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Last modified: Thursday, February 6, 2003

Notes for Valentine's Day

Do I want it to sound funny? Or romantic? Should I send one to all of my friends and loved ones? Or just to that special someone? We're talking about that time-tested letter of love -- the Valentine's Day card. The Lilly Library, IUB's home for rare books, manuscripts and special collections, offers a glimpse into the history of this modern tradition in the online exhibition, "A Flowering of Affection: Victorian Valentine Cards at the Lilly Library." Designed and written by IUB Public Services Librarian Erika Dowell, the exhibition includes a selection of 19th-century Valentine's Day cards, from the sentimental to the comic. "The quality of the cards was as variable as the themes they represented," Dowell writes. "Though the dominant theme for Valentines would always be love, comic and even insulting Valentines were also common." Take, for instance, the un-Hallmark-like card that features an illustration of a woman rejecting her suitor in a rather chilly fashion (with a bucket of cold water!). It reads, "Here's a pretty cool reception, At least you'll say there's no deception, It says as plain as it can say, Old fellow you'd best stop away." To view the exhibit online, visit Dowell can be reached at 812-855-2452 or

Valentine's Day can create stress in a relationship, according to Robert Billingham, a professor of human development at IUB. "Valentine's Day should be a reflection of a relationship between two people, but it has become over-marketed to the point where if a gift doesn't match expectations, it can really create stress in a relationship," he said. Billingham, who has more than 20 years of teaching and research experience in marriage and family relationships, said it also is easy to overspend on Valentine's Day. "One of the biggest mistakes -- usually made by men -- is to overspend the relationship. If the couple is newly together, giving expensive jewelry as a gift may actually scare the other person away. Gifts can send a very strong message, and one that is easily misinterpreted. For example, giving a nice gift in believing it will lead to sexual intimacy is something done too often by men and usually with disastrous results," he said. Billingham can be reached at 812-855-5208 or

Flowers. Chocolate. Jewelry. REO Speedwagon? "Where would we be without rock and roll and pop music to express our true feelings toward one another?" asks IU School of Music Professor Glenn Gass, author of the nation's first for-credit course on the history of rock and roll. Gass is a confessed giver of that uniquely romantic Valentine's Day gift -- the "mix" tape. What love-struck man or woman hasn't spent hours, maybe days, compiling the perfect mix tape (or, in 2003-speak, the burned CD) of love songs for his or her sweetheart? Where have all the flowers -- and chocolate -- gone? "I think everybody who loves music has made mix tapes for girlfriends or for their wedding, because these songs say what we feel," Gass said. "I think that's the great power of music. It's more direct than words even, and it goes right to the soul." It's a good bet that Gass' ultimate mix tape would include a few Beatles tunes. Since 1982, Gass, author of the textbook A History of Rock and Roll, has offered an in-depth course on the music, lives and times of the Fab Four. No word, though, on whether his mix tape would include REO Speedwagon's 1980s smash "Keep on Loving You." Gass can be reached at 812-855-9460 or To view some of Gass' favorite rock and roll memories, visit