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"How many young ladies who received valentines this year regarded them seriously?" inquired the Minatare Free Press in its edition of April 2, 1908. "Lovers have outgrown the bashfulness of those of a few generations ago, and now express their sentiments more directly, even if in a less poetic manner."

Evidence of a more direct and less poetic approach to romance appeared in the columns of the same paper (June 25 issue) later that year. Entitled "Woman Wanted," it was a rural bachelor's plea for eligible young women to call:

"I am at home on Hubbel Flats 18 miles north of Minatare, where all young ladies are invited to call upon me. Also young men providing they are accompanied by at least two young ladies, and not more than twelve which is the limit of my special attentions at one time.

"Ladies please bring a lunch unless you should wish a change in diet, in which case we will lunch on my regular fare, sage tea; for toast, wild bird eggs on mushrooms; for soup, dried grasshoppers; for milk, milkweed extract diluted with rain water; for sweetening, bee cider, as I have a wild bee press. I have no lamp but do not be afraid to stay after dark as I have become mooneyed trying to make myself believe that the man in the moon was a woman besides I keep a cage of lightning bugs to light the parlor for company.

"For music I have crickets and koyotes. I also have a cracker box strung with grass blades for [a] banjo, upon which I can play 'I wish that gal was mine' very proficiently. Yours hopefully, O. D. Shirk."

(February 1998)



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