Tahlequah Daily Press

February 6, 2014

Victorian valentines: Heritage Center to offer monthly hands-on history family program

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Got a valentine in mind?

Visitors to Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center Saturday will get a chance to make their own Victorian-era themed statements of love with the museum’s staff and volunteers.

The event is part of the museum’s monthly hands-on history family program. It begins at 1 p.m. and is free with the cost of admission.

A centerpiece of Saturday’s hands-on event will be the creation of cards for St. Valentine’s Day.

“We’re going to set up lace, ribbons, card stock, all kinds of craft materials,” said museum assistant Sarah Owens.

She and other staff members at the museum spent Thursday setting up in preparation. Owens put together a case with early 20th century artifacts that might give attendees some ideas about how their cards should look.

“These are some Valentine’s Day cards from our archives, and a lot of them I noticed are from the early 1900s,” she said, pointing out one with a 1915 postmark.

The monthly hands-on history programs are designed to let families experience — first-hand — the tools, materials and lifestyle experienced by settlers who pioneered this part of the country. Saturday is no different.

“We’re trying to keep that Victorian-era mode whenever we do the crafts, and present materials for the kids to create their own valentine cards,” Owens said. “The most significant aspect of this Family Saturday, though, is that history will be, once again, our backdrop in celebrating the romantic holiday.”

Valentines back then certainly were different than the ones available now.

“The first thing that came to my mind was, today you see a whole lot of cartoon characters and big, bright colors. But then you don’t see a lot of ornate and tiny details. Like these are really decorative,” Owens said, carefully handling a nearly 100-year old valentine with a sad-looking boy and his dog. “These are really heartfelt — ‘Oh, why isn’t she always here?’ Even the puppy dog’s sad. It gets straight to the point.”

From 1 to 3 p.m., the museum also will offer cookies and punch. There will be a gift table with period-style soaps, colognes, fans and other novelties. Staff will dress in living history outfits to round out the experience.

Owens said making your own valentine is more personal than just buying a box at the store.

“Maybe next year the parents would be inspired to help the kids two or three weeks in advance make individual cards for every kid in their class,” she added.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday. Its next event is a Brown Bag Lunch & Learn with Dr. Michael Hightower. There also will be a “Caring for Family Treasures” exhibit Feb. 18-22 and a workshop on Feb. 21.