Blast from the Past: Valentine’s Day in the 1920s


Dania Rustom

In times past, the Register Forum was a hotspot of teasing gimmicks.

Dania Rustom, Opinion Editor

For many CRLS students, February is filled with the exciting prospect of humiliating friends with a cappella Singing Valentines or bombarding them with Valentine’s Day carnations. In the 1920s, Rindge students demonstrated equal excitement, though they embarrassed their friends through different methods. At the Rindge Technical School (CRLS’s previous name before merging with the Cambridge High and Latin School), students greeted February as a month to embarrass friends through The Rindge Register. The newspaper dedicated space to sophomores, juniors, and seniors to offer advice and updates to the student body. Inspired by this, in 1920, for the first time, The Rindge Register dedicated space for students to send anonymous Valentine’s Day poems and messages to their friends or loved ones. Unlike the class messages, however, the short “heartfelt” Valentine’s Day messages were paired with students’ drawings. In reality, these messages are anything but heartfelt, and the students used the Valentine’s Day opportunity to tease their friends, a trend still present at CRLS.

Rindge students demonstrated equal excitement, though they embarassed their friends through different methods.

In the 1921 edition of The Rindge Register, the center message is certainly well-intentioned—“From Anderson to Mildred / With love from the “Register” too. / But don’t mind what we say Anderson / ‘Cause we all wish that we were you”—yet others took a different route to humiliate their friends in the messages surrounding it. For the next few years, students at the Rindge Technical School would look forward to the month of February to find a different way to put their friends in the spotlight, and maybe send a hint: “Here’s to our friend Willard / Who’s such an expert on the horn, / That after the first time you hear him / You wish that he was never born.”

In the following year, some students at the all-boys Rindge Technical School used this space to send messages to the students at their sister school, the Cambridge High and Latin School. In the 1923 edition, which consisted of more intricate designs, one student wrote, “Here’s to the bobbed-haired maidens, / Who go to CHLS, / It is because of them our school is empty, / Every day at recess.” 

Although The Rindge Register briefly revisited this idea in 1981 with their “More Personal” column consisting of short messages to friends, loved ones, and even teachers, the newspaper has not dedicated space for any themed or class messages since. The anonymous Valentine’s Day messages also haven’t made a reappearance, and while some may appreciate it in the same sense that Singing Valentines and carnations are today, it would be difficult to tread lightly, especially when looking at the brutal messages of the past. Although much has changed for CRLS’ celebrations and Valentine’s Day culture, the desire to humiliate your friends has proven timeless.

This article also appears in our February 2023 print edition.