Valentine’s Day Cards from Trinity Lutheran School

Valentine’s Day card from Cheri Huckstep

Preparing for my Presidential Libary

There was a time when I thought I had a career in politics. Because I was positive my Presidential Library would find the trappings of my early life important, I made sure to save everything.

My political aspirations hit an iceberg when I picked Bill Hopkins to pilot my Student Body Presidential campaign. Let’s just say that the 163 folks who voted for me were nowhere near a majority and certainly didn’t warrant calling in lawyers to oversee a recount. Jimmy Feldmeier was the clear winner.

Reading the will of the people very clearly, I abandoned my plan to run for POTUS in 1984, the first year I would be Constitutionally eligible and decided that I was more suited for journalism and sniping from the sidelines.

My Mother’s attic is a time capsule

I may have never made it into a Presidential Library, but I have the next best thing. On my last trip home, I ventured up into the time capsule of my Mother’s attic.

If you dig deep enough, you can probably find every school paper I ever brought home; all of my workbooks going back to kindergarten; hundreds of stickers that say, “Don’t be a sucker, Vote for Kenny (I’d have gotten more votes if Jim Stone hadn’t eaten most of the suckers instead of handing them out to potential voters); report cards; a Bucker-Ragsdale receipt for my Cub Scout uniform and this huge stack of Valentine’s Day cards from Trinity Lutheran School days.

There’s also a box of vintage early 1950s comic books that my destructive younger brothers shredded after I went off to college. I’d be able to afford a better brand of cat food in my retirement years if they were in the same condition as when I left. They saved the fragments just to drive me crazy.

1961 Eighth Grade Class at Trinity Lutheran School

We were together for nine years at Trinity Lutheran School

Most of us were in the same class from kindergarten through the eighth grade. Even though the yearbook didn’t have names with the pictures, I can probably still place names with all but about three or four pictures (they may not be the RIGHT names, but…). No, I’m not going to tell you which one was me.

Valentine’s Day ranked way up there in the Grand Scheme of Holidays. It wasn’t quite Christmas, the Fourth of July or Halloween, but it came pretty close to your Birthday.

The only hassle was having to fill out a card for every member of your class. Then, there was the agony of picking out which card went to which kid. You didn’t want to send one that was too mushy to a girl in the sixth grade.

Now that I look back at these cards from sixth and seventh grade level, I wonder about some of the cards I got from the boys in my class.

Was there a message I missed?

Judy Schrader’s card saying that she wished I’d fall for her line caused my heart to pitter patter. I mean, we actually skated together at the Hanover Skating Rink on Friday nights. That was a big deal. (At least to me, it was.)

Getting that same card from Don Sander seems a little strange these days. I mean, I shared a tent with him on Scout camping trips. I never realized he felt that way.

These were simpler times

The card below didn’t come for Valentine’s Day. My dad built roads all over Southeast Missouri and we lived in a house trailer he’d pull from small town to small town. When I was about three years old, we must have gotten to know a family in Mountain View well enough that I was invited to a birthday party.

Look at how the envelope was addressed:

Kenny Steinhoff


It didn’t have a street address, a city, state or Zip Code. It wasn’t even addressed to my parents. It’s addressed to a three-year-old living in a house trailer. And it cost just a penny to be delivered.

You can’t beat that with a stick.

Gallery of cards

These represent a couple of years, because several classmates appear more than once. I guessed at last names, but I think I’m close to right. Click on any card to make it larger, click on the left or right side to move through the images.

Valentine Season Aside

Forty-five years ago this month, I was lucky enough to meet Lila Perry, who was working as a cashier at the Rialto Theater. We were married in 1969 and she’s tolerated me every since. I wrote up the whole story last year.


30 Replies to “Valentine’s Day Cards from Trinity Lutheran School”

  1. Ken: Your pictures are great; however, your literary prowess is second to none. I enjoy seeing your pictures and reading your prose. Thank you.

