Tags Posts tagged with "Love"


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I may be conflating two holidays, but this year, I’m thankful for love. Yes, I recognize that Valentine’s Day is a few months away.

I’m not just talking about romantic love between two people who laugh, plan and enjoy building a life together while dealing with the inevitable chaos and curveballs.

No, I’m talking about the kind of love that makes a cold, wet day manageable. We recently added a puppy to our home. We brought this new furry creature into our lives because we were moving and it seemed liked a way to add something to our house that would be ours in a new setting.

It also seemed to be a way to enhance our ability to socialize with our neighbors. Who, after all, can resist a cute puppy bounding down the street? Well, as it turns out, almost everyone, particularly on unexpectedly cooler days in a city that was supposed to be much warmer. Sure, people wave through their gloves and smile behind the wheel, but no one has stopped to ask if he or she can pet the little fella. No one has asked his age, his name or where we got him.

But, hey, this isn’t about love for our neighbors, although I suspect over time we may come to love the distance we have from everyone or, on the bright side, a friendship that may seem inevitable after we meet other people eager to connect with those living nearby.

No, this is about that moment when I open the door to the puppy’s room and he greets me with a tail moving so quickly that it could generate enough electricity to power the house for the day.

As we and our kids get older, the excitement at greeting each other after absences, even for a few hours or a day, left the arena of unbridled joy. Sure, we’re delighted to see each other, but the squeal with delight moments have morphed into understated greetings and subtle head nods that don’t displace carefully coiffed hair.

We can also love the moments our senses pick up a familiar signal. That could be the scent of a pumpkin pie wafting across the living room, sending us back to our childhood when we visited with extended family that has long ago moved away. It could be the sound of our children practicing an instrument with such dexterity that the end of the composition brings both pride and sadness as the intricate sound has given way to silence.

It could also be an appreciation for a warm, crackling fire late on a cold day as the winter sunset turns the light outside a deep orange, contrasting with the yellow hue near the sizzling logs.

This is also the incredible season of anticipation, as we love the prospect of seeing people we haven’t seen in person in weeks, months or years. We can love the expectation of seeing their faces, sharing stories, taking long walks on quiet roads or windy beaches, as we tell tales about everything from the miraculous to the mundane in intersecting lives interrupted by time and distance.

As well, we can love the gift of time with each other, on our own or without particular commitment.

Then again, we can love a positive result at work, if we’ve sold the unsellable property, finally checked something off a to-do list that seemed to be festering forever, or found some unexpected result in a lab that may one day lead to a treatment for an insidious or life-depriving disease.

We are a thinking species, which ruminates over the past, contemplates the present and ponders the future. We are also blessed with the power of love, as Huey Lewis and the News sang in 1985. It’s still a powerful thing, even 33 years later.

Want to know why biscuits in North Carolina are so much better than they are in the rest of the world?

I did, which was why I interrupted a woman who was loading her groceries at a Harris Teeter supermarket and chatting with the cashier.

One word: love.

“Well, it’s love and a lot of butter,” she said. “You can’t be afraid of the butter.”

She suggested that biscuits were invented in North Carolina and that everyone’s grandmother has a recipe for them. They all taste somewhat different, but they’re all so much better than everywhere else.

That was just one of the many stories we’ve overheard ever since we picked up our two high-school-aged kids, threw our unwitting and desperately frustrated cats into their carriers, and relocated to the Tar Heel State.

Putting the cats in the carriers is always challenging, but it was as if they recognized that the trip would
be especially difficult for them. The older one, who is cautious and only likes members of our family, stuck his paws out as we tried to lower him into the case.

It reminded me of all the times our children used to arch their backs as we tried to put them in the car seat. Reasoning with the cats didn’t work, but eventually we won the battle.

We arrived here during a heat wave in the Northeast. As it turns out, our first few days have been a few degrees cooler than what we left behind. Our son observed on the way to the airport that we used to make this drive when we were leaving home, but we were now taking the drive toward a plane that would take us to our new home.

Our interactions with people here have been remarkable. For starters, it really is challenging to find someone who is originally from Charlotte. We have met people from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

The Northeasterners have universally described how much they enjoy living here. Some of their own complaints are the lack of bagels and authentic Chinese food.

People, wherever they are from when they’re here, have been noticeably courteous, even before they read our Yankees shirts, our Brooklyn Cyclones hats and the names of Northeastern schools on our attire. I was pulling out of a store with an enormous rental car. The drivers from two lanes in front of me stopped to let me go.

