As always, there would be plenty with enough left over to feed another classroom or two. So far, the mothers were bringing iced sugar cookies, brownies, potato chips, peanuts, pimiento cheese finger sandwiches, and a sheet cake from Butterfield’s Grocery Store. Lucy Butterfield was in the class this year, and Mrs. Butterfield donated fancy sheet cakes from her husband’s store at every opportunity.
            On Wednesday, the children had decorated paper bags to hold their Valentines. While Miss Pinson usually tried to see that the bags looked similar, this year she let the children decorate the bags however they liked. She’d read an article about the importance of letting students show their individuality.
            The girls drew hearts and flowers on theirs, and some of the boys took the liberty of drawing their favorite cartoon characters, including Howdy Doody and Joe Palooka.
            Miss Pinson hoped the day would be fun, but mostly she hoped that the handsome new P.E. teacher, Walter Elliott, would pay her a visit. He’d been dropping by a lot lately to deliver messages from the office or ask her opinion about a student. Was it just her imagination or was Walter angling for a date? At 23, Miss Pinson was starting to feel like a spinster. Secretly, she hoped for a little male attention this Valentine’s Day.
            The children had placed Valentine cards in their paper bags first thing that morning. After lunch, it was time to open them all. There were loads of Valentines. Miss Pinson always purchased extras to make sure no child was left out. Some, she signed “Your Secret Admirer” or “Guess who?” The children always loved thinking they had a secret admirer. A few boys said “Yuck!” when they opened those cards, but then Miss Pinson would see them looking around the classroom as if trying to guess the identity of the secret admirer.
            The hour for the party arrived, and the treats poured in. The Butterfield sheet cake was a pink and red masterpiece. Thick strands of red icing spelled “Happy Valentine’s Day,” and pink shell-shaped icing trimmed the borders of the cake. Miss Pinson was glad the party was held near the end of the school day. These children would be buzzing with sugar before the afternoon was over.
            She planned to take a piece of cake home with her for her afternoon teatime. Miss Pinson loved tea, something all the children knew about her. She even kept a pretty pink teacup on her desk. It held the stray pencil erasers and marbles she often picked up after class.
            As room mothers hovered near the food table, there was a knock at the door. Miss Pinson asked Timmy to answer it.
            “It’s Mr. Elliott,” he said.
            She walked over to the door.
            “Hi, Walter,” she said, lowering her voice so the children wouldn’t hear her addressing him by his first name.
            “Hi, Elizabeth,” he said. “Listen, uh, well … here.” He thrust a heart-shaped pink satin box at her. “I heard you tell one of the other teachers that you like chocolate and, well, I wanted you to have some.”
            “That’s thoughtful of you, Walter,” she said.
            “And …”
            “I was wondering … would you like to have dinner with me tomorrow night?”
            “I’d love to,” she said, smiling. A tug at her skirt from Timmy brought her back to reality. He nodded at the tall woman beside him.
            “Miss Pinson, the children want you to open your gift from the class now,” said one of the room mothers volunteering at the party.
            “Of course. I’ll be right there,” she said.
            “Listen, thanks, Walter. And—“
            “I know. You’ve got to get back,” he said. “I’ll pick you up at seven tomorrow night, okay?”
            “Okay,” she said. “I’ll look forward to it.”
            In the classroom, the room mothers whispered. Miss Pinson could tell they were eager to watch her open a special gift from the class.
            “I know what it is,” teased Lucy Butterfield.
            “Well, I don’t,” Miss Pinson said, grinning as she tore into the gaily wrapped package. She opened the box and pulled out a beautiful pink teapot that exactly matched the teacup on her desk. “I love it,” she said, holding it up for the class to admire. She thanked everyone profusely before the mothers and students headed off, the party over.
            Most of the students had gone home for the day when, around three thirty, Timmy Wilson walked up to her desk.
            “I forgot to give you this,” he said, handing her a small white envelope and quickly scooting off.
            “Thanks, Timmy,” she called out, hoping he’d heard her.
            She opened the envelope and pulled out one of the loveliest Valentines she had ever received. It showed a bouquet of flowers in a teacup with a heart on it. “A Friendly Valentine,” it read. Inside it said simply, "Love, Timmy."
            She had received a surprise box of chocolates from Walter and now a surprise Valentine from Timmy. Miss Pinson couldn’t help thinking that Cupid had been very, very good to her that year.
            With a small slice of Butterfield sheet cake wrapped in foil and tucked carefully in her pocketbook, Miss Pinson turned out the classroom light and headed home.
            It was almost time for tea.


  1. What a sweet story! Happy Valentine's Day, Angela!

  2. A very sweet Valentine's story!

  3. Delightful, with happy endings for all.
    Happy Valentine's Day Angela.

  4. A perfect little story for Valentine's Day! Hubby brought my morning coffee and we sat in bed while I read it aloud. He wanted it to continue! Hmmm, I think our tradition for the year might be tea instead of coffee on Saturday mornings when we read Teatime Tales.

    Thank you for the very thoughtful gift you give us every week. Happy Valentine's Day.

  5. So sweet! I would love to hear more about Elizabeth and Walter and Timmy. I hope you will publish your collection of tea tales in a book someday.

  6. Oh this is AWESOME! It's made me so HAPPY inside. I was THERE. I saw the people, the place, the sounds and smells. What a delightful story, indeed, Angela! Thank you once again, my dear!

    I, too would love to hear more about these characters. I already CARE about them! : - )


  7. Oh I could imagine sitting in that class room decorating my bag for Valentine's. Nice story!

  8. This is such a sweet Valentine story. You always leave me wanting to know more about the characters. Thank you.

  9. I was in elementary school in the 50's and you pretty much described how our Valentine's Day party went back then. Ah, the memories!

  10. Oh so sweet for our Valentine treat! Adorable little Timmy knowing his teacher loved tea gave her the perfect Valentine card and so sweetly handing it to her - I can just picture how precious that moment was. Your stories come to life! Happy Valentine's Day to you!

  11. I love this story Angela, it is so sweet.* Through your writing, I was transported back in time to second grade, when Valentine Day cards were so carefully selected for Craig, James, and Robert....

    Oh how much simpler it was, way back then, the cakes and candies, the fruit punch, carefully ladled out by Mrs. Herring, the anticipation of it all. I just love your stories, Angela! Hope your Valentine's Weekend was extra romantic, wishing you all the best always, Joanie

    *ps: I first read your story over the weekend on my tablet but for some reason, my comment would not go through (something must have been up with Charter at the time!) Anyhow, I love your Saturday series and look forward to it. By the way, the beautiful "Vintage Tea Party" book arrived Tuesday - it is beautiful! And the sweet card with the Yogi Rasberry tea - delicious! What a sweet treat!

    Thank you so very, very much - you are Awesome.


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