  2. A lot of familiar names and faces. One in particular was Ron Dost, who passed away in December 1967.

    Ron and I lived across the street (East Rodney) from each other from 1954 until his death. Many fond memories of sledding down East Rodney, playing ball, and making our own gunpowder (never exploded but great flares).

    Interestingly, the house he grew up in is now owned by his cousin, Gerald Huckstep, CHS ’66. Other across-the-street neighbors were Tom Ward, CHS ’61 or ’62, Bob Ward, ’66, and Alvin Bess, ’65.

  3. Mr. G.P, Sir,

    Thanks for the kind words. This was originally planned to be a photo-only site, but I’ve had so much fun dredging up old memories that it’s changed significantly. I’m tempted to change the WordPress template to one that’s more text-friendly and attractive, but I don’t want to break anything in the process.

    I appreciate the way y’all jump in with comments. It’s nice to know someone appreciates the walk through our childhoods.

  4. Bill,

    I have to admit to feeling a little shiver when I see things from Ronnie Dost and Della Heise, classmates who are no longer with us. In my mind’s eye, they’ll always be frozen at this age.

    Ronnie was the first obituary I wrote of someone who was my age and someone I knew. All of the things you described came flooding in when I was typing a dry, just-the-facts, mam, account of his life.

    When you die right at the end of your teens, it makes for a short obit, but that doesn’t mean that your life didn’t touch a bunch of people.

  5. Ken:

    Bringing back old memories at Trinity (class of ’65) and at CHS (class of ’69) is something I treasure, too. I remember that we were neighbors on Kingsway, that you were a year behind my bother Ken McElreath, and that David was a year behind my other brother Jim. I remember that you were always active in Boy Scouts and that your mother was den mother.

    I lown and live in my parents’ home next to your mother and remember lots of back yard baseball and football with Bob and Gary Garner. The Fiehlers lived up the street on Kurre Lane, and Connie and I were friends.

    Itn our adult years, I’ve come to truly appreciate the way our families were raised with strong Christian values and the wonderful way our faith influenced the choices we made in life. My children, too, spent their elementary years at Trinity.

    Thank you for sharing your information with us…

    Mary McElreath Kistner

    1. Mary,

      Glad to have you in the house on the corner. I remember you family living at the bottom of the hill on the curve east of Kurre when we were growing up.

      That block of Kingsway has been pretty stable over the years. The young family that moved into the Tinker house across the street has really fixed it up. I really appreciate how you and the other neighbors, including the firefighters across the street, have kept on eye on my Mother. Mark is in St. Louis, David is in Tulsa and I’m in West Palm Beach, so it’s nice to know that there’s help nearby if she needs it.

      Trinity was a good school. I felt like I was well prepared for Central when I got there. I think I may have had a little more of the Martin Luther rebel in me than some of my teachers liked, but I managed to make it through the eighth grade.

  6. Yes, those cards brought back sometime painful memories of valentine card distribution at Franklin School. Would I be popular enough to get an adequate number? Wise was the teacher who insisted on equity for all.

    Off the subject, but any mention of the Lutheran School brings back memories of the Lutheran bowling lanes to me. The only other bowling alley in town, until the new one built on Minnesota Ave. (I think it was there) was the old Knights of Columbus facility down by the river. Many was the night I watched my dad bowl in league play at Lutheran in the 50s. I’ve always wondered what those hard working pin boys earned. It was the time of the famous Budweiser team out of St. Louis; Don Carter, Dick Weber, Ray Bluth, et. al. They came to the K.C. lanes and took on a local team in an exhibition match. The Cape men cleaned their clocks.

    1. I can tell you exactly what those “hard-working pin boys earned.” I did it every Saturday morning to “earn extra cash.” I think Steve Folsom also did, as I recall.

      We were paid 7cents (yes, that’s $.07) for each line bowled; that’s per one person-game. I could make $3.00 on a Saturday morning and was happy to do so.

      The pin-setting machines would go down and back up automatically on command, but we had to pick up the pins and load the machines. They were heavy! It was important to first send the ball back before picking up the pins (or the customer would get angry having to wait,) but one had to be really quick to jump down and get the downed pins, pulling his legs up out of the way again before the ball came crashing back again trying to get a spare.

