Romantics remember favorite Valentines

Thursday, February 14, 2002

When Charles, Duke of Orleans, scribbled rhymed love letters to his wife in France while being held prisoner in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, little did he know he actually created one of the first valentines.

Today, cards, flowers, and more will be exchanged by cupids of all ages -- all in the name of St. Valentine.

Even Bob Koeppel is headed for the flower and card shop. Koeppel, of Cape Girardeau, admitted he's not noted for buying sentimental valentine cards or flowers. This year, though, his wife Jessie is recuperating from hip surgery. "I'm making an exception," he said. "My wife will get flowers this year."

Bettie Heist said she's always been able to bank on a Valentine's Day gift from her husband, Leonard. But it wasn't until last year that she received her "most unforgettable" gift, she said.

"In past years, he always gave me a valentine and a box of candy. But in 2001, he came up with something different: a red valentine bear. That's the first time he got me a stuffed animal. I thought that was nice. I'm not apt to forget it."

Glenn Sparkman also remembers a fuzzy valentine. "I was four years old," said Sparkman of Cape Girardeau. "I really didn't know much about valentines, but my father dropped a puppy in my lap and said, 'Happy Valentine's Day.'"

Sparkman and his dog, a collie, were buddies for a number of years.

Lois Unfer loves the hearts and flowers sentiment of Valentine's Day. "I always got valentines from my late husband. Now I get them from my three grandchildren and great-grandchild."

Her most memorable valentine, though, "was one sent to me by my future husband just as we were thinking of getting married," she said.

And, in the true nature of Hallmark, Raymond Wolfangel of the Cape Girardeau area customized one of his valentines. "I never thought much about giving valentines," said Wolfangel. "But once I saw a card that would fit my sister. I marked out some of the wording and added words of my own. She liked it."

Now showing

One of Cape Girardeau's old big screens was a big mystery for a lot of readers.

Many people identified the Broadway Theater as the Orpheum Theater, which was located on Good Hope Street. The Broadway, of course, was (and still is) on Broadway.

The Broadway and Orpheum were only two of many theaters to thrive in Cape Girardeau. Such names as Skydome, Aladdin, Dreamland, Fox, Hippodrome, Grand and Princess were among the listings.

The old Karmelkorn Shop, which occupied the small shop to the left of the theater, was an identifying feature of the photo, said many of those who correctly identified the Broadway.

"We used to stop at the Karmelkorn Shop as children," said Virginia Heckrotte, who was familiar with both the Broadway and the Orpheum theaters.

"I used to watch Tarzan at the Broadway and cowboy movies and serials at the Orpheum," she said. "I liked Tarzan. Everybody liked Tarzan."

At the time, Johnny Weissmueller played the role of Tarzan and Johnny Sheffield played "Boy," Tarzan's son.

"I remember when Sheffield came to Cape Girardeau," said Heckrotte. "He was about 11, and he rode on an elephant here."

Turns out Sheffield was in Cape Girardeau in July 1942 to headline the "A Tank for a Yank" fund-raising campaign. His visit headlined Cape Girardeau's first big war bond and stamp rally of World War II.

Area people turned out in force, and when the two-day rally was over, the city had raised $27,000 to purchase an Army tank.

A question answered

Rosalee Beckel of Cape Girardeau has answered the question of what was going on in a crowd photograph that ran in an earlier edition of this page.

"I have a large picture like the one in the paper," said Beckel. "I knew I had seen this picture before and kept looking until I found it."

The crowd had gathered at Lorberg Furniture on Good Hope Street. Lorberg was conducting a special promotion, said Beckel, who added that the company was giving away a player piano.

The "Where is it?" photograph on Monday's page was of a 1927 flood scene, well before the floodwall. The shot was south from Independence Street toward the old Frisco Terminal Station, which was later torn down.

Flooding in downtown Cape Girardeau was a common occurrence before the construction of the floodwall in the late 1950s.

Among the most devastating floods prior to the dedication of the floodwall in 1964 were 1943, 1947 and 1951, when the water covered Spanish Street at Independence.

B. Ray Owen is community news editor for the Southeast Missourian.

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