The North Carolinians are also more than ready to share their stories. Randal, the driver who delivered our cars, gave us advice about where to go for mechanical and auto-body needs. He also shared a few harrowing
anecdotes from his days driving a truck and responding to various emergency calls.

On my trip to the grocery store, where I met the woman who was so proud of her biscuits, I also noticed how people violate the typical New York peripheral vision rule. You know how when you’re in the city and you’re walking down the street, you’re supposed to notice people without staring at them or looking them directly in the eye? The opposite was true among the people I saw in the supermarket. They not only look you in the eye, but they greet you with a “hello” and “how are you doing?”

While I will never be able to test the North Carolina biscuit theory because of my lactose intolerance, I would have to say that, so far, our first impressions of our new state have been remarkably positive.

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Here are some sentiments about that undefinable emotion: Love.

Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colors seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there is no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.

            — Bob Marley

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

            Lao Tzu

There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our full potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.

         — John Lennon                                         

I heard what you said. I’m not the silly romantic that you think. I don’t want the heavens or the shooting stars. I don’t want gemstones or gold. I have those things already. I want … a steady hand. A kind soul. I want to fall asleep, and wake, knowing my heart is safe. I want to love and be loved.

              — Shana Abé

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On the eve of this year’s Mother’s Day, I have a question to ask you. Do you ever think of your parents as people? Sounds like an odd question, but I mean thinking about them in terms of the times they live through, their private satisfactions, their fears and phobias, the experiences that mold them and so forth. We know the facts they choose to tell us about their lives but not their deepest thoughts and feelings.

We can’t ever really know them, even though we grow up in their home. Most of us consider them as loving to us, making our lives comfortable, caring for us when we are sick, instructing us how to behave, making our favorite birthday dinners. But there is more to their existence than their interactions with us.

I sat down to try and picture myself in their shoes.

I know that my father met my mother when he accompanied his older brother to the home of his brother’s fiancée for the first time. There, coming down the stairs in a red dress, was the sister of the fiancée, my mother. To hear my father tell it, he was struck instantly and forever by Cupid’s arrow. Although he was only 15, the sight of her took his breath away. So we know what my father was feeling, but how about her? Did she catch sight of him and feel the same overpowering love at first sight? Was she coming downstairs merely out of curiosity to meet her older sister’s intended, then to slip away for the afternoon with her friends? Did she have nervous or polite conversation with my father? What did they talk about? By the time she was 15 and he was 17, he had persuaded her to get married during her lunch hour in Manhattan’s City Hall. They prevailed upon two men in a nearby barbershop to be their witnesses and to swear that they were both of age. They then returned to work and to their separate homes that night.

My father was triumphant, I know, because he told us so, for now he had the love of his life as his own. Did he have any idea what that meant? You know, the stuff about making a home, supporting and caring for a wife? And my mother, my always and eminently practical mother? How had he convinced her to do this without telling her parents, her brothers and sisters, especially her older sister with whom she was dearly close? Hard as it is for me to picture, she must have been wildly in love.

Theirs was a youthful marriage that worked. They were seldom apart, only during the workday, and they eagerly reunited in the evenings. I could sense the quickening of her breath as we heard his key in the front door. And they began their nightly nonstop conversations as he entered the apartment. My sister and I fell asleep each night to the hum of their voices coming from the kitchen.

My dad was born in 1904, my mother in 1906, so they had both lived through World War I. My dad was lucky to be too young for the draft, but how did he feel seeing his older brothers marching off to war? And my mother? Was she worried about the fate of her older brother? I never asked them.

My parents decided everything together. My mother was more assertive about her opinions, but if my father didn’t agree she would back off. And while he seldom disagreed with her, when he did he was not reticent to let her know. They lived through the Great Depression, but I don’t know if they worried about money or job security. Were they afraid? There was no unemployment or health insurance then. Did they have nightmares about standing on breadlines? I never asked.

I do know that by 1939 they started their first business with all the life savings they had managed to scrape together. Then came Pearl Harbor and World War II. Once again my father was saved, being just beyond draft age. Did they feel threatened by the attack and the war? What were their thoughts and feelings? How did they cope with the stress? I came along then, but at no time in their lives did I think to ask.

Now, of course, it is too late.

Brian Walling and Cari Endres enjoy their wedding ceremony. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.

