“St. Valentine’s day, like Christmas, comes once a year,” said the Omaha Daily Bee on February 15, 1891. “To the children it is a day of merriment. The old folks care naught for the day of caricatures and very bad poetry, and business men and city officials, as a rule, have placed in a handy position to their desks the largest waste basket they can afford.”
The “caricatures and very bad poetry” referred to by the Bee, adorned the comic valentines popular during this era. “The average recipient . . . hurriedly consigns them to the waste basket with a few italicized sulphuric remarks,” and public officials were no exception. “In his rounds of yesterday a few of these valentines, which were more or less mutilated, were rescued by a reporter for THE BEE from waste-baskets, desks and carpets which would have otherwise passed into oblivion and been secreted from the gaze of the general public.”
Omaha mayor Richard Cushing received a “basket full” of such valentines, some with original verse. One example:
Here’s hoping, dear Dick, that good fortune
May attend you the next year to come.
When all the town will acknowledge,
From a bishop way down to a bum,
That your term was a pathway of roses-
Your government naught but perfection:
Then the gang will commence counting noses,
And boodle-for your re-election.
Each Omaha City Council member reportedly received the following:
Eighteen merry little chumps,
Sober once a week;
We may look tired occasionally,
But then we never sleep.
We would not a-boodling go,
Because we then would see
Our records on the big front page
Of THE OMAHA DAILY BEE.
Even the Omaha city boiler inspector did not escape. He was honored with the terse missive:
You have the face of a boiler,
The hair of a fire,
The nose of a mule,
And they say you’re a liar.
The Bee reported that Omaha city clerk Frank Moores “got one from every member of the Douglas county bar. . . . An effort was made to print some of them but they were so tropical in nature that ordinary copper type melted before them.”
Richard C. Cushing, mayor of Omaha in 1891, was the recipient of comic valentines critical of his administration. NSHS RG2141.PH0-8
Cupid flies an airplane in this valentine postcard from the Nebraska State Historical Society collections. NSHS 9424-204