In honor of St. Valentine's Day, we bring you this 1893 story from the Knoxville Journal:
St. Valentine's Day
A Custom That Has Degenerated to a Feast For Fools
This is the day upon which all fools save the April fools exert themselves to show some smartness in their make-up.
All day yesterday and for several days past young fellows have been standing around show windows gazing at the display of alleged comic valentines. Presently a chap sees an over-drawn picture of a red nosed drunkard and having a friend whom he knows is in the habit of going on an occasional bat, he steps inside and squanders a penny. The man who knows a poker fiend [friend] squanders a penny also. Some of them send out the ugly valentines in a spirit of revenge, a kind of a way of sending anonymous letters. The old maid will be burdened and so will the society girl and the society young man.
The custom is an old one and has degenerated from a festival to a feast of fools.
However, hundreds and thousands of elegant valentines, some of them very costly, are sent by young men to their lady friends as a memento of the day. The show windows of the book, variety and confectionery stores have contained some elegant specimens of art rich and varied in design with suitable verses and sentiments printed thereon.
The rush at the post office commenced yesterday morning when thousands of the missives addressed to outside towns poured through the delivery windows. The mailing force were up to their ears in work all day and night.
This morning the trials and tribulations of the letter carriers will begin. If you see the carriers making the early delivery in four horse wagons, you need not be much surprised.
Valentines in the shape of crisp two dollar bank notes will be received at this office with thanks.
Knoxville Journal, 14 February 1893, page 5