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South Texas Living

A lifetime of valentine memories

A lifetime of valentine memories
First valentine from Julia’s Aunt Librada, 1937

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Julia Castro
Apple Pie and Salsa
February 19, 2014
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By the time this story is published, another Valentine’s Day will be history. This may not be interesting to some of you, but I believe there are many who will remember a lot of the people that I mention.

I have Mamá to thank for saving the very first valentine that I received. It was from her sister, my Tia Librada. It has the year 1937 on the back by her signature. Since I was born in April of 1933 that would make me not quite 4 years old at the time. Mamá was good at saving things.

Then I started saving the ones that my sisters Tabita and Rebecca gave me from 1940 to 1945. I have two from my cousin Alicia Pacheco from 1940 and 1941. From 1942 I have valentines from Tommie Alderette and her sister Bittie, from Mary Jane Cisneros, Mary Lou Travieso, and my teacher, Mrs. Canfield. Also one from my cousin Estela Chavez. (She passed away recently and I didn’t find out about it until afterwards.)

I have some valentines from my nephew Raul “El Prieto” and my nieces Lola, Gloria, and Lillie. And one from another nephew, Rudy (Elizondo). That one is hand-drawn and colored and dated 1943. I have two or three from my cousins Jessiel and Nereo Pacheco, who were also classmates.

From 1943 to 1947, I have quite a collection because I kept getting from the same classmates year after year. I have valentines from Ann Garland, Nell Frances Baker, Marvin Forister, Ruby Taylor, Margaret Villa, A.O. Payne, Mary Ann Vincik, Matt Tipton, Katie Lou Hoover, Jeanne Russell, Benita Trevino, Lupe Gonzales, Katy Sanchez, Mary Lou Martinez, Susie Herrera, Theresa Marroquin, and Barbara Carson. Also from Mary Ximenez, a good friend, and Pablo Martinez, a neighbor. Funny, but besides Pablo I never received a valentine from any of the “Mexican” boys. Unless -- unless, one of them gave me the unsigned valentine in the fourth grade. It was different from all the others, like for someone older than a fourth-grader. That year the boys that could have given it to me were Reynaldo Rodriguez, Lupe Nieto, or Tony Ramirez. I have always wondered who gave it to me -- and I kept it all these years.

I almost forgot one from 1943 signed Sister Villa (my cousin and Sunday school teacher). The last valentines that I put in that scrapbook were one from my sister Tabita’s two oldest children, Ray Jr. and Beverly Ann Reed. And one from my brother, Doroteo. He signed it “Little Frank.” He didn’t put a date on it but it had to have been after he got back from the war, World War II.

I have a lot more valentines that my kids, grandkids, and some friends have given me through the years but I keep them in boxes.

Years ago, Henry’s Aunt Mila, who raised him, gave me four of Henry’s valentines that were given to him when he was little. One is addressed to “Little Henry” and signed, “your beloved friend Hortense.” She was one of Mila’s friends. Another one is from his Uncle Chris. The other two are from classmates from Sacred Heart School. One is signed Maria Dolores Zuñiga and the other one is signed “to Henry C. (Castro) from Henry B. (Baumann).”

As for valentines from Henry? Not any. One year when we were going steady he gave me a music box that played “Peg O My Heart.” My name certainly wasn’t Peg, but it was the thought that counted.

And after we were married, our anniversary is the day after Valentine’s Day and last year I shared with you some of the gifts he has given me.

I forgot to mention about all the valentines given to me from my Head Start kids throughout the years.

Julia Castro, a retired Head Start teacher and mother of 10, lives in Floresville with her husband, Henry. Her email is

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