      Ken McElreath

      1. I wonder how long there was a bowling alley there? I heard my Dad tell stories of setting pins there when it was completely manual. Impatient bowlers would send the ball down the lane TRYING to nail the pinboys.

        While you were making $3,00 a morning, I was carrying papers six days a week and collecting for them on Saturday for a whole $2.50 a week.

      2. The Civil Air Patrol meetings were at Central High School where I graduated in ’66. Easily remembered your name and I think I can even picture you. Those were good memories for me. Thanks for being part of them.

  7. What a trip down memory lane…… the old valentines are a treasure. Was amazed at the
    total on the receipt for a scout uniform – the good old days. Your narrative of political aspirations
    and such were quite cute. Perhaps you will not have a presidential library, but you surely
    have created a virtual library that we can all visit without leaving home. THANKS

    1. Thanks, Susan,

      That’s my goal. I’ve seen too many newspaper negative libraries discarded. That’s why I always insisted on keeping my stuff. I thought that I might be the only person in the world who cared about the old pix, but I must have been wrong.

      I’m really happy to see Frony’s work has been preserved.

      If only I had kept better notes about what’s on the film….

  8. Ken, those valentines bring back a flood of memories. You have some great treasures there! I spent second through 6th grade at Franklin, but had the pleasure of first grade at Hanover Lutheran School. The teacher, Miss Viola Wittrock would pick us up on her way out of town to the school. First was Paul Weiss, me, Ervin Marquardt, Albert and Ruth Koerber, Bill Weissinger and the “little kids” had to ride in the car, while the big boys could ride in the rumble seat. A one room school was most interesting!

    I always attended summer Bible School at Trinity and then we transferred our membership there after confirmation in 1960. I knew many of the Trinity kids from early years, but then really got to know them when I was in Walther League there. Did you ever play volleyball on Sundays with that crew? Bob Brinkopf was the cause of me getting new glasses on more than one ocassion!

    My dad helped run the Hanover skating rink, so I was there every Friday night for years and years. I still have my shoe skates (the third pair) complete with pompoms. I keep telling my kids that I think I will take the granddaughter roller skating and wear them. For some reason they don’;t think I still have what it takes to do simple skating, much less the fancy stuff!!

    I really do appreciate the pictures and memories you compile. Thank you for the day brighteners!

    1. Friday night was Hanover skating night. Remember how there would be puddles on the floor whenever it rained?

      You’d enter from the back, rent your skates or put on your own, then jump down off a stage to get to the skate floor. The rental skates were metal ones that attached to your shoes with metal clamps and skate keys. If you wanted to stop, you had to drag the toe of your shoe against the floor, which caused your shoes to wear out.

      The floor was lest than pristine, too. I went to the upscale Maryann Skating rink across from Pfisters once to have a rubber stop replaced on my shoe skates. The guy behind the counter scolded me for skating on the street because the wheels were so dirty.

      When my kids started skating, I was amazed at the difference between their rinks and the rinks of our time. The main difference was that the new rinks were quiet.

      My old skates and skate case are up in the attic in Cape. I guess I’ll have to pop the top on them when I get home the next time.

  9. Hi! I really enjoyed seeing the unique valentine cards that someone created years ago. Sure wish I had saved my Valentine card from grade school. Would also like to have a box we made in school for our classmates to deposit the cards in. It was always difficult to decide what card to give to a classmate especially if you had a crush on that boy. Christmas and Valentine’s day have always been my favorite holidays. Take care.

  10. OMG, I thought I was the only outsider freshman year at Central because I went to St. Vincents, and St. Mary’s. I thought the whole (other world) were the really cool “public” school kids. I didn’t even realize there was a Lutheran School! I remember being totally embarrased 1st semester because I kept forgetting “you don’t have to stand up” each time you answer a question in class in public school. Yeah, I heard you all sniggering behind be every time I stood up. (But I’ve gotten over it). I remeber the Huchstep twins — Totally cool kids!

