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Valentines flood post office, sell out from stores

This week in history

115 years ago, 1907

Taken directly from the Youngstown Vindicator:

“Many thousands of Valentines burdened the mails this morning.

“It is estimated that 10,000 Valentines will be sent through the mails today (Thursday), which is being generally observed throughout this big land as St. Valentine’s Day.

“All morning Thursday, the man at the stamp window was kept busy selling stickers for Valentines. And even as early as Wednesday night, the stamp man was rushed almost to death.

“Most of the stores which handle Valentines did an exceptionally brisk business. Some sold out their entire stock of Valentine cards as early as Wednesday afternoon. At the 5 and 10 cent store, the Valentine counter has been lined up for several days with Valentine purchasers.

“And all this Valentine sentiment has made a lot of work for employees of the Youngstown post office and its branches. One clerk has been doing nothing else but handling Valentines at the main office. They were piled up around him on all sides Thursday. Many of the boxes and envelopes containing Valentines were opened in accordance with instructions from the post office department. This was done to see if there were any violations of postal laws relative to enclosing written matter in unscaled packages, sent at a merchandise or second class rate.

“Out of the 10,000 Valentines sent, only about 80 were found to be outside the regulations of the government. In some cases, writing was enclosed. In many others, the postage was insufficient to carry the packages. Therefore, the sender, if the name can be ascertained, will be asked to send more stamps. If not, the person to whom the package is addressed will be notified to send stamps for its transportation. If these are not forwarded, the package will be sent to the dead letter office.

“Most of the Valentines sent this year are of the sentimental kind containing nice verses which bespeak of St. Valentine’s greeting. Few of the slanderous kind, consisting of a mean, insulting verse, with a distorted likeness of the recipient, were mailed out.

“Foreigners as well as Americans sent Valentines this year. The new arrivals are showing a great interest in the special observances of this country and are entering into the spirit of them with a vim.”

105 years ago, 1917

The area’s fire stations were busier than normal as eight fires broke out in and around Youngstown in less than 13 hours. The fires put a great strain on local fire departments which were already hampered by the below-zero temperatures.

The firefighters looked like “walking cakes of ice” and “every step made was with great effort and accompanied with the crackling and jingling of the ice covered garments.”

Onlookers built bonfires to help warm the workers while Jack Sarkles opened his father’s grocery store to supply hot coffee. Nat Cohen offered the men gloves from Cohen’s store and several businesses opened to let the men thaw by their stoves and heaters.

• Compiled from the archives of The Vindicator by Traci Manning, Mahoning Valley Historical Society curator of education.

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