Valentine’s Day


From: Orlin Brommer

Valentine was a thin, big-boned retired farmer. His wife, the parish priest, and the workers at the Post Office called him Valentine. To the rest of us, in our predominately German community, he was Volly, pronounced “Folly” by some of us.

When he walked down to the grocery store you could hear him coming from quite a distance. He had a unique way of popping leaves that he had plucked from shade trees along the way. He would make a circle with his left thumb and forefinger. He would then lay an elm leaf flat on the circled fingers and smack the leaf with his other cupped hand. The leaf would make a loud popping sound resembling a crack of a rifle. He loved to teach all the children in town his noisy trick.If an elm leaf was unavailable he would substitute with whatever was available

He gave all the neighboring children small wooden containers that he had turned on his lathe. Some of these cups had a lid, many were cracked, and all were crude. Each was a gift, sincerely given, therefore special. They sat on shelves and in cupboards holding shiny precious treasures of the youngsters. After more then 60 years Pete Mueller still tosses his coins, and car keys, into one of Volly’s turnings whenever Pete empties his pockets.

I remember going to Valentine’s shop with an old pine 2x4, and asking him to turn me a baseball bat on his machine. Reluctantly he did the best he could with that poor piece of material. Although none of my ball-playing friends used this bat, I did because he had taken time to make me this personalized Littleville Slugger. I wish I could tell you that it had magical powers, but it had none. It was too light, too thin, and was flat on two sides, so it was eventually discarded.

Few if any in our tiny town think of him on February 14. I am sure he never sent any cards to his special gal, Lizzy. He was too gangly to be mistaken for cupid, and spent his youth working too hard to learn to shoot a bow and arrow. But a relaxing retirement, following years of subsistence farming, made every one of his retirement days — Valentine’s Day.


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