For 22 years Cupid has visited Huntington Town Hall for Valentine’s Day and spread his love throughout the building — with the help of Town Clerk and Marriage Officer Jo-Ann Raia.

Raia has been serving as marriage officer for the town since 1989, and in 1995 she started a tradition of a “marriage marathon.”

Alexander Acosta Herrera and Esmeria Martinson tie the knot. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.

“I normally perform marriage ceremonies year round,” she said. “However in 1995 I thought it would be romantic to begin a Valentine’s Day marriage ceremony marathon. The couples I united over these past years received this idea enthusiastically. It is a privilege and a pleasure for me to unite these couples and to share in their happiness as they embark on their new lives together.”

The free event consists of couples partaking in a small marriage ceremony with Raia presiding, and then the new bride and groom cut a cake and enjoy drinks and snacks with their guests, donated by local vendors, as well as gifts for the couple and the maid of honor and best man. This year 11 couples were wed in town hall.

Local merchants have donated flowers, baked goods, decorations and other gifts throughout the years, and this year Raia said 34 businesses have donated to the event, including Copenhagen Bakery, The Flower Petaler, Rise Above Bakery, Fashion in Flowers and more.

Huntington residents Brian Walling, 42, and Cari Endres, 40, took advantage of this romantic event after finding out about it while paying off a parking ticket.

“It was the last day before I got another $100 charge and I saw the flyers when I was at town hall,” the bride said. “I asked him if he was working Valentine’s Day, and he said no, so I told him ‘we’re getting married on Valentine’s Day.’”

The couple met at a bar while skiing in Vermont two years ago.

“We were basically both watching TV rooting against the Patriots, because we’re both Giants fans and then I don’t think we’ve ever been apart since that night,” Endres said.

Brian Walling and Cari Endres enjoy their wedding ceremony. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.

Walling said the hug the first night ensured him that Endres was the one for him.

“The conversation was fun and we definitely had a lot in common and we were just having a good time, but what sealed the deal was the hug,” he said. “It was the best hug ever.”

Walling proposed last July while the pair were spending July 4th weekend with family at Endres’ family lake house.

“My father passed away three years ago and he knew how special the lake house was to me,” Endres said. “We were up there with family after a lobster dinner sitting under tiki torches in bathing suits still and that was it.”

The Dalys smile looking back on 60 years of marriage

Bill and Angie Daly with their wedding photo. Photo by Donna Newman

Angie and Bill Daly are months away from celebrating 60 years of married bliss. Well, maybe it wasn’t all bliss, Angie said, but they must know how marriage survives, because they are still happily together.

The two met at a church dance in Brooklyn in 1956. Angie’s brother Vin knew Bill from their days together at the Vincentian seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. So when they encountered each other at the coat check, Bill noticed Vin’s armful of coats.

“Where’re you going with all those coats?” Bill asked. To which Vin explained he brought seven girls to the dance. “I said, you’re just the guy I want to talk to.”

Angie was the first girl he asked to dance.

“I was attracted to guys who were fair with blue eyes,” Angie said. “It was those blue eyes. And I thought he was suave.”

At the end of the evening, Bill asked Angie if he could drive her home.

“I thought everything about her was terrific,” Bill said. “She was so bright and cheerful and outgoing — and cute.”

She said yes, but only if some of the other girls could come along. So they piled into his yellow Olds 98 convertible and on the way home, the car broke down.

“It just died,” Angie said. They were alongside a big cemetery. It was around midnight; no houses or stores were nearby. It started to snow. Angie and Bill left the others in the car and went to find help.

They finally reached some stores, but only the bar and grill was open. They went in and called Vin, who had been home for some time, got dressed, picked them up, drove all the girls home and dropped Bill off at the train station.

“So the first night we met, we had problems,” Angie said.

They got engaged in 1957, married in 1958, and the babies started coming in 1959. By 1969, the couple had four sons and two daughters. Bill taught algebra and business at John Adams High School in Queens. The family lived in Brentwood. He moved into sales with State Farm insurance company and operated his own agency for 28 years. The pair moved to Smithtown, where they resided for 25 years before moving to Jefferson’s Ferry in South Setauket a little more than four years ago.

They still enjoy spending time together.

“We have a lot in common: walking, dancing, visiting friends. We’re on the same page,” Angie said, as she turned to Bill to says “Is that a good answer?”

“Yes,” he replied, adding, “listening to a little music … we try to outdo each other in kindness.”

Asked what she thought were the main factors in a good marriage, Angie said she thought that having animals helped a lot.

