A Valentine for Joe Hoover


Joe Hoover was my first date. He had big brown eyes, a gentle smile, and a quick sense of humor. We were ten years old and had been devoted friends since 2nd grade. So it was pure happiness for me when, a few days before Valentine’s Day, he asked me to go to the Saturday matinee with him on February 14th. The old green Scera Theater was within walking distance, admission was only 25 cents, and there were double-seats on each aisle, where two people could sit together, perhaps with an arm around the shoulder, and enjoy the double features. My anticipation for this first date was sweet.

Saturday morning arrived, and I spent the whole morning getting ready. I took a bath, Mom fixed my hair, and I picked out a red sweater and red plaid pleated skirt for the event. All ready, and then I began to wait for noon to come. My aunt arrived and spent quite a bit of time teasing me about going on a first date at age ten. I watched out the window and waited, and waited. He didn’t come.

By 1:00, I had given up hope and knew he wouldn’t show up. I was definitely disappointed, but amazingly philosophical for a 10-year-old. I remember knowing that there must have been a good reason for Joe to stand me up, and I remember feeling very special that I had been asked in the first place. It seemed like a fairy tale, too good to come true.

The Valentine’s Day tradition in my neighborhood in those days was to deliver our valentines by stealth to the front doors of our friends. As soon as it started getting dark, we would take our cards to the friend’s front porch, ring the doorbell, drop the card on the doormat and run like crazy. I delivered my valentines and was back home when our doorbell rang. I was monitoring the deliveries and remember the huge envelope sitting on the doormat when I opened the door. It was, of course, from Joe. Written on the valentine was a heartfelt apology and explanation. He hadn’t told his Mom that he had a “date,” and when his cousins arrived suddenly, she wouldn’t let him leave. So, family obligations kept him home.

He never asked me out again. It probably took all the courage he could muster to deliver that Valentine to me. When summer came, my family moved and I never saw Joe again. Many years later, when my son was four years old, I read a newspaper article about some Boy Scouts stranded by an early snow in the rugged back country of the Uintah Mountains of eastern Utah. They were having to wait for the weather to warm up before hiking out, but were running low on food. Volunteers in a small plane flew over their location and dropped food and supplies to help them wait out the cold snap, but then, sadly, they crashed into one of those mountain peaks. Joe Hoover was on that plane.

So there is never a Valentine’s Day that I don’t think of Joe. He is vivid in my memory and will always hold a very special place in my heart.

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One thought on “A Valentine for Joe Hoover

  1. lc

    I loved your Valelntine story. My eyes were wet when I finished. What a nice way to bring Joe Hoover back into your life.

    Writing about your book friends brought so many memories and so many feelings. At times my thoughts quite carried me away. My earliest memory of books was in my early pre-school years living on a dry farm in Northern Utah. My grandmother, with my beloved aunt, visited us at the farm. A visit was so special living far away from neighbors. The most exciting part of grandmother’s visit was when she opened her suitcase. We stood around her watching eagerly. We knew there was something for us. Right on top were beautiful little books for each one of us. Mostly I remember the bright-colored covers.

    Thinking about book friends, I have to include authors. Jane Austen comes to mind immediately, a long time favorite writer. Ellizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy are part of my life. So many others come to mind. A Fondness for Reading made me
    realize the time books and book friends saved my life. During a difficult loss of a dear one, and a long and painful grieving
    period, books rescued me. The days were painfully long, but when I turned to reading those days became shorter. I could look forward to reading when my work was finished. Doris Kearns Goodwin became a favorite writer of history. Her
    FRANKLIN AND ELEANOR: THE HOME FRONT IN WORLD WAR II made them special friends, especially since that period was a powerful part of my life. One time I heard Eleanor speak at the Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah. I have so many
    book friends. More than I can bring in here.

    When I meet with two of my close friends we ask each other about family and then the question is always: What are you reading?
    Face to face we share our most recent reading.

    Like

    Reply

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