    1. We Trinity students weren’t disciplined enough to have the stand-up reflex ingrained in us. I guess that’s what happens when your parochial school doesn’t have nuns.

      My Trinity class varied from about 23 to 26 students over the years. That’s hardly enough to make a ripple when you drop it into a freshman class of 300 or so.

      I’m glad we were the first class not to have to undergo freshman hazing. Going from a tiny class of two dozen to a 1,200-student high school was traumatizing enough.

  11. response to Anola – how funny as to your comments about standing when adults entered the room
    in Catholic school. I went to St. Vincent’s K-8 grades. Yes, when a priest or nun entered the room,
    the class stood to show respect. We stood to recite lessons, etc.. It actually seems quite nice
    to recollect those kinds of manners being instilled. I switched to Central at 9th grade and it
    was quite different. I graduated from St. Vincents in 1958. I don’t think you and I know each
    other. You are likely younger. Anyway, I enjoyed your recollections………
    Ken, thanks again for all your work in bringing us wonderful mementos of years gone by.

  12. Hey Ken,
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane with the Valentines. And I thought MY Mom was the ultimate packrat! The only thing that scares me is how “antique” the Valentines look. Since I was a year behind you in Trinity, they just remind me of how ancient we are all getting. I also remember trying to decide who to send which Valentine to. My biggest and best was always reserved for my best friend in Trinity, Diane Meystedt. Some of the boys got some pretty nice ones, too! I probably never sent you one, because you were that whole year ahead of me. However, I absolutely know which picture is you – nice Scout uniform!

  13. Hi Kenny Steinhoff! Love that your mother saved everything and thanks for sharing. Several people told me about the valentines you posted and that I had to see them. I don’t actually remember that valentine that I sent you but it is very clear that I apparently thought highly of you! Love reminiscing about the good old days and your recollections are right on. Friday nite skating at Hanover was big and so far out of town too. Heard you were in town and sorry I missed you. Maybe next time. My family moved back to Cape in ’90. Small world and speak-of-the-devil story I ran into Bonnie Strom and Esther Tripp at Schnucks today–frozen food aisle. I see a reunion a-brewing. 2011 will be 50 yrs since 8th grade graduation, I think. Though I moved to St. Louis after 7th grade I still consider myself part of the class having gone to Trinity from K-7. Thanks for the memories!

    1. Miz Patti, Mam,

      I took a look at the Valentine card you sent me with us going through the tunnel of love. It’s probably a good thing we never actually did that. At that age, I’d probably have carried along a fishing pole so the time wouldn’t have been completely wasted.

      I was a little slow in picking up on things.

      I’m in town a few more days. It seems like I keep finding more and more stuff to shoot.

      I wouldn’t recognize anybody if I ran into them. I barely recognize the old geezer who stares back from the mirror in the morning.

      I was wondering why you didn’t show up in the 8th Grade photo. That explains it.

  14. Hi, Ken! Nice uniform in your Trinity School pic! Did you get a free Tuf-Nut pocket knife for your uniform purchases? I have a whole cigar box full of them.

    Ron Dost and I were in the same Eagle Scout class (1965) and look at our group photo occasionally. Nice memories!

  15. Ken, looking at my 1966 program, also listed were Roger Schlimme, Don Rice, Qilliam Vickery, Steve Trickey, Dean Wright, David Trantham, Rob McLary, and Richard Kies, showers all from Shawnee District. These scouts all achieved the rank of Eagle in 1965, and formally received it during the annual ceremony at SEMO in 1966.

  16. Just wonderful! Couldn’t help but notice that some of the cards were addressed/signed by those saintly adults(probably mothers)who wanted to make sure their kids were included in the exchange. Other mothers no doubt stood over their kids supervising, making sure there was a card for each student in the class. Now the same aged kids are texting each other nonstop!

  17. Ken,

    Would you mind telling me what plugin you’re using for your photo galleries (if it is indeed a WordPress plugin)? I figure this post is a good place to ask you about it, because it would be for use on a Lutheran church web site.


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