“Our loving, therapeutic animals kept us together,” she said, adding that she believes they had a calming influence and can reset your feelings when emotions occasionally get out of hand.

And, of course, there is their faith.

“I remember in elementary school the nuns saying ‘marriage is not just a man and a woman. It’s God, man and woman,’” she said. “And I think we both felt that. We always forgave.”

On Valentine’s Day, as Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia officiated the annual Marriage Marathon, Shantell Bennett Williams and Andre Shakeem Williams have their first kiss as man and wife. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Love was in the air at Huntington Town Hall this past weekend as couples filed in all day for a marriage marathon.

For the past 21 years, Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia has been hosting this event on Valentine’s Day, where she performs marriage ceremonies and vow renewals for couples who are also treated to a small celebration with gifts, desserts and flowers donated from local vendors.

“In 1995, I thought it would be romantic to begin a Valentine’s Day marriage ceremony marathon,” Raia said in a statement. “It is a privilege and a pleasure for me to unite these couples and to share in their happiness as they embark on their new lives together.”

The ceremony has gained popularity over the years, and this year one couple came all the way from Brooklyn and Westbury to say, “I do.”

Andre Shakeem Williams, from Westbury, said he came to Town Hall to do some paperwork when he saw the flyer for this event.

“He came home with the flyer and said, ‘Would you be interested in this?’ and I said ‘Sure, let’s do it,’ and here we are,” Shantell Bennett Williams, of Brooklyn, said after the ceremony. “We said ‘We’ll do something small now, and then something big later.’”

Local couple Lisa Locker Marshall and John Paul Marshall came from East Northport, where they met more than 20 years ago in junior high.

“We didn’t want to wait,” Marshall said. “We’re not big flashy kind of people, so this was right up our alley.”

Thirty-one vendors from throughout the Huntington area contributed to the event.

Abraham Van Wycke’s letter spoke of the love he and Mary shared, contrary to what she said. Photo from The Huntington Town Clerk’s Archives

Huntington was once the setting of a stone-cold rejection.

Abraham Van Wycke, now long buried in his family plot in the cemetery behind the Huntington Town historian’s office, once had his then-beating heart broken when he received a brutal note reminiscent of a Dear John letter in 1819 from a woman named Mary.

Van Wycke, age 21 at the time, was taken with Mary, last name unknown, describing her “electric kisses” and “nectarious lips.” But she wrote him out of her future in one short, blunt letter and he, in response, drafted a letter he never sent back.

Huntington Town Archivist Antonia S. Mattheou discovered the letters — which are now in Huntington Town Hall’s historical archives — years ago, but she was unable to discover any more information about the elusive Mary or her relatives who disapproved of Van Wycke.

“I have for a long time suspected that my mother, from the coldness of her manner toward you, would not be pleased with you as her son-in-law,” Mary wrote. “This suspicion is now confirmed. Your visits at our house have been frequent this winter; they have been remarked by mother and uncle … that they would not sanction any such attachment. This is a good reason and the best I have to offer to justify the resolution which I have seriously and solemnly taken never to look upon you as my future husband.”

Van Wycke found this hard to believe, and said she once told him she would no longer care about what her mother and friends thought, that she would let them “think what they pleased of it.” He used her own words against her, after she described her previous declaration of love for him as an “unthinking confession.”

“Did you not immediately, after your unthinking confession, present me with your hand and an electric kiss from your nectarious lips, as a pledge of your engagement and constancy? Yes, and what did you say? That you [were] satisfied and happy and would have made the confession before, but fearing the displeasure of your mother had acted the reverse of your inclinations, but had decidedly come to the conclusion to make the confession? … Does this prove that the confession was unthinking or inconsiderate?”

Mary listed other reasons she thought Van Wycke was not suitable for marriage, including his health and financial stature.

The tombstone in Huntington where Abraham Van Wycke is buried. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
The tombstone in Huntington where Abraham Van Wycke is buried. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

“You are not in a situation to marry and support me in the style of ease and comfort in which I am at present living under the roof,” she said. “You are not in good health, your constitution has been impaired by that most dreadful of all maladies, the consumption, from which I fear you are not entirely recovered.”

Mary pleaded to “be forgotten” or only seen as a friend and accused him of assuming too much of their relationship. She said her utterances of attachment did not equal “a promise to be your wife.”

Van Wycke found flaws in that reasoning, asking when he would have reasonably inferred that she was not interested.

