“Hiya Soldier! Gee, you’re BIG and BRAVE and BOLD . . . I hope that being in the DRAFT didn’t make MY MAN GROW COLD!”
These classic words grace a valentine that Martha Phillips Sprenger sent to her first husband, Jack Phillips, when he was stationed at Fort Wheeler, Ga., in the early 1940s.
This valentine and many more are part of the latest display at the Akron Public Library, which will be up throughout February.
“The oldest valentine is from 1940,” said JoSandra Jammerthal, whose collection covers three decades. “My mother (Martha) sent it to my dad when she was 20 years old, four months before they were married.”
Later, in 1942 or 1943, Jack Phillips sent Martha a beautiful valentine from Fort Wheeler and signed it “GI Jack.”
He was listed as missing in action in France in July of 1944 on the way to Paris, then reported killed. He is buried near there, in or at St. James, in the Brittany American Cemetery.
“There is a poignancy in the knowing that when my parents exchanged those valentines, they had so little time together,” said Jammerthal. “It’s just nice to have tangible mementos. I don’t have any memories of my real dad because I was just a baby when he was killed.”
Some of JoSandra’s own valentines are also part of the collection — some from neighbors and former classmates in the Hoyt School District, and one from her teacher, May Lewison, who gave her a Valentine in 1951.
The display also features intricate, hand-crafted valentine cut-outs that Martha Sprenger created using special scissors, as well as valentine handkerchiefs, candy boxes, and figurines. Martha is now 92 years old and a resident at the Akron Care Center.
Martha married Bud Sprenger in 1947. Bud liked to give candy as valentines, and examples of his vintage boxes are also part of the display.
“I really don’t collect Valentine’s,” Jammerthal told The Akron Hometowner. “My mother saved them so I owe them all to her.”
Ten years ago, Jammerthal also displayed valentines in the library’s February display. However, this new display is a whole different set.
“I have so many,” said Jammerthal.
One of her favorites is of a boy and girl sitting on opposite ends of a settee with the boy asking “Why do you sit so far away?”
“If I had to pick a favorite though, it would really be hard,” she said, adding her husband, the late Harold “Bud” Jammerthal wasn’t a giver of Valentine cards but he gave her lots of candy. “I wish now that I had kept some of the boxes.”
Jammerthal will be passing out some valentines this year as the Akron Care Center has valentine bags for the residents.