Of Valentines, games and winters

Doesn’t the thought of this being Valentine’s Day make you feel just a bit happier? With a little song in your heart? It’s a day when nothing more is expected of you than to give a bit of happines with a smile or a telephone call to friends and a Valentine or a thoughtful gift to a sweetheart or parent.

We were in Plain City over the weekend and our 8-year-old granddaughter Maggie was making a Valentine’s Day box, with the aid of her Aunt Margaret, who is an artistic whiz. She dug through every closet and shelf space in the house and finally found a box that had once housed an American Girl doll that she thought would be appropriate.

There was one problem, though. It stood vertical, and she wanted it to be horizontal, so it was turned sideways, and the lid trimmed down to fit inside. It was a lot of work to get the lid to fit just right, but Margaret did it. She then proceeded to explain her plan for the decorations on top of the pink box.

I didn’t know what a Shopkins was before but saw her bring out an armful of little 1-inch plastic fruits, veggies, people, animals and such. These were then attached to the box with a hot glue gun.

Actually, Maggie held the toy while her aunt manipulated the hot glue gun. Then a box cutter was used, by Margaret, because Maggie would be quite dangerous in using it. This was for the slot to slide in those precious Valentines. She had hinted that a certain boy might give her a box of chocolates that needed to fit inside, so the slot needed to be wide enough.

The sides were decorated with red and white doilies with various colored hearts on top and pasted to the box. Then pink stick-on hearts were applied – each with a letter to spell out her name. I am sure that she toted this to school with great pride.


We had traveled to Darin’s to see both of the grandchildren play in their own grade group basketball game. Jackson’s was first, but Missy and I did not get there early enough in the morning to see the players be announced and run through a smoke-filled tunnel to the playing area. This was for an Upwards Team where they stress Christian principles and sportsmanship.

Maggie played in the afternoon at Plain City Elementary School, where there are leagues starting with kindergarten. Her team had players of all sizes for the second-grade team. It is so precious to see them earnestly running around guarding, dribbling and shooting. I’m sure I am bragging when I say tht Maggie made eight points, but they do not keep score. It is a noncompetitive atmosphere.

There at Plain City Elementary, we came across Jason Saiter, son of Corky and Judy Saiter of Smithfield, and his son, Henry, there to play with his team. Also, I saw a little blonde guy with the name McCain on the back of his jersey and asked Darin if that was Dan McCain’s son. It was, and I stopped for a second to say “hi” to dad, who I remember being 6 or 7 years old and playing on our Spartans team. Dan is the son of Chris and Tom McCain of Smithfield, and they travel to see the games each weekend. We use them to keep track of Magie’s playing as we do not get up there to see them often.


I always get excited when one of my Boomers stories connects with a Herald-Star reader. For instance, the Harperville story came to the attention of Marlyn Hartzell Klee. Her dad was Ned Hartzell, and they lived on a farm on Briar Ridge and went down over the hill to the Company Store to buy needed supplies frequently.

She said that Lucy Brake Stinard, mentioned as a school teacher in the story, grew up with the Hartzell children at their farmhouse and later became a teacher there.

Marlyn told an interesting story about Lucy, who was given the exact change for a pound of yeast for making bread by her mother. When she got to the store, she saw that the price had been raised by one penny, so she did not have enough money.

Being the bright future school teacher that she was, she said to the store keeper, “I’ll have 15 ounces of yeast.” He inquired why, and she replied she did not have the extra penny for the last ounce of yeast. For all her efforts, he gave her a full pound.

Later her mother went to the store and told the shop keeper that she owed him a penny, and he replied, “No, Mrs. Hartzell, you don’t. That child gave me such delight that day, and it is enough payment.”


The McCoy family got in the act for the “Operation Veterans” project that was sponsored by the Chambers and James Funeral Homes in Wellsburg and Follansbee. This project offered area residents a chance to show their support to troops serving abroad by making Valentines, and it was great fun. Actually thinking up something that would inspire a young man who is far from home was the hardest part. Many simply said, “Thank you for your service” for lack of better sentiment.

Lamont even got in on the fun. Mark Law of the newsroom staff delivered them to Follansbee for me, as I did not have a car that day. I thought he could drop them off while traveling home from work, but he was concerned he would miss the 4 p.m. closing time and made a special trip. Here is hoping that Mr. Valentine leaves him a nice heart-shaped box of pierogies today. Thanks, Mark.


Lamont and I attended the Jefferson County Farm Bureau membership kickoff and dinner at Murray’s Restaurant. It was nice to see John Grafton, the bee man; Michael Watkins, the young man who agreed to serve as a chairman on the membership committee with Corky Saiter; Mark and Lee Clark, (he told me to use Lee’s given name but it is in a notebook at work;) Jeanne Roberts, one of the hardest workers for membership; and my school buddy, Irene Sabo, and her daughter, Lisa Cline. I see them all the time during the summer, though.

Michele Specht has a four-time role in Farm Bureau, as she is the organizational director of the Jefferson, Harrison, Carroll and Tuscarawas counties. She can get the members enthused about the contest in a special way.

There was a contest with members bringing an antique from the farming industry, home use or play time. There was a hand wringer that was a real convenience to the housewives many years back, a 1911 copy of Ladies Home Journal magazine, a metal plate and a huge, multi-colored marble that would win any game.


Since Smithfield made the news as the top town for snowfall this past week, I am writing this from home. It is beautiful, but it sure doesn’t look inviting on the roads. We had to expect this sooner or later. After all, it is winter.

We had some robins who were confused last Monday when it was milder in the morning. There were 10 or 12 – they kept moving so I couldn’t do an accurate count, in our back yard, scampering around like it was spring.