“Sure it was not when you were caressing me with repeated anticipations of future felicity! Which inspired me with enthusiasm,” he said. “Nor was it at those times when you were placing electric kisses on my lips and face which are … never to be wiped away by a female! Was this unthinking? Was it not voluntarily granted? The unthinking confession, how was it?”

Van Wycke talked of conversations in which Mary had supposedly given full acknowledgement of desiring a life with him.

“We were talking of domestic happiness, to which I remarked that I never expected to know domestic happiness, to which you readily replied that it was and had been your wish to make me happy. Was this unthinking or involuntary on your part? Ask your conscience!”

Mary begged Van Wycke not to respond to her letter, as she felt there was no point: “Let me desire you also never to renew the subject of this letter you have before you now, the candid and full expression of my sentiments and feelings which makes it wholly unnecessary to discuss in private conversation,” she said.

Mary signed the letter “With due respect, your well-wisher,” and thus ended the last contact she ever had with Van Wycke.

Although Van Wycke ultimately did not send his response, he had originally intended to ignore her request for silence.

“Willingly would I comply with your requests in not answering your epistle, but my feelings prompt me to this act, and moreover … to present (together with your conscience) a memorial of your conduct to me,” he wrote.

Van Wycke died an unmarried man at age 51, on June 24, 1849. He foreshadowed his fate in his letter when he said, “This disappointment leads me to form a new system for my future life.”

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Valentine postcard sent in 1909 from Canada to East Setauket and rerouted to Brooklyn. Photo from Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

The tradition of sending messages, gifts and expressions of love on Valentine’s Day goes back to at least the 15th century.

In 1477, in Britain, John Paston wrote to his future wife, “Unto my ryght wele belovyd Voluntyn – John Paston Squyer.”

The celebration of Feb. 14 began as an ancient Roman ceremony called the Feast of the Lupercalia, held each year on the eve of Feb. 15. It was on the eve of the Feast of the Lupercalia in the year 270 that Valentinus, a Roman priest, was executed.

According to a 1493 article in the Nuremberg Chronicle, “Valentinus was said to have performed valiant service in assisting Christian Martyrs during their persecution under Emperor Claudius II.”

Giving aid and comfort to Christians at that time was considered a crime, and for his actions, Valentinus was clubbed, stoned and beheaded. The Roman pagan festivals were spread all over the world as the Romans conquered various lands.

It is thought that when the early Christian church reorganized the calendar of festival, they substituted the names of Christian Saints for the pagan names and allocated Feb. 14 to St. Valentine. By the 17th century, Valentine’s Day was well established as an occasion for sending cards, notes or drawings to loved ones.

An early British Valentine dated 1684 was signed by Edward Sangon, Tower Hill, London.

“Good morrow Vallentine, God send you ever to keep your promise and bee constant ever.”

In America, the earliest known valentines date to the middle of the 18th century. These handmade greetings were often very artistically done and included a heart or a lover’s knot. Like letters of the period they were folded, sealed and addressed without the use of an envelope. Until the 1840s, the postal rate was determined by the distance to be traveled and the number of sheets included, so an envelope would have doubled the cost.

In 1840, Nichols Smith Hawkins of Stony Brook sent a valentine to his cousin Mary Cordelia Bayles. The original does not exist, but her reply, written two days after Valentine’s Day, says a great deal.

“I now take this opportunity to write a few lines to you to let you know that I received your letter last evening. I was very happy to hear from you and to hear that you hadent forgot me and thought enough of me to send me a Valentine. I havent got anything now to present to you but I will not forget you as quick as I can make it conveinant I will get something for you to remember me by. You wrote that you wanted me to make you happy by becoming yourn. I should like to comfort you but I must say that I cannot for particular reasons. It isn’t because I don’t respect you nor do I think that I ever shall find anyone that will do any better by me. I sincerely think that you will do as well by me as anyone. I am very sorry to hear that it would make you the most miserable wretch on earth if I refused you for I cannot give you any encouragement. I beg to be excused for keeping you in suspense so long and then deny you. Believe me my friend I wouldn’t if I thought of denying you of my heart and hand. I think just as much of you now as ever I did. I cannot forget a one that I do so highly respect. You will think it very strange then why I do refuse you. I will tell you although I am very sorry to say so it is on the account of the family. They do oppose me very much. They say so much that I half to refuse you. It is all on their account that I do refuse so good an offer.”

Four days later, Mary again replied to a letter from Nichols.

