Valentine’s Day is swiftly approaching. The holiday is notorious for flowers, candy, overstuffed teddy bears and many unhappy singles around the world. The couples live within their own world full of strongly scented flowers as the singles watch the romance unfold or use the holiday as a chance to celebrate their hatred for love.
It is safe to assume that in the year of 2014, the routine will be no different. But has it always been this way? Maybe it is time to revisit the ghost of Valentine’s past.
Reviewing the Maryville College Highland Echo archives can offer a window to Valentine’s celebrations from decades ago. The majority of references to this day of love center, understandably, around gossip. February issues contain many short reports regarding the state of affairs.
Pam was able to wait to open her Valentine even though she received it four days early, and some Carnegie residents managed to get their hands on much coveted chocolate boxes during wartime shortages in the 1940’s, are just a few of many examples of these reports.
Maryville College held a few small parties and dances throughout the years, but nothing notable was mentioned until an issue from Feb. 9, 1963. “No Valentine? Buy a Junior!” the title to the article boldly proclaims. A quick skim of the article reveals that the juniors were planning a fundraiser that involved auctioning off each member of the junior class on Valentine’s Day. It seems that the juniors of ’63 had the perfect solution to the predicament of singles.
Some of the purchased juniors’ duties included but were not limited to, “carrying books, ironing up to three shirts, polishing shoes, mending, general errands and slave-like duties.” The article expresses the hope that students will purchase slaves of the opposite sex but this being said, it emphasizes that “services asked of the slaves must be kept within reason.” No extremes or personal boundaries were to be crossed. A slave cannot carry you across campus.
So, how much did a day of services cost? A mere 25 cents. It would be nice to think that our services would be worth a little more in the present day. Despite the seemingly low price point, the junior class seemed overall excited for the upcoming fundraiser and supported the slogan, “If nobody will be your Valentine, a Junior will be your slave!”
A later issue of the Echo provided a follow up to the junior’s fundraising endeavor. One hundred and twenty juniors were sold, raising around $30. While some were tasked with difficult chores, there was mostly a consensus that the project was a success, and they even planned a party to celebrate the accomplishment. One servant did complain, however, that his owner seemed to think that the idea was to “kill a junior,” rather than just buy one.
Perhaps MC should think of reinstating a similar fundraiser for any lonely hearts out there, though surely the cost of a day’s labor will cost more than 25 cents. There is no reason a servant shouldn’t serve as a good, almost equal, substitute for a significant other. If you cannot have love, you may as well have someone do your chores while you eat your pint of ice cream. Maybe they can cook you dinner, too, or at least bring you Taco Bell.