“Dear Cousin – I received your letter yesterday morning. I was very sorry to hear that you was so troubled in mind. I don’t doubt but what you do feel very bad for I think that I can judge you by my own feelings but we must get reconciled to our fate … Keep your mind from it as much as you can and be cheerful for I must tell you as I have told you before that I cannot relieve you by becoming your bride, therefore I beg and entreat on you not to think of me anymore as a companion through life for if you make yourself unhappy by it, you will make me the most miserable creature in the world to think that I made you so unhappy.“

At least two other letters, written the following year, were sent to Nichols from Mary. The letters continued to express the friendship that existed between them. The story does not end at this point. Mary’s father died in 1836 and her mother in 1838, and it is possible that she lived for a time with her aunt Elizabeth and uncle William Hawkins — Nichols’ parents.

Whatever the circumstances that brought them together, their love for each other continued to bloom.

On Feb. 11, 1849, Nichols Smith Hawkins, age 34 married Mary Cordelia Bayles, age 27. Nichols and Mary raised three children who lived beyond childhood — two others died in 1865 within a month.

Nichols was a farmer and the family lived in Stony Brook. Mary died in 1888 at the age of 66 and Nichols died in 1903, at the age of 88. They are buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Stony Brook.

Valentines became fancier and more elaborate through the second half of the 19th century. After 1850 the valentine slowly became a more general greeting rather than a message sent to just one special person.

The advent of the picture postal card in 1907, which allowed messages to be written on one half of the side reserved for the address, started a national craze that saw every holiday become a reason for sending a postcard and Valentine’s Day the occasion for a flood of one cent expressions of love.

Beverly Tyler is Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the Three Village Historical Society.

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A more recent photo of the footbridge at Sunken Meadow State Park shows the love locks have been stripped. Photo by Susan Risoli

By Susan Risoli

To all the couples who attached padlocks to a footbridge in Sunken Meadow State Park: sorry, sweethearts. Your public declarations of love were removed recently by the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Views of the footbridge at Sunken Meadow State Park, where lovebirds once saw locks representing their permanent affection. Photo by Susan Risoli
Views of the footbridge at Sunken Meadow State Park, where lovebirds once saw locks representing their permanent affection. Photo by Susan Risoli

Lovers worldwide have embraced the tradition of decorating locks with initials and other symbols of partnership, and ceremoniously attaching them to bridges. Fearing that locks would weaken structures and make them unsafe, municipalities have been removing the tokens of love. Twenty-two love locks were recently taken off the footbridge at the end of Sunken Meadow’s parking field 3. The New York City Department of Transportation removed 450 locks from the Brooklyn Bridge in April. And officials in Paris have been prying locks off bridges that span the River Seine.

A recent visit to Sunken Meadow revealed a barren bridge stripped of the locks that adorned it earlier this year. Only one lonely testament to love remained – a heart scratched into the metal railing, bearing the message “LW + GE.”

State Parks spokesman Randy Simons said in an email Tuesday that the Parks Department was concerned that, over time, an increasing number of locks could add unsafe weight to the bridge. Locks can get rusted, and that could also affect the bridge, Simons said.

Those who put a love lock on the bridge and want their memento back, he said, can pick it up at the Sunken Meadow park office.

“We encourage our visitors to express their friendship and love in other ways that do not interfere with others’ enjoyment of the natural setting and park property,” Simons said. Going forward, if park officials see anyone attaching a lock to the bridge, “We would explain to the individual or individuals that this is not permitted and have them remove the locks,” he said. “We do not see locks being placed on any of our bridges in the future.”

Views of the footbridge at Sunken Meadow State Park, where lovebirds once saw locks representing their permanent affection. Photo by Susan Risoli
Views of the footbridge at Sunken Meadow State Park, where lovebirds once saw locks representing their permanent affection. Photo by Susan Risoli

The Parks Department hasn’t seen love locks at any other state parks, Simons said.

The New York City Department of Transportation has been taking love locks off the city’s bridges since 2013, said a DOT spokesperson in an email Tuesday. She said the department removed 9,363 locks this year, from January through the end of September.

“Locks pose a safety risk for those using the Brooklyn Bridge and are not allowed,” she said. “We strongly discourage visitors from leaving locks on our bridges as it poses a danger to the infrastructure and the cars traveling below.”

“We ask that all visitors to the Brooklyn Bridge and other bridges across the city help keep our landmarks clean and in